Name: Jamil Wilson
Years in NBA: Rookie
Key Stats: 7.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game on 46.9% shooting from the field and 42.9% shooting from three (4.2 attempts per game). Averaged 18.3 minutes in 15 games, with 10 starts.
2017-2018 Salary: $50,000
Future Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
Jamil Wilson was an unheralded addition to the Clippers’ summer league team, but quickly proved himself the best player on that squad, showing a versatile game and a deadly outside shot. He was signed to one of the new two-way deals right after summer league ended, an early sign that he would get at least some minutes in the NBA during the upcoming season. Jamil started off the season in the G-League with the Agua Caliente Clippers, as expected. However, the Clippers severe injury issues led to his call-up in late November.
After playing in garbage time in two games, Jamil’s shooting ability won him a rotation spot for the Clippers, and then a position in the starting lineup. He swiftly became a fan-favorite due to his incredible shooting—almost every shot from deep looked like it was going in. In addition, as he got more comfortable, Jamil began to display the same skills that made him such a standout in summer league: athletic help defense around the rim, smart cuts to the basket, and solid passing. Even though the Clippers were missing Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, and Pat Beverley for most of Jamil’s time with the team, they went 6-7 in games where he was in the rotation. And while Jamil certainly wasn’t the biggest reason for that relative success, he was a real part of the Clippers’ ability to stay afloat without their stars.
Sadly, Jamil’s 45 days with the Clippers ran up in late December, and with Blake Griffin on the mend, and other players (Ty Wallace) pushing their way forward, there didn’t seem to be any room for Wilson. Thus, the Clippers waived him on January 6. Shortly after, it was announced that the Lakers were about to sign him to a 10-day deal. Before the paper was signed officially, however, a report came out on TMZ decrying Jamil’s behavior off the court with his ex-girlfriend, and the contract was taken away. Jamil was then signed by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers’ G-League affiliate, and he finished the season with them.
Jamil’s biggest strength is easily his outside shooting. While he’s not as good as his 43% with the Clippers would suggest, he has a quick, easy, fluid shooting stroke, and can hit from all areas behind the arc. His larger sample size in the G-League would indicate he’s more of an upper-30s shooter from deep, but it’s quite possible he could raise that on an NBA team with superior passing and spacing.
The rest of Wilson’s offensive game isn’t outstanding, but solid. When defenders come flying out at him to prevent the three, Jamil is perfectly capable of taking a dribble or two inside the arc and canning the midrange jumper. He is a smart cutter, with a great sense of timing and spacing. His length and athleticism make him a solid finisher around the rim, and he can even unleash some sweet dunks when given enough room. Nobody would mistake Jamil for LeBron James as a passing power forward, yet he has very good court vision, and is happy to make plays for others. This passing includes dishing from the top of the key, as well as passes to fellow big men around the basket. Averaging nearly 3 assists per game this season between Agua Caliente and Fort Wayne, Jamil is certainly able to take part in a free-flowing, quick-thinking offense.
Jamil is a smart defensive player. He can make plays as a weak-side shot blocker, and sometimes can wreak havoc in the passing lanes with his instincts. Wilson is just stout enough to defend larger players in the post, at the same time being sufficiently quick to stick with smaller players on the perimeter. Again, his overall IQ enables him to make plays on the defensive end despite lacking outstanding size or athletic tools.
Outside of his shooting (and to a much lesser extent, his passing) Jamil doesn’t possess any above-average NBA tools. He can’t really create offense for himself against a set defense, as his ball-handling is at a rudimentary level. On defense, he’s smart and athletic enough to be a cog in a well-made and designed scheme, but is never going to be a stand out on that end. At 27, turning 28 next season, Jamil doesn’t really possess much upside for an NBA team: he is who he is at this point. This season, Jamil graded out at around league average (or slightly above) for advanced stats such as BPM, Win Shares per 48, and RPM. That makes him a nice rotation player, possibly a bit better with some more seasoning. Unfortunately, without much upside, NBA teams generally prefer players with more NBA experience, so it’s possible Wilson will get passed over for worse players because they’ve “been there” before.
Future with Clippers:
To be honest, I’m still a little salty that the Clippers waived Jamil back in January. I understand the position they were in—crunched for roster spots and space below the luxury tax. I also realize that Jamil isn’t a franchise-changing player, and he might not have made much a difference to the Clippers’ recently ended season. Yet…. in Jamil’s 13 rotation games, he proved he was a better option at power forward for the Clippers than both Sam Dekker and Wes Johnson. His shooting alone made him more valuable than either of those players, and his passing was superior as well. While Wes is a better defensive player, and Sam brought more sheer energy and rebounding, neither was even close to as effective over any multi-game stretch as Wilson was this season.
Imagine how nice Jamil’s shooting would have looked next to Tobias Harris, and how much space the two of them together could have created for Lou, Austin, and Milos to operate. The Clippers desperately needed outside shooting and smart defensive play the last two months of the season. Wilson definitely could have provided one of those things and would at least have been worth a shot at the other. Could Jamil’s shooting have swung several of the games that the Clippers dropped towards the end of the season? It’s certainly conceivable. In his final game with the Clippers, Jamil dropped 17 points on 9 shots, nailing 5 of his 7 three-point shots. That type of performance would have been huge down the stretch of the season.
Jamil Wilson is probably a capable NBA rotation player. And while the Clippers may have let go of him, Clippers’ officials (most recently Lawrence Frank, in his interview with Ralph and Bruce in one of the Clippers’ last games) have mentioned him as helping the team during the dark months of the season. While I wouldn’t say a return to the Clips is likely, it’s not impossible either. Even if it’s not with the Clippers, I hope Jamil gets another shot in the NBA next season. He earned it.