Name: Sam Dekker
Age: 23 (but soon to be 24 on May 6th — happy early birthday, Sam!)
Years in NBA: 3
Key Stats: 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game; shot only 16.7% from three-point range; played 12.1 minutes per game over 73 appearances.
2017-2018 Salary: $1,794,600
Future Contract Status: Dekker is signed through the 2019-20 season, at which time he will be a Restricted Free Agent.
Summary: Dekker played in 73 games, averaging 12 minutes per game, and only earned one start for a team riddled with injuries, which, on the surface does not seem like a successful season. That suspicion is confirmed by looking at his three point shooting, which was an abysmal 16.7% from the field. Yes, he average fewer than one attempt per game, but that just further shows that he was not a productive option on the offensive side of the floor. He did not meet expectations, especially as a shooter, and let G-League call-ups and rookies steal his minutes. His athleticism rendered him useful at times, but not nearly often enough.
Strengths: Dekker’s Defensive Rating was 103.8, which puts him right between Draymond Green and Hassan Whiteside. I am aware that I am presenting this figure in a fairly context-less manner, though I think presenting it in this way is instructive: His rating indicates he is a good defender, based on the company he is in, but Clippers fans who watched him all season wouldn’t have guessed the numbers would suggest such. His strength, therefore, is in his ability to not screw things up, I would offer. He had a positive +/- on the season by simply being competent most of the time. And his athletic ability allows him to be as productive as possible for a player that is not an offensive threat. Oh, and he’s a pretty good passer — better than I expected, at least.
Weaknesses: Shooting, shooting, shooting. This is why Jamil Wilson, Sindarius Thornwell, CJ Williams, and Ty Wallace — all rookies — all got minutes over him. Mentioning anything other than that would dilute the point.
Future with Clippers: Dekker’s contract gets slightly more expensive as it goes on (2.7 million next year, 3.9 mil thereafter), so the Clippers might see him as wasted space on the roster if he does not earn more time through increased production and more efficiency from the field.
Dekker is the type of player one wants in the modern NBA: A 6’9” wing who is big and coordinated enough to, in theory, guard either an opponent’s perimeter player or stretch-big. He has only been in the league for three seasons, with the first being largely a false-start, so there should be plenty of room for improvement.
Assuming the Clippers remain something similar to what we saw this year, one can imagine Dekker’s next two years either being an opprotunity to learn from a player like Tobias Harris, who should be his goal in terms of style and productivity of play, or being another potential 3-and-D player who falls short of expectations (think Wesley Johnson, Ryan Gomes, etc.).
Or, of course, the Clippers could easily tack him onto a trade package, which could have happened this year had the Pistons-Clippers trade added up a little differently. I suppose the takeaway from these last now four paragraphs would be: Sam Dekker, given his relatively low salary and the Clippers’ need for another good Small Forward, will be given the opportunity to improve — and his future with the Clippers will largely depend on his ability to shoot much better from the field.