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LA Clippers 2017-2018 Player Previews: Marshall Plumlee, Tyrone Wallace, and C.J. Williams

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The Clippers’ three training camp invites all bring unique skills to the table. What are the expectations for them in the 2017-2018 season?

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Marshall Plumlee:

Height: 7’0

Weight: 250 pounds

Age: 25

NBA Experience: 1 season

Position: Center

Key Stats: 21 NBA games played, averaged 1.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in 8.1 minutes per game in 2016-2017 on the Knicks

Contract Status: Partially guaranteed ($50,000) for 2017-2018 season

Expectations: Marshall Plumlee is the youngest of the Plumlee brothers. He is also, at least going by college stats, the least of the Plumlee brothers. Miles was a solid rotation player and sometime starter at Duke for most of his time there, while Mason became a starter by his sophomore year, and was the team’s star in his senior season. Marshall didn’t get more than scrap minutes until his last season, and while he put up fine numbers, it’s clear that he is a more limited player than his brothers. Worse, all three are of a type that’s rapidly going out of style in the NBA: big men who can’t shoot or protect the basket. Marshall has extremely limited NBA experience (under 200 minutes), and is already 25. He could improve, but he likely is what he is—a big body who can give a handful of minutes and commit six hard fouls. That might be underselling what Plumlee does (he’s obviously one of the best basketball players in the world), yet it doesn’t seem like he has much to offer the Clippers at the NBA level outside of helping in practice. I would guess that the Clippers cut him sometime in training camp, and that he joins the Agua Caliente Clippers either as their second two-way player, or just as a regular signee. If he does stick with the LA Clippers, I don’t see him entering more than a few games in garbage time. His best chance to make an NBA roster is as a defensive presence, so look for any news about his defense in training camp.

Tyrone Wallace:

Height: 6’5

Weight: 195 pounds

Age: 23

NBA Experience: Rookie (2nd round pick in 2016, spent whole season in D-League)

Position: Point Guard

Key Stats: 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.3 steals per game on 45.2/24.2/69.7 shooting (4.9 free throw attempted) in 26.8 minutes per game

Contract Status: Signed to a training camp contract (no cap hit): stipend paid on a per-day basis

Expectations: Wallace is a tall and athletic point guard who is quick at darting into the lane and drawing fouls around the basket. What he isn’t, however, is a modern NBA point guard. He’s not a great passer out of the pick and roll, and he can’t shoot. The latter is the biggest roadblock to Wallace’s NBA career, as almost every point guard in the NBA now has to be able to have some semblance of a shot to run an offense to its maximum potency. The good news is that Wallace is still young-ish, and shooting is a skill that can be improved upon over years of playing professionally. If he’s unable to develop an at least adequate shot, Wallace would need to turn into something resembling current day Shaun Livingston: a versatile defender who can get an offense into basic sets and make simple plays. While I do think that Wallace could carve out a niche for himself in the NBA, it’s unlikely to happen this season, unless he displays a vastly improved shot at training camp. Moreover, the Clippers have five players who could theoretically play minutes at point guard, and don’t really need another. If Wallace does end up on the AC Clippers, as seems probable, his shooting and assist stats will be the numbers to watch as his NBA-ready barometer.

C.J. Williams:

Height: 6’5

Weight: 230 pounds

Age: 27

NBA Experience: Rookie (several years overseas and in D-League)

Position: Shooting Guard

Key Stats: 12.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per game on 44.1/38.6/78.6 shooting (5.5 threes attempted) in 29.2 minutes per game

Contract Status: Signed to a training camp contract (no cap hit): stipend paid on a per-day basis

Expectations: As the oldest of the three training camp signees, it makes sense that Williams is the closest to being an NBA player. At age 27, Williams is a fully developed talent, and has been a starter on some very good teams in both Europe and the D-League. He’s essentially a “3 & D” guard, focusing on the three-point shooting aspect. Players who can hit a multitude of three pointers are always valuable to NBA teams, and while Williams isn’t exactly Steph Curry, he’s certainly a proficient outside gunner. If he proves capable of hitting them consistently against NBA-level competition in camp, he has a real shot at making an NBA team. The Clippers, due to their tax situation, probably won’t be the team to sign him (at least at the start of the season), though he could be an interesting mid-season call-up from the G-League if the roster changes at some point. It’s still most likely that Williams ends up on the AC Clippers, but he doesn’t really have much to prove in the G-League anymore. If he doesn’t make it onto an NBA team, it’s quite possible that he goes back overseas.