The Los Angeles Clippers' season just took a turn for the worst with All-Star Chris Paul out for up to 8 weeks due to thumb surgery. Bettors might want to start fading the Clips pronto. Let us tell you why.
The Los Angeles Clippers will be without franchise point guard Chris Paul for perhaps their next 20 games. The 9-time All Star is on the sidelines for a projected two months after having surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb suffered Monday. What does this mean for the Clip in the betting market? Plenty.
Paul has been the central cog for L.A. since coming over from New Orleans six years ago, but his presence is perhaps more valuable this season than in any other. On the surface, his stats look normal for the cornerstone player: 17.5 PPG, 9.7 APG, 5.3 RPG and 2.2 SPG. It's his advanced metrics that stand out and this is where you'll see an effect on the NBA point spread for Clippers games.
Prior to the injury, Paul topped the NBA in Real Plus-Minus and ranked No. 6 in Player Efficiency Rating and No. 7 in Win Shares. He put up similar numbers in 2015-16. His 8.5 Real Plus-Minus (RPM) ranked third highest in the NBA last year and topped all point guards, including Steph Curry (8.51). This metric is important because it measures net point differential per 100 offensive and defensive possessions, best singling out a players' on-court impact.
The NBA betting market tends to underestimate the void left by star players when they sit out, particularly those with high RPMs. It typically takes a while for the number to catch up. LeBron James, for example, has ranked first or second in RPM in each of the last two seasons. The Cavaliers are 1-20-1 ATS in this span when the King fails to suit up, losing to the spread by 8.2 points per game. Curry has watched the Warriors go 4-7 ATS in his absence in his past 11 missed. The Spurs, meanwhile, are 12-17-1 ATS when Kawhi Leonard, the only other player to rank in the top five in RPM over the last two years, is out.
Over the last two years, the Clippers are 5-12 straight up and 6-11 ATS without Paul. They own a -2.9 ATS margin in this stretch. Seven of these games occurred in late December and early January of this season when Paul sat due to a bothered hamstring. One thing to note here is that three of the five covers occurred in the only four contests in which the Clippers were spotted 10 points or more. They're 3-10 ATS otherwise, losing to the number by nearly 5.5 points.
The market will catch up eventually, but otherwise L.A. looks a good fade in the coming weeks. The upcoming schedule isn't kind, either, as the Clippers venture off for two grueling road trips. It could get very ugly.