What the Clippers’ preseason says about the upcoming season


Well, it’s over.

The Los Angeles Clippers’ promising 2015-16 season is in the dumps. Forget another early-round exit from the playoffs, they obviously won’t make it that far. This team is so deep in the dumps that their ex-coach is taking shots at them.

Even though he was fired two years ago.

After the shellacking at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets, the Clippers are 1-3 in the preseason; most disturbing is the average point difference over those three games of 25 points. They aren’t just losing, they are getting embarrassed.

Yup, it’s over.

In the midst of the fiasco called the Clipper preseason, Vinnie Del Negro decided to proclaim that he clearly wasn’t the problem. At first glance I thought it was odd for the former coach to comment. Why now? Why say anything at all? But then I look back at Del Negro’s reign and well, he’s got a point.

The VDN Clippers broke through the muck that accumulated after decades of poor management and bad luck. He nurtured Blake Griffin to the Rookie of the Year award one season in and successfully integrated Chris Paul into the squad the following season. It might seem trivial, but the Clippers were very much a laughing stock when VDN took over and something as significant as the CP3 deal could have gone either way for this team. Under Del Negro, the team excelled.

Then, they did what was thought to be the unthinkable: they outplayed the Lakers!

Back in 2006 the Clippers were better than the Lakers, but that team felt (and later proved to be) temporary. The VDN team was (and is proving to be) the start of something big. Los Angeles still belongs to the Lakers but true fans of basketball get it — the Clippers are the better team, by far.

Vinnie Del Negro’s Clipper teams posted a better record every year. No, VDN was not the problem. While Doc Rivers hasn’t been able to move the team to the next level yet he has maintained the excellence that started under Del Negro in 2011.

Feb 9, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks with guard Chris Paul (3) and DeAndre Jordan (6) during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Well, until this preseason. That is where it’s obvious their run is over.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’m not a big fan of advanced metrics. Sure, I watched “Moneyball” and was entertained by it. I heard from people I respect that all these numbers actually mean something, but I just don’t see it. APBRmetrics is a term that refers to analysis of basketball statistics. Points, rebounds and assists are old-school, today we need OR/OE, DR/DR, eFG%, TSP, PR and of course, PER.

Despite my own personal feelings against these numbers (ew), I’m willing to move forward and see what they say about the Clippers so far. After all, these are dire times for the team so far. If we can find any answers in science, I’m all for it.

Let’s start with Offensive Rating/Offensive Efficiency. Now, these numbers are calculated as points scored and allowed per 100 possessions. Possessions are estimated using the following formula:

Possessions = .96 * (FGA – ORb + TO + (.44 * FTA))

Duh, right?

First we need to take the Clippers’ field goal attempts and deduct the orb. I can only assume that the orb is the ghostly aberration that held the Clippers down for decades. We then take that number and add Terrell Owens for some reason. I get that this doesn’t make sense, but let’s keep going — this is science!

Now we have to multiply the teams free throw attempts to either .44 or Jerry West, it’s not exactly clear which. Either way, we then take that number and multiply it by .96.

So, it looks like the Clippers’ combined preseason OR/OE is not calculable. See, even advance metrics show the obvious: this team is doomed.

More from Clipperholics

I was so motivated by my foray into advanced metrics that I decided to create my own. This calculation, which I have tentatively coined the “Judicial Outstanding Basketball Season Evaluator”, or jOsE. The B is silent. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the math at the risk of boring you, but the jOsE uses advanced metrics based on the things like the earth’s gravitational pull, current player moods, stress levels and musical tastes. I have left no stone un-turned in developing jOsE.

So, what does jOsE say about the Clippers preseason? I ran it over and over just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. In fact, I dedicated an entire wall to the process not unlike Carrie Mathison in season one of “Homeland” and I came up with this: the Clippers’ preseason means absolutely nothing.

I know, it’s illogical. It makes no sense. I mean, the Clippers have stunk it up worse than a skunk rolling around in a dumpster. How is it possible this preseason means nothing and will have no bearing on the regular 2015-2016 season? I’m not sure to be honest, but jOsE has spoken and it’s very clear.

The Clippers are fine, the preseason means nothing. Be upset if you want, but it’s hard to argue.

It’s science.

Next: NBA Global Games: How the Clippers fared in China