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.
The Rooster returned after a 10-game injury absence right in time to steady the Clipper ship just as a bunch of new mates are coming aboard. Gallinari has been one of the team’s best offensive players all season — his offensive rating of 112 is second only to Lou Williams among LA’s rotation players — and his presence has once again been a boon to the Clippers’ scoring ability, particularly in the starting lineup.
Gallinari is a nightmare to defend since he is able to shoot from all over the floor. He has hit 6-of-12 3-pointers in his last two games as well as 7-of-7 free throws, which all came in LA’s historic comeback win against the Boston Celtics. From his first bucket, when he easily drained a 28-footer on a broken play, Gallinari has shown a remarkable level of comfort after dealing with back spasms, which is a welcome sight for all involved.
The veteran forward is also one of the Clippers’ better playmakers, even if it isn’t necessarily reflected in his assist totals. His shooting gravity generates space for other players, and Gallinari is able to survey the floor quickly to find those openings. Without Tobias Harris, Gallinari will be forced to assume a greater creation responsibility in the starting lineup. He has already shown some chemistry with his new teammates, like he does with Ivica Zubac here.
The Clippers roster has undergone a lot of changes in the past few days, but Gallinari’s consistent play means the team is still a viable playoff challenger.
This isn’t so much a function of how Johnathan Motley has played, but rather that the trade deadline brought in some stiff competition for his minutes. Montrezl Harrell has his role, and he’s essentially untouchable, but when Marcin Gortat and Boban Marjanovic were the other centers, there was an reason for Motley to earn playing time with his activity and quick moves in the paint. That is no longer the case.
On offense, Zubac is a better pick-and-roll player (keeping in mind that Zubac is in his third NBA season) who sets harder screens and is a bigger target in the paint. Zubac also provides significantly better rim protection than Motley, aided by the fact that he is three inches taller with a higher standing reach.
In LA’s last game, the team’s first with a full roster since the deadline, Motley didn’t get any minutes. Motley took advantage of his opportunity when he was first brought up to the NBA team, playing a pivotal role in a 3-1 road trip, including a win over San Antonio. However, over the last two weeks, Motley has a net rating of minus-18.0. LA doesn’t need to play him anymore, so he’ll have to improve his efficiency to stay on the court.
Keep an eye on:
The newly-acquired rookie is the apple of every Clipper fan’s eye right now, his 17 points catalyzing the team’s win in Boston. There is no reason to think that can’t continue, considering Shamet was shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers in Philadelphia and has scored at least 17 points three other times this season. Doc Rivers already has an implicit comfort level with Shamet, given his ability to run the same actions as former Clipper J.J. Redick. LA also likes to run three-guard lineups in the second unit, so Shamet could find a regular role alongside Lou Williams and Jerome Robinson.
The only reason Shamet isn’t in the first block of this post is because he has played one game in a Clipper uniform, and it might be best to exercise some caution before expecting the Wichita State product to produce historic outcomes every night. Sure, he comes off screens like a rocket and has a sweeter release than just about anybody on the roster, but he is also a first-year player who will inevitably have the ups-and-downs of all rookies and deserves some patience as he continues to acclimate to not only the league, but also an entirely new team and city. Nevertheless, Shamet has already endeared himself to the fan base, and the voice of the Clippers, which is an auspicious start to his LA tenure.