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2017-18 Clippers Exit Interview: Patrick Beverley

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Injury robbed the defensive ace of his first season with the Clippers.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Patrick Beverley

Age: 29

Years in NBA: 6

Key Stats: 11 G, 11 GS, 30.4 MIN, 12.2 PTS, 2.9 AST, 2.3 TO, 1.6 STL, 40.3% FG, 40% 3PT

2017-18 Salary: $5,513,513

Future Contract Status: One year remaining, $5,027,027 non-guaranteed. Unrestricted free agent in 2019.

Summary: There’s not much to say about Patrick Beverley’s 2017-18 campaign other than that it would’ve been nice to see more. Beverley started each of his first 11 games as a Clipper before suffering a microfracture and meniscus injury to his right knee. The resulting surgery sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Up to that point, Beverley had been enjoying his largest NBA role yet, with a career-high usage rate contributing to a career-high scoring average. On paper, he looked like a tidy fit within a deep and versatile group of guards, where his off-the-ball game — honed by his Houston years next to the ball-dominant James Harden — would allow him to pair with either of Doc Rivers’ three other planned options.

Beverley was also given more creative responsibility than ever before. His rate of pull-up jumpers increased from 19.8% in 2016-17 to 27% this season. Added to a typically strong 40% splash rate from deep and his famed defense, Beverley’s burgeoning off-the-bounce game might have propelled him to a best-ever year were he to have played more than an eighth of it.

Strengths: D-E-F-E-N-S-E. By nearly any metric, anecdote, or observation, Beverley is an elite defensive point guard. Beverley doesn’t guard his opponent so much as clothe them. Then he steals their wallet. He’s as close to a point guard stopper as any man in the league.

Beverley can also stroke it. In his last full campaign, Beverley took nearly four catch-and-shoot threes per game and canned roughly 42.9% of them.

If your team has a ball-dominant playmaker at any other position and you need a point guard to shoot and do the dirty work, Beverley is your man. He’s a premier three-and-D point.

Weaknesses: Beverley is an improving distributor, but an assist-to-turnover ratio that barely cracks one is evidence that he has a distance to go. Beverley isn’t meant to be your first or second option. You don’t spread the floor and ask him to run the high pick and roll 30 times each game, at least, not if you want to be effective. You need to surround him with playmakers and let him flourish in his role.

Future with Clippers: Like with many players on the roster, it’s unknown. These Clippers, now acting like the most functional franchises, value flexibility. They’re open to any option or opportunity to make the team better.

Beverley and midseason acquisition Avery Bradleydiscussed by Kenneth Armstrong on Friday — are similar players built for the same role. I can’t imagine the Clippers plan to enter next season with both, but I won’t eliminate the possibility that they ride with Bradley instead.

Beverley is cheaper but older, and Bradley is an unrestricted free agent this summer. But, cap space is scarce, and we’ve already seen from signings like Lou Williams’ that player values will be lower than that to which they’ve been accustomed. Beverley’s low-dollar contract and high-level play — when healthy — makes him a sweet kind of trade chip. So does his ability to thrive next to a ball-handling star. If Bradley can’t find his big contract on the open market, and some other team calls with an interesting package for Beverley (with or without other stuff), don’t be surprised if the Clippers make the swap.

But there are many worse options to running it back with Beverley. It’s nice to have choices.