The 35/55 Rule : A Guest Post by Alex Knapp

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m a Portland Trail Blazer fan. I WANT them to win.
I’m not going to hide my bias or pretend I don’t care about the outcome of a game, or even the ten thousand variables that went into said outcome of that game (if a Pat Connaughton flaps his wings).
In fact, I’m going to use this bias and knowledge of the team to better inform my predictions of their success this season. After all, this is the team I read about and watch the most – shouldn’t I be relatively knowledgeable about them? And aren’t I capable as a rational human to formulate thoughts that aren’t only purely based out of emotional feelings towards the success of the team?
“THE BLAZERS ARE THE BEST CUZ I LIKE THEM A LOT.” – dumb fan with zero basketball knowledge or insight
Therefore, I wrote in my previous guest post – and will continue to believe that they win less than 27.5 games this season (the Vegas over/under).

Now we are 5 games into the season and the Blazers are 3-2. Fans are scoffing at the 27.5 win line, with most eyeing a 35-40 win season, and the select few who wear Rose city colored glasses lamenting an 8th seeded playoff berth – “Listen, CJ is a top 5 SG in the league and Ed Davis is a skinny Z-bo. WE ARE GETTING THE 8th SEED!”

Yet, I’m holding strong.

I don’t think the Blazers have the horses to consistently put up enough points in the stacked west. I think our team is made up of unproven, slightly above average – mismatched  pieces, with horrible perimeter defense from our starting guards, and a general lack of rim protection behind that. I think we lose a lot of close 4th quarter games, and are always at risk of blowing a big lead that we get early in the game. Make no mistake, this team is lottery bound. AND THAT’S OKAY!!!!! 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…to why we are actually here….

The 35/55 rule.
I’ve developed a simple theory/mathematical equation to predict the probability of the Blazers success this season. By keying in on a few simple box scores numbers, I believe I could successfully tell you the outcome of a game, without having the final score revealed to me.

This theory revolves around the scoring of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Separately and in conjunction.
Why? because their scoring is the single most consistent thing about this team, or at least fans of them winning hope it is.
It’s also the greatest predictor of our offense putting up enough numbers to be even competitive in any game.
The difference between Aminu putting in 6 and 18 points essentially has no baring on whether we win or lose.
Ed Davis playing solid defense and snagging 12 rebounds isn’t a strong enough correlation to us winning games.

Simply put no one else on this team impacts the game enough to make a difference – other than Dame and CJ’s scoring output.

So let’s look at some numbers:

Game 1:  37 + 21  = 58  = W
Game 2:  16 + 24  = 40  = L
Game 3:  15 + 23  = 38  = L
Game 4:  18 + 34  = 52  = W
Game 5:  27 + 35  = 62  = W

Are we noticing a trend…..?

It’s really simple guys, the first column is CJ’s points that game, the second column is Dame’s points that game, and the third column is their combined points.

Each time one of them scores close to 35 points, and combined they score close to 55, they win.
Each they don’t do both of those things, they lose.

Let’s take a second look with everything labeled:

               CJ     Dame     Both   Outcome
Game 1:  37  +   21      = 58     = W
Game 2:  16  +   24      = 40     = L
Game 3:  15  +   23      = 38     = L
Game 4:  18  +   34      = 52     = W

Game 5:  27  +   35      = 62     = W

My prediction : They will continue to win whenever the 35/55 rule is reached, and will continue to lose every game it’s not.
Now this isn’t an exact science, if Henderson comes back and puts up big numbers or Aminu gets hot and puts in 25+ one game (allowing CJ to take a night off), then those nights the rule won’t be reached and the Blazers might get the Win. I hope they do.
However, I truly think around 85% of games this year (70 games) will fall under the 35/55 rule, and it will become the easiest predictor of success for the Blazers this season.

This is also why I believe Lillard has a punchers chance of the Points Per Game title.
He will need to average close to 28 ppg if this team is going to win any where close to 30 games.
Take a gander at the box scores every night and do the math in your head…you’ll start to see I’m right. I’ll post another update to this rule every 20 games or so just to show the progress.

Alex Knapp is a Portlander living in Brooklyn, New York for the past 7 years.
A filmmaker and actor currently working in HR to pay the bills, Alex is an avid NBA basketball fan who likely has an opinion on every team and every player, seriously – try him. 
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