“Proof is in the pudding. My name is straight in the NBA.” That’s all Patrick Beverley had to say when addressing his case for First Team All-Defense.
No player takes more pride in their defensive efforts than Patrick Beverley. On the first game of the 2018 season, he proudly yelled “FIRST TEAM” as he hounded Lonzo Ball during Ball’s NBA debut. That year, Beverley didn’t get the chance to back up his claim, as an injury forced him to end his season at 11 games. This year, he’s been healthy enough to state his case again, and play 75+ games.
Compared to other guards specifically, Beverley ranks second among guards and 10th in the NBA in FG% allowed (10+ contested hots per game).
When making the case for Beverley, you need to look at his individual numbers, and compare him to other potential defensive player of the year candidates, like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
This data tracks Beverley, George, and Leonard’s numbers against all the player’s they’ve defended all year. The “DIFF%” represents the difference between the field goal percentage when guarded by these players, as opposed to their regular average.
Overall, Patrick Beverley holds people to a lower field goal percentage than both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Beverley is the only player to hold his opposition in a negative percentage in all three categories: overall, 3 pointers, and 2 pointers.
It’s also incredibly interesting that Beverley is the best at forcing his opposition to shoot 15+ footers, forcing his opponents to shoot 53.2% of them. What makes this number so special intriguing is the difference in height: Beverley is 6’1’’, George is 6’9’’, and Leonard is 6’7’’. Smaller players tend to give up an advantage in the NBA. That does not apply to Pat.
These aren’t empty numbers either, Beverley is guarding the best players on the opposing team, and the Clippers are winning these games.
“He’s always guarding the best player on the opposing team. He’s always shutting down those players. Our defense has been great. I don’t know the advanced stats or whatever, but he’s very good at it. It shows you that we’re playing good defense, and that he’s always shutting down the best opposing guys.” - Ivica Zubac
This specific game against Paul George is the perfect example of Beverley’s prowess when guarding a top player. In the March 8th game against the Thunder, Beverley guarded Paul George on 44 possessions. In those 44 possessions, George only scored 7 points against Beverley, had 4 turnovers, went 3/10 from the field, and 1/5 from deep.
George was taken so out of his element that he ended up shooting 5/16 from the field, went -17, and fouled out of the game.
I’ve personally heard Beverley scream in a locker room that he’s going to guard the opposing team’s best player. That type of attitude brings an intangible to a team. Every single member of the roster wants to step up their defensive game, because their leader is willing to do so. It’s an attitude that head coach Doc Rivers believes gives Beverley a case for an all-defensive nomination.
“Definitely. I don’t make a lot of cases, but for sure. If there’s another award for the unstatable player of the year, he’s that for sure.” - Doc Rivers
Beverley’s defensive presence carries beyond what a typical fan can see. He brings his ferocity, and leadership to every single practice.
“Obviously from the outside going in, you know he’s an elite defender. But when you’re in the mix with him, and you see it every day in practice, and what he does to opposing teams and his defense against All-Stars...” - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
In the words of Patrick Beverley, “men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t.” The case for Patrick Beverley being an All-Defense member can be simply stated not only by looking at the eye test, but by looking at his defensive numbers.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had the statement that perfectly encapsulates the LA Clippers’ belief in Beverley, taken at the end of his quote above.
“Personally, without question, he’s First Team All-Defense.”