Welcome back to Stock Watch, a regular feature where we’ll check in on which Clippers are playing well, not so hot, or just can’t crack the rotation.
Tobias Harris had scored at least 15 points in every game this season until Friday, when the Memphis Grizzlies limited him to 12. All Harris did was follow up his worst offensive outing of the year with the best of his career, tying his career high with 34 points on 22 shots along with 11 rebounds as he led the Clippers to yet another comeback victory, this time over the Portland Trail Blazers.
LA hasn’t been hit hard with the injury bug, but there have been significant shakeups in the team’s rotation so far. Harris has been the one constant, the lone Clipper to start every game this season, and he has delivered throughout. He is having the most efficient scoring season of his career, despite taking a high volume of shots from midrange. He is even creating a good chunk of his offense on his own, perhaps due to playing with a more defensively-minded backcourt. Per Cleaning the Glass, Harris is shooting 62 percent at the rim, 50 percent from midrange, and 43 percent from three — the latter two figures are both career bests.
Harris plays the most minutes on the Clippers, four minutes more per game than Danilo Gallinari, and has embraced his role as the team’s leader. LA entered the season with no All-Stars on its roster, but that distinction could be short-lived.
Two weeks ago, Ty Wallace entered the Clippers rotation in place of Milos Teodosic to give the team a new look at backup point guard. Head coach Doc Rivers said that he had earned the right to play, and the Clippers rewarded Wallace with a two-week stint in the second unit. In six games, he played just under 11 minutes per contest off the bench, averaging about four points and one rebound while shooting 11-of-26 from the field.
The advantages of playing Ty Wallace are obvious, given his size at the one, his athleticism running the floor, and his defensive capability, particularly playing next to Lou Williams. Rivers said he was “phenomenal” when he was first given minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks. Then, after their win against the Golden State Warriors, the head coach was even more effusive.
Ty’s been terrific.... I just like his size. He plays at the highest pace of anybody on our team, so when we can get him the ball out on the open court, he’s tough. He’s strong, he gets to the basket, so he’s been good for us.
Unfortunately, regardless of what Wallace provides in the open court, he has his deficiencies on offense. He doesn’t really provide spacing — he has not hit a 3-pointer this season — and that makes him a tough fit next to the Williams-Montrezl Harrell pick-and-roll. Even though Wallace plays his minutes alongside that pair, he has the second-worst offensive rating on the Clippers at 102.5. For context, LA’s offensive rating is 112, meaning the team scores 112 points for every 100 possessions.
Wallace had a scare against the Washington Wizards, as he slammed heads with Bradley Beal and didn’t play the remainder of the game. He was already losing some time, having been replaced by Teodosic in the Clippers’ comeback against the Atlanta Hawks, and has not seen the floor since that incident. Wallace is seemingly healthy enough to still be playing, but his production hasn’t justified a continued role. That is made more difficult by the abundance of guard options on this roster. Hopefully, Ty gets another chance to make his mark; his first opportunity at extended minutes this season didn’t help his case.
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Avery Bradley missed six games with an ankle injury after a rough start to the season, but has been in the starting lineup since his return. His offense is still a work in progress; he shot 5-of-8 from the field and connected on a few midrange jumpers against the Grizzlies, but then couldn’t buy a bucket yesterday against Portland. Like Wallace, Bradley also offers little in terms of 3-point spacing, as he is shooting 22.6 percent from distance. Bradley can still attack the basket and make smart passes on offense, but the shots will have to go in for him to be effective.
Nevertheless, Bradley has made his reputation as an elite defender, and he still has his coach’s trust on that end of the floor. He takes the primary perimeter defensive assignment in most matchups. Bradley’s defensive rating for the season is 104, but that has improved to 102.4 in the last four games since he came back from injury. By net rating, Bradley has been one of LA’s two worst players overall this season, just ahead of Patrick Beverley, but he has perked up significantly recently (plus-4.7 since Nov. 10) and remains a consistent part of the Clippers rotation.