3 reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers would beat the Clippers in a series

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

Rotations are tighter in the playoffs, which favors the more top-heavy team (the Los Angeles Lakers)

The Los Angeles Clippers happen to have one of the deepest teams in the league. Having players of the caliber of Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Landry Shamet come off the bench is the envy of most teams, including the Lakers.

However, depth is much less of a factor when it comes to the playoffs, as teams tend to eschew load management in favor of playing their stars approximately 40 minutes a night.

Last season’s champions, the Toronto Raptors, were known as one of the deepest teams in the league. Yet, once the playoffs started, the coaching staff shifted their typical minute allocation to give players such as Kawhi Leonard (from 34 MPG to 39 MPG) and Pascal Siakam (from 32 MPG to 37 MPG) significantly more court time in place of lesser players.

Meanwhile, during the previous postseason, the championship-winning Golden State Warriors had 4 players averaging over 37 minutes per game in their series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The depth advantage that the Clippers have over the Lakers is more pronounced in the regular season, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis often concurrently resting for extended periods. LeBron in particular is averaging the lowest minutes-per-game of his career (34.9).

However, come playoff time, I fully expect both those guys to be playing 40 minutes per game, with their bench time staggered. Williams and Harrell won’t be able to dominate reserves for extended stretches if one of those two is on the court.

If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you’ve likely come to realize that VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) is my single favorite advanced statistic to quantify how good a player has been in a given season. To date, here are how the four superstars between the two teams rank in this statistic:

  1. LeBron James – 5.6
  2. Anthony Davis – 5.0
  3. Kawhi Leonard – 4.6
  4. Paul George – 2.0

VORP appears to penalize players for not playing a high percentage of a team’s minutes and thus penalizes injuries, which skews the argument in favor of the Lakers duo. If we instead use an advanced statistic that is normalized like Win Shares Per 48 Minutes, we are left with the following result:

  1. Anthony Davis – .262
  2. Kawhi Leonard – .222
  3. LeBron James – .218
  4. Paul George – .153

I believe that to date, the LeBron/Davis combination has been significantly better than the Leonard/George pairing. The difference between the next six best players on each team is heavily in favor of the Clippers (7.0 VORP vs 4.4 VORP), but such is the impact of stars, that the cumulative VORP of the top 8 from each team is still in favor of the Lakers — 15.0 compared to 13.6.

What do you think is going to happen to that discrepancy in the playoffs, where the starters are given far more court-time than normal? The odds will be further skewed towards the more top-heavy team, which happens to be the Los Angeles Lakers.

Next. The Lakers all-time starting five, with no teammates allowed. dark

What do you believe would transpire if the Lakers and the Clippers were to meet in the playoffs this season? As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments below!