The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the best teams in the NBA, but they’re one of the worst at beating the NBA odds. Can the Utah Jazz take advantage when they meet Wednesday night in Salt Lake City?
Jason’s record as of Jan. 27: 25-25-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals
Welcome to the big time, Los Angeles Clippers. You’ve become the best team in town, not to mention one of the best teams in the NBA at 31-14. But uneasy lies the head that wears a crown; burdened by high expectations and a dash of palace intrigue, the Clippers are only 19-26 ATS, making them one of the worst basketball picks around. That’s Hollywood for you.
Meanwhile, in the parallel universe known as Salt Lake City, the Utah Jazz (16-29 SU, 23-22 ATS) are still working on that rebuilding project. This is Year Two since the Jazz let both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap take a walk. It’s also their first year under “rookie” head coach Quin Snyder, who rose to prominence at the helm of the Missouri Tigers before leaving in 2006. The Jazz host Los Angeles Wednesday night (9:00 p.m. ET) with the NBA odds at press time favoring the Clippers at –6.5 at BetOnline.
B-Team No Longer
If you’re a fan of a certain age, you’ll remember how bad the Clippers used to be. It’s something of a miracle that Chris Paul (7.66 WAR), Blake Griffin (5.62 WAR) and DeAndre Jordan (5.40 WAR) all landed in L.A. while Donald Sterling was still the owner, not to mention head coach Doc Rivers. Let’s take a quick glimpse back at how things have changed in recent years.
2008-09: 19-63 SU, 32-50 ATS
2009-10: 29-53 SU, 35-46-1 ATS
2010-11: 32-50 SU, 37-44-1 ATS
2011-12: 40-26 SU, 33-33 ATS
2012-13: 56-26 SU, 45-37 ATS
2013-14: 57-25 SU, 46-35-1 ATS
2014-15: 31-14 SU, 19-26 ATS
Not coincidentally, 2011 was the year that the NBA stepped in and prevented the Los Angeles Lakers from trading for Paul, who went to the Clippers instead. It was also Griffin’s third year with the team – he sat out his rookie campaign with a broken kneecap – and Jordan’s fourth season as a pro. The timing was right for the Clippers to take over L.A., especially with the Lakers in decline.
Blake Griffin Enterprises
Now things have gone about as far as they can go. There’s plenty of enthusiasm about the Clippers in the wake of Donald Sterling’s departure, but at this pace, they’re once again due to finish with 56 or 57 wins on the season. No growth, no money. L.A. is failing to meet market expectations, and it doesn’t look like things are going to improve anytime soon.
This is partly because of the market itself. Griffin is playing the role of the villain here; he’s very, very good, but he’s not MVP-quality like many people think. His defensive efficiency (plus-0.5 DBPM), rebounding (7.7 per 36 minutes), and shooting percentage (.500) are all at career lows, as Griffin puts more and more mid-range shots into his repertoire.
Under the Confluence
But Coach Rivers needs to take some blame, too. He’s also the team’s PBO, and he’s made some questionable decisions when it comes to his supporting actors – including trading for his own son, Austin Rivers (4.1 PER). The former Dukie has already got the worst Box Plus/Minus on the Clippers at minus-6.6, and he’s getting 16 minutes a game off the bench. Ridonkulous.
No such intrigue in Salt Lake, where Snyder and the Jazz are quietly getting better. Derrick Favors (3.33 WAR) and Rudy Gobert (2.69 WAR) have really developed down low, while Gordon Hayward (4.99 WAR) is showing why Utah was willing to sign him for four years at $63 million. There’s still miles to go before the Jazz are back in the playoff picture, especially with first-rounder Dante Exum (0.38 WAR) playing so poorly. But we’ll gladly add them to our basketball picks this week.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Jazz