It’s that time of the year when major sports publications start to get their projection models ready to make fans across the universe upset with how their specific team gets profiled. Well, the LA Clippers seem like one of the teams that the models could undersell based on several factors.
On Tuesday, ESPN released their Western Conference projections for the upcoming 2022-23 season, and a bit of a surprise was in store.
The conference was placed into tiers, with the Clippers slotted into “The Contenders” section. While that itself isn’t surprising, what was noticeable was where the Clippers were projected to finish.
The top four teams in the West, according to ESPN, were the Phoenix Suns (56-26), Golden State Warriors (55-27), Denver Nuggets (53-29) and Memphis Grizzlies (51-31). As you can tell, that means the Clippers were not projected to secure homecourt advantage in a potential first-round series.
Instead, the Clippers were projected to finish fifth in the West with a record of 50-32. The Dallas Mavericks (49-33) were sixth.
It does need to be mentioned that the Pacific Division is going to be arguably the NBA’s strongest division this season with three teams — Clippers, Suns and Warriors — firmly entrenched as title favorites, so getting three teams into the top five seems like a pretty healthy thing for the division itself.
Whether or not you agree with ESPN’s projections is up to you. But it does make for an interesting talking point that several of the game’s biggest prognosticators don’t think the Clippers will nab homecourt at all in the first round. We’ll have to see how the season unfolds and if the projections were right.
The “Play-In Group” section featured the Minnesota Timberwolves (49-33), New Orleans Pelicans (43-39), Los Angeles Lakers (42-40) and Portland Trail Blazers (35-47).
The “Bottom Five” group had the Sacramento Kings (34-48), Utah Jazz (26-56), Oklahoma City Thunder (25-57), San Antonio Spurs (24-58) and Houston Rockets (22-60).
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