2017-18 Los Angeles Clippers Predictions and NBA Futures Odds Picks
There are some offseasons that are easy to evaluate - the Celtics and Thunder had really good ones, and the Knicks really didn't. And then there are teams like the Clippers, who did so much that it's hard to really know for sure. Some of what they did was awful - they can spin it all they want, but there is no upside to losing Chris Paul. And some of what they did is brilliant, though it came much later than it should have - stripping Doc Rivers of his front office duties is a move that could only have been exceeded but not being dumb enough to give him the duties in the first place. What's seems fairly certain is that the big three that the team had assembled was just not going to be good enough to get over the top. I'm not convinced that they are better than they were before, but they are certainly different, and you might as well try something new when what you were doing wasn't going to work anyway. But what does it all mean for this team and their chances? Let's dive in:
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2017 Los Angeles Clippers Betting Storylines
Clippers' apologists have tried to tell you that getting rid of Chris Paul was actually a good thing. That the team wasn't working as it was, and that he was the weak link. They are dreaming. You can't spin a way in which getting rid of a guy like Paul is a positive. All we can do is figure out how much of a negative it is. Two guys are going to try to step in and replace the perennial all-star. Patrick Beverley came back from Houston in the Paul deal and will be the starter, and Milos Teodosic, a 30-year-old rookie who has been playing in Moscow and was European player of the year in 2010, has come over to eat some minutes. Beverley is proven and defensively sound, and Teodosic has already shown early in the preseason that his reputation as a passing wizard is well deserved. It's an unconventional combination, and it won't fill the void left by Paul, but the upside is there at least.
Of all the moves the team made, the one I like least - aside from not working harder to keep Paul around - was making Blake Griffin very rich. They extended him for five years at just short of $35 million a year. I don't trust his knees, and I don't have faith in his ability to step and be the leader he'll need to be with a deal like this. They are married to a guy I wouldn't be any in hurry to get married to. This guy has never had scrutiny and pressure on him like he will have this year, and a fist in the face of his friend has shown us in the past that he might not always be the best under pressure.
As I said at the outset, getting rid of Doc Rivers' decision-making powers is unquestionably a positive. So was bringing in Jerry West to oversee things. Lawrence Frank, and ally of Rivers, is installed as the head of basketball operations for now, but that will only last if West decides it is the right thing. The team simply wasn't making good enough decisions, and the efforts of Rivers were too divided between coaching and running the show. There is a risk that the deliberations will be a distraction for the team - we saw in New York what impact front office uncertainty can have on a vulnerable team - but this is a net positive.
2017 Los Angeles Clippers Additions and Departures
We've touched on the point changes, the front office overhaul, and the new contract for Griffin. That's just the tip of the iceberg. J.J. Redick is gone, and Austin Rivers will likely take the lead in filling his minutes. Lou Williams, who came back for Paul, will backup Rivers. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute went to Houston. Paul Pierce retired. Diamond Stone and Jamal Crawford were shipped to Atlanta. And Raymond Felton bolted for Oklahoma City. The biggest addition was arguably Danilo Gallinari, who came in a sign-and-trade with Denver. He will be the starting small forward, ahead of Sam Dekker, who also was part of the Paul trade. Gallinari at his best is a nice player, but he struggles to stay healthy and is too prone to mental holidays for my tastes. Montrezl Harrell, yet another part of the Paul deal, will back up Griffin. And backup center Willie Reed joins from Miami on a cheap deal. It's an overwhelming amount of change - Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Rivers are the only three players from what seems like the marginal two deep at this point that were with the team last year.
2017 Los Angeles Clippers Futures Odds and Trends
Los Angeles Clippers Futures Odds
NBA title odds (from BetOnline ) : +12500
Western Conference title odds : +6600
Blake Griffin MVP Odds (from Bovada ) : +4000
Season win total (from Bovada): 43.5 ("over" is favored at -125)
The Clippers were totally useless for bettors last year - they were 40-41-1 ATS, so there were no long-term profits anywhere. The totals were better, with a 44-37-1 mark, so over bettors showed a long-term profit.
2017 Los Angeles Clippers Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
There are moves I like, but I don't like the net result. I don't hate the new point option, so the issues there won't be as big as they could be with the loss of Paul. I'm not happy with the role they have cast Griffin in, though, and I'm not the biggest fan of Jordan. I don't trust Gallinari to stay healthy enough, and if Austin Rivers is your starting shooting guard that's not really ideal. And the depth isn't as good as it could be. Here's the problem - if everything falls into place, guys reach their full potential, and they stay healthy then this could easily be a top four team in the West. But they aren't any closer to beating Golden State or San Antonio than they were last year - further away, really - and they are behind Paul's new team and probably Oklahoma City, too. And their downside could put them in a dogfight with hungry up-and-comers like Denver and Minnesota in a fight for their playoff lives. In other words, this team's potential range is from not really relevant to really not relevant. It's a depressing place to be for fans of the team, I'm sure. I think the season win total is pretty fair - they won 51 games last year. I don't see any value there or anywhere else, and am generally pessimistic.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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