LA Clippers: Why FiveThirtyEight’s wild Clips projection could be dead on

Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Take a look at what FiveThirtyEight’s prediction of what playoff seed the LA Clippers will get this season, and you will be disappointed.

Take a deeper look, however, and see how they predict us to finish in the postseason. You will love what you see.

The analytics team over at FiveThirtyEight has the Clippers snagging just the seventh seed to get in the playoffs, but they also have the Clippers as owning the highest percent chance at winning the Western Conference. There is a method to their madness.

FiveThirtyEight has Kawhi Leonard returning on March 1st, and carrying the LA Clippers to a Conference title.

FiveThirtyEight has this to say about the LA Clippers’ chances at having Kawhi Leonard return in time to make a Western Conference run in the postseason:

"“The most notable thing there is the Clippers, who are considered Western Conference favorites and have the league’s second-best shot at a title despite being projected for only the seventh-best regular-season record in the West,” wrote Jared Dubin. “That’s because the current (and official) version of the projections includes Kawhi Leonard returning to the lineup on March 1 after partially tearing his ACL in June and undergoing surgery in July. Four to six months of recovery is a typical timeline for this kind of injury, but Leonard has a history of taking, shall we say, longer than expected to return from injury.”"

A return by March 1 is certainly possible for Leonard right now. It’s even possible for him to return sooner than that. Again, he partially tore his ACL.

And if he does come back by March 1st, he could be up at 100% by playoff time. If that’s the case, why can’t the Clippers win the West?

They almost did last year without him, and now they’d be adding the best player in the entire conference. The team with the next highest percentage to win the West is the Phoenix Suns.

They were the better team than the Clippers last year, but their best player in Chris Paul is getting older. Our best player is in his prime, and is much better than CP3 at this point. There’s a reason Kawhi was a first-team All-NBA selection just last year.

There’s nobody on the Suns who is going to be better than Leonard next year, and no player in the entire conference who is going to be better than Klaw. It’s why I’m not worried about this team as long as Leonard is fully healthy by the time the playoff lights begin to shine.

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People will try to clown this prediction by FiveThirtyEight, but it’s realistic if Kawhi’s recovery goes as planned.