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 new and improved Clippers starting lineup is theoretically undersized, with two rookies in the backcourt alongside 6-foot-1 Patrick Beverley, but they’ve been able to succeed in spite of that because Beverley has the ability to guard much bigger wings. Even though both Landry Shamet and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have more than a few inches on Beverley, neither of them come close to approximating the defensive vigor of Mr. 94 Feet. Beverley was matched up against LeBron James, Paul George, and Jaylen Brown this past week, and he came out on the other end smelling like roses.
Beverley defended George for 44 possessions. On those possessions, he held George to seven points on just 3-of-10 shooting from the field and 1-of-5 shooting from three. It was a rough shooting night for George altogether, who finished just 5-of-16 from the field. Beverley also forced four George turnovers, while allowing just one assist.
That performance came after Beverley demanded to guard James in Monday’s game, which he also handled with aplomb. His defensive versatility unlocks LA’s most powerful offensive lineups, making Beverley incredibly important for the Clippers’ overall success. He’s a very capable offensive player as well, even though he has the lowest usage rate of any combo guard in the league. He still shoots 39 percent on threes, which account for 55 percent of his total shot attempts, making Beverley a paragon of efficiency on both ends of the floor.
LA has such a deep roster that Beverley was knocked out of the starting lineup and was only averaging 25 minutes per game before Jan. 20, when he found his way back into the first unit. Since then, he is averaging 32 minutes per game, and the Clippers are better off for it. Before Jan. 20, the Clippers’ net rating was plus-0.4 through 45 games; it has spiked to plus-3.3 since then.
Patrick Beverley channels the Clippers’ team spirit. Over the past few weeks, his energy has been in full force, and it has elevated the team’s play to a new level.
At the start of the season, the Clippers appeared to prioritize Jerome Robinson’s development over that of other young perimeter players on the team like Tyrone Wallace and Sindarius Thornwell. That made sense at the time because LA had spent a first-round draft pick on Robinson, he was under cheap team control for several years, and it was only logical to invest in that asset.
Now, however, Robinson has been boxed out by Landry Shamet, who has been a superior player to Robinson throughout their rookie seasons. Most importantly, Shamet has been better than Robinson at the latter’s trademark skill: scoring the basketball. Shamet is also on a team-friendly contract as a first-round pick, so his arrival has filled the niche that Robinson was trying to occupy on the Clippers.
LA is making a playoff push, and Doc Rivers will only play players who have earned their minutes. Robinson has been wonderful in the G-League, but that production hasn’t translated yet to the NBA club; as a result, he has only played 14 minutes over the last 10 games, all of which have come in garbage time. It’s hard to imagine that role changing over the final month of the season.
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As remarkable as Patrick Beverley has been, there may come a time, perhaps in the playoffs, when the Clippers need more size on the wing. Since Luc Mbah a Moute hasn’t played since the first week of the season, the only player who fits that build is Wilson Chandler.
Chandler was acquired from the Sixers in the Tobias Harris trade and took the floor for the first time with LA last night against the Celtics. As Rivers mentioned postgame, he didn’t know any of the plays and stopped and turned toward the bench when he first entered the game because he had no idea what was going on, which elicited some laughter from his new teammates. Jokes aside, he will have to learn quickly because the Clippers are deep, and they have shown the ability to succeed without him.
However, Chandler theoretically provides something the team doesn’t yet have: a more physical defensive option against bigger wings. Chandler is a low-maintenance player and was having one of his most efficient seasons of the last five years in Philadelphia before suffering a quad strain. He gives LA another look to throw at second units. Even if he takes a little while to adjust to a new team, he is a luxury for the Clippers to have, and a player who can raise the team’s ceiling in the right situation.