The season is still two months away, but most of the rosters are set, barring the requisite Michael Jordan comeback rumor (just kidding, but only a little). We have an idea where our team stands, but we can't really know unless we discuss everyone else. In that spirit, I'm going to throw up a "competition discussion" thread for each of the other 29 teams over the next month or so. We'll go in alphabetical order from A to Z. Today's team: LA Clippers.
Last year's record: 40-42.
In: Ruben Patterson (free agent), Brevin Knight (free agent), Al Thorton (draft), Dan Dickau (free agent), Guillermo Diaz (Europe), Josh Powell (free agent).
Out: Jason Hart (free agent), Jared Jordan (trade), James Singelton (Europe), Daniel Ewing (waived), Doug Christie (waived), Will Conroy (waived), Elton Brand (injury, though he'll probably be back), Shaun Livingston (injury).
Projected starting lineup (without Brand): Sam Cassell, Cuttino Mobley, Corey Maggette, Tim Thomas, Chris Kaman.
Bench (in no particular order): Brevin Knight, Guillermo Diaz, Dan Dickau, Quinton Ross, Al Thorton, Ruben Patterson, Yaroslav Korolev, Josh Powell, Aaron Williams, Paul Davis.
So what do we think? They're doomed, right? Can Elton Brand return? Will Sam Cassell somehow turn back the clock? Chris Kaman in 06/07: Aberration, or beginning of a downward trend? Who's going to score without Brand? Don't they have enough small forwards already?
Even with Brand and Livingston, I'm not sure this is a playoff team. They probably should have made it last year, considering the Corey Maggette/Mike Dunleavy feud lasted half the season, and when Maggette finally got minutes, they started playing well. But even if they had made it, it would have been as a low seed, and it would have been a negative trend.
Now, without Brand, all those deficiencies are going to be accentuated. They don't have any shooters, save for Mobley, and without Brand to draw double-teams, they'll have even fewer open looks. They have no power forwards that can rebound, and I'm thinking Kaman's season is going to be the start of a trend. Their best lineup is putting Ruben Patterson at power forward, but then who will grab rebounds?
Also, they have way too many small forwards, and no shooting guards or power forwards. Did they really need Al Thorton when they already had Maggette, Quinton Ross, and Tim Thomas, and were about to sign Patterson? Thorton seems like a decent player, but when is he ever going to play.
The best-case scenario is that they tread water without Brand, thanks to a relatively easy schedule, then turn it on when he gets back to approach .500. The worst-case scenario is that they're even worse than Memphis was last season without their star. I'm leaning closer towards worst-case scenario.
I'll say they finish 23-59.
Other CDs, with mine and Jake's projected record alongside. Yours, of course, are in the comments of those posts.
Charlotte: 42-40/39-43. Of course, this news changes everything. Now, I say the Bobcats finish 35-47.
Golden State: 36-46/35-47.