Weight: 185 pounds
Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard
NBA Experience: 5 years (4 as a starter)
Key Stats: Averaged 9.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in 30.7 minutes per game for the Rockets last season. Shot 42% from the field, 38.3% from three (on 4.3 attempts), and 76.8% from the free throw line (on 1.4 attempts).
Contract Status: 2 years, $10.5 million, last year is not guaranteed
Barring something unexpected happening (or an injury), Pat Beverley will be the starting point guard for the Clippers this season. He’s the best defensive guard on the roster, one of the better outside shooters, and brings intangibles by the bucket load. Beverley is also the only one of the Clippers’ four primary rotation guards who is a good fit with all of the other three, which provides him with a path to large (30+) minutes consistently. There will be times when Doc will ride with Lou Williams, Austin Rivers, or Milos Teodosic, but Beverley will be the Clippers’ rock in the backcourt.
Who is Pat Beverley:
Gritty. Tough. Energetic. Intangibles. Those are usually the first qualities brought up during a discussion of Pat Beverley as a basketball player. I even used one of them above. But I think many fans and analysts see those attributes and think of the player in question as “an underdog”, a limited contributor who gets by on hard work rather than talent. There’s an assumption of those players not necessarily being good at basketball, at being the lowly try-hard who has managed to scrape into the NBA by doing things other players don’t. Pat Beverley does those things. And he probably does think of himself as an underdog. But he’s so much more than that.
Pat Beverley was on the All Defense 1st Team last season, and made the 2nd team in the 2013-2014 season. He’s absolutely one of the toughest point guard defenders in the NBA—relentless, and difficult to shed. Bev fights over screens, he guards his man the full length of the court (earning him the moniker “Mr. 94 feet”), and contests shots like a madman. He’s not a true lockdown defensive player, but there are basically no such defenders at the point guard position. It’s just too difficult to keep modern NBA point guards out of the point, and even such stout defenders as Beverley will get left behind sometimes by the likes of Russell Westbrook or John Wall. That said, the only real knock against Beverley as a defensive player is that he’s a bit too small to guard up a position: in the modern NBA, versatility on defense is hugely important, and bigger shooting guards such as Klay Thompson and James Harden can just shoot over Beverley. However, that weakness is mitigated by his skill at chasing shooters around the court and preventing clean looks, so he’s still a viable option on bigger players off the ball. To put it simply, Pat is an elite defensive player.
While Beverley is widely acknowledged for his defensive aptitude (as the awards above show), the rest of his game continues to be underrated. It’s fair to say that he isn’t a true point guard—he doesn’t see the game a step ahead of everyone else like the best point guards in the NBA do. Nor is he a high scoring player who can get buckets at a consistent rate in isolation, or even out of the pick and roll. That lack of flash is what leads people to think that he doesn’t contribute much outside of defense and hustle. But that narrative simply isn’t true. He’s a good three-point shooter (over 38% last year, 37.5% for his career), especially off the catch, making him ideal as a fourth or fifth option alongside ball-dominant players. That’s not all though. In 754 minutes played without James Harden last season, Beverley averaged 7.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists (with only 2.6 turnovers), a strong indicator that he can be a primary playmaker out of the backcourt. His role should actually be easier on the Clippers, since Blake Griffin will be the main focal point of the offense, and Beverley can focus on secondary playmaking and ball-handling. He should thrive in that position, and Beverley’s efficiency could very well go up, even without the passing brilliance of Harden.
Here’s another way to look at it. The Rockets were 55-27 last season, one of the best teams in the NBA (non-Warriors division). Beverley was only 7th on the teams in points per game, but he was 2nd in assists, 3rd in rebounds, and tied for 2nd in steals. Looking at advanced stats, he was 4th on the Rockets in Win Shares, and a clear 2nd in Box Plus Minus. Moreover, three of the Rockets’ top 11 lineups (in minutes played) featured Beverly without Harden. The plus-minus of those lineups: 18.9, 10.6, and 17.6! Those are insane numbers, and while Beverley certainly wasn’t playing with scrubs in those minutes, he was still the point guard and lead player on them.
Taking all these stats together paints a picture of how important Beverley was to the Rockets last season. It’s not an outrageous statement to say he one of their top 3 players, and one could even make an argument for him being 2nd best. Yes, James Harden was obviously the best player on that team, and they rose and fell with his play (he’s who I would have selected for MVP). And sure, the Rockets were deep, and had 7-8 players who were all solid contributors and important to their success. Even so, being a top 3 player on a 55 win team is no small thing.
None of this is to say Patrick Beverley is perfect, or even that he can live up to the incredibly high standards set by Chris Paul in the modern Clippers’ era. There were already times in the first preseason game where I missed Chris. Pat over-penetrated the paint on several occasions, and couldn’t really do much when that happened. CP would weave his way through the lane all the time, turn around, and drain a midrange jumper. It looked easy, yet it was far from it: there are few guys who can make that play (in fact, maybe just one). Beverley isn’t as good a pure shooter as Paul. He’s not going to be automatic from the elbow, and is he not as big a scoring threat off the pick and roll in general. Nor is he as brilliant a passer. But Chris Paul is a top five point guard in the history of basketball (at lowest). Nobody in the NBA barring Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, or John Wall was going to do anything close to what Chris did for the Clippers.
Pat Beverley is awesome. He’s a terrific defensive player, fantastic on the glass, and an underrated shooter and playmaker on offense. Providing he stays healthy, he will give the Clippers a great option at point guard (and off-guard) every single night. That’s not even taking into account all the intangibles or the locker room presence. Bev will become a fan favorite in no time (he was the favorite player of many Rockets’ fans over the last few seasons, based on apocryphal evidence only); he is, in fact, already well on the way there. The Clippers may not have a Point God anymore, but they have a very fine point guard, and he will be key to their success in the seasons to come.