Prediction season is amongst us. As many outlets have shifted their focus toward grading what teams have–and haven’t–accomplished in the off-season, many have began transferring that information into predictions, the most notable of the bunch being ESPN as they’ve returned to deliver their annual Summer Forecast.
Discussing the West, ESPN has ranked the Los Angeles Clippers third in the conference behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio as we’ll as having predicted LA finishes with 56 wins.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 12, 2014
The standing I agree with. Barring injury, it’s far to place the Clippers behind the Thunder and Spurs–two teams who’ve shown they can knock off 60 wins in a season if health is permitting. There’s an argument to be made about whether the Clippers are better than a Thunder team whose done little in regards of improving their unit going forward (they likely hope for internal improve i.e. growth), but that’s a discussion for another day.
The win-loss prediction, I don’t agree with.
Whether you were impressed with the Clippers off-season haul or not, they’re a better team that they were during the 2013-14 season. They’ve upgraded their frontcourt depth with the addition of Spencer Hawes, a big man who is leagues better than any reserve found on the Clippers bench last season, replaced Jordan Farmar with Darren Collison, and have added more scoring depth with C.J. Wilcox, the teams lone selection from the 2014 NBA Draft.
And somehow, through all of the improvements, the team would lose one less game than they did in the previous season–a season where Chris Paul and J.J. Redick missed a combined 67 games as well as other injuries to the wing unit? Is this group guaranteed to go unscathed throughout the 2014-15 season? Of course not, but in a prediction such as this, injury shouldn’t be a factor unless the health issues occur prior to and will have an impeding effect on the season (See: George, Paul).
I personally think the Clippers, again, barring injury, can win 60 games. They’re an elite offensive team that’s improved on that end as well as a defensive team that could take a step forward due to internal improvement and regression for some. A 60-win season would place the Clippers in an elite pantheon of teams that are expected to contend for a title and would easily be the best output from a Clippers team in the history of the franchise. With Doc Rivers getting a second year with this group, it’s viable and that’s the first step to getting it done–accomplishing minuscule goals.
Let us know if you agree with ESPN’s latest forecast on the Clippers in the poll below.