The L.A. Clippers have been the laughing stock of the NBA for quite some time now, and this year has been no different. Sporting one of the worst records in the league (and a below .500 record against the spread[20-25]), the Clippers have shown no signs of turning things around anytime soon. The one valid excuse the Clippers have this year is that they have been one of most injured teams in the leagues. Marcus "Cotton" Camby was injured to start the year and was recently injured again. Then, Chris Kaman was lost for an indefinite period of time in late November, just as the Clippers traded for Zach Randolph. What seemed like fortunate timing turned into yet another disaster, as Randolph has been out since December 28th with a knee injury and the oft-injured Baron Davis joined him on the shelf just a few days later. That left the Clippers without their three best veterans for the past month, and as such they sport a 2-12 January record.
The lone bright spot for the Clippers has been the development of rookie Eric Gordon and sophomore Al Thornton, both blossoming into prolific scorers in the absence of Kaman, Randolph and Davis. With Davis and Camby recently returning to action and Randolph expected back shortly, it is tempting to look at the Clippers as a team that should improve greatly down the stretch. While that may be true, we don't see the Clippers making significant improvements until Chris Kaman returns from injury, and recommend fading the Clippers until then. Our reasoning is that the public will likely start favoring the Clippers upon the return of Davis and Randolph, two "big name" players, while paying little attention to the return of Kaman, a relatively unknown rebounding and shot-blocking machine. In actuality, Kaman is the player most likely to help them win games and cover spreads, not Davis (35% from the field) and Randolph (3.3 turnovers per game). Kaman is expected to return sometime after the all-star break, so keep up with our injury coverage for updates over the next few weeks.
Michael Redd will not play another game for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. Not exactly breaking news anymore, but we wanted to take a moment to look deeper into the Bucks situation as they adjust to the loss of their leading scorer and the face of their franchise. First, there is no denying Redd is a dynamic scorer and a "clutch" shooter, if you believe in such things. Averaging 20 points per game (PPG) to go along with 2 three-pointers per game and 45% shooting is no easy feat. However, Redd is also notorious for being a scorer first, and, well, nothing second. He's not a great defender, not a great rebounder, and not a great passer. It's fair to say that Redd is a somewhat overrated player, and while his presence will be missed, the Bucks have one of the best backup guards in the league in Ramon Sessions.
In November, while Redd was out with a badly sprained ankle, Sessions averaged 15 PPG and 6 assists per game (APG). For the season, Redd was averaging 21 PPG and 3 APG. If we take the liberty of assuming that one assist is roughly equal to two points, then the "net points" generated by each player as a starter is identical: 27. We can use this information to assume that although Sessions will not score like Redd, he will create opportunities for teammates at a roughly equal level, and the Bucks overall play shouldn't suffer. Now, it can be argued that Redd's presence as a three-point threat is not something that Sessions (career 22% from beyond the arc) can hope to replicate. This is absolutely true, and we wouldn't pretend to be able to put into numbers every aspect of what a player brings to the court. However, what we can conceptualize makes it seem rather clear that Redd's absence will have a much smaller impact than the public will think, especially since high-scoring players are habitually overrated by most people, and that presents value in the sports betting marketplace.
Quick Hit: The San Antonio Spurs lead the league by a large margin in games won by three points or less (9-2). Great coaching, or great luck?