The Los Angeles Clippers can't really afford to lose many games. That sounds like an obvious statement, something we could apply to almost any team. But, in the case of Los Angeles, they're a decent squad that isn't so far off from missing the playoffs.
The Western Conference is deep, competitive enough to where Bradford Doolittle's ESPN model has the Clips as the sixth-ranked team. Below them lie the Jazz, Grizzlies and Mavericks, all franchises that would count a lottery visit as a massive disappointment.
My assumption is that Doolittle's projection doesn't take Blake Griffin's offseason knee injury into account, or Chris Paul's recent thumb surgery. According to a Clippers press release (remember, they had good reason to shade toward the positive side), Paul will be out eight weeks—two weeks into the preseason.
Los Angeles simply can't afford for Paul to miss more time than a brief couple of weeks, considering the thinness of this roster. Names like Lamar Odom, Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford sound impressive, but there isn't a track record of recent success for any of these role players.
The Clips are banking on an improved Blake jumper (via ESPN), which could well happen. That is a hope, and not necessarily a guarantee. Blake has, shall I say, much room for improvement.
I am only discussing this injury in terms of how much time Chris Paul might miss, because I cannot pretend to know how such an injury might impact his play. This is also a concern, though, simply because the Clippers were merely good last year, a season in which CP3 played near-flawless basketball.
Donald Sterling's team has two big names and one legitimate superstar (Chris Paul). On the surface, "Lob City" seems somewhat invulnerable. The star power belies how thin their margin of error might be in a stacked Western Conference.