LeBron James and Chris Paul on the same team? As my ESPN colleagues Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne report Wednesday, it's a possibility next season. Since James and Paul have teamed up only to help USA Basketball win gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, imagining how the Los Angeles Clippers might play with James in place of Blake Griffin requires some imagination. That's where my SCHOENE projection system comes in.
Using the same methodology that generated this year's preseason NBA projections, I projected a possible 2014-15 Clippers roster based on player stats from the previous three seasons and how similar players developed at the same age. Aside from adding James, I left the rotation otherwise intact, plugging him directly into the 36 minutes per game Griffin has averaged this season.
Based on all that, SCHOENE projects the Clippers winning between 59 and 60 games. And while that might not sound like much, keep in mind that projection systems are conservative by design. Only the San Antonio Spurs were projected to win more than 55 games this season, and just two teams in the past five years have had better projections -- the 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers and 2011-12 Miami Heat, both of whom went on to win the championship.