Weight: 190 pounds
Position: Point guard
NBA Experience: 1 year
8.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.0 steals in 19.7 minutes per game (23 games) with Alba Berlin last year, shooting 49.6/43.8/87.1
16.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.4 seals in 32.4 minutes per game (27 games) with Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2018, shooting 44.2/37.7/90.2
Contract Status: Exhibit 10 Contract (training camp deal with small guaranteed bonus for remaining in organization)
Frankly, there are no expectations for Derrick Walton Jr. as a Clipper this season. The Clips have 14 guaranteed roster spots, and all the hints so far are that they’re not going to add anyone else before the season begins. Now, since Walton is technically on the roster already, this could mean he’s found a place, but the more likely outcome is that he doesn’t make the team. The Clippers clearly like Walton – they brought him to Summer League, gave him fairly consistent minutes there, and then inked him to an Exhibit 10 contract. However, the flexibility of that extra roster spot is valuable. The Clippers might be thin at point guard, which gives Walton a leg up, but he’s still facing an uphill climb to make the Clippers’ NBA roster this year. Realistically, he will probably be Agua Caliente’s starting point guard, and might get a brief cup of coffee at some point in LA.
Walton brings steady competence on both sides of the court. While undersized, Walton is a dogged defender who takes great pride in his ability to bother larger players and get his hands in passing lanes. On offense, Walton is an excellent outside shooter, making him a fit both on and off the ball. Although he’s not a brilliant passer, Derrick makes good reads and is very careful with the rock, rarely succumbing to silly turnovers. In other words, he’s basically a slightly smaller, less defensively-adept Patrick Beverley, even bringing surprisingly good rebounding for a guard his height, just like Pat. The effort will always be there from Derrick, and he brings a great deal of basketball IQ to the table as well. If Walton ever played with the Clippers, he’d be a solid fit with the 2nd unit, as he would be a good secondary ball-handler alongside Lou Williams and would help with spacing the floor.
Derrick does possess some quickness, but he’s not a top-tier athlete, and that combined with his height makes it hard for him to truly create his own shots against NBA athletes. He’s definitely more of a game-manager type at the next level than a true playmaker, and doesn’t have the scoring chops to take over a game in that way. Defensively, he will get overmatched by sheer size and athleticism at times, and he’s only a one-position defender in the NBA. Besides maybe his outside shooting, there’s nothing that Walton will do better than “good” in the NBA.
I think Derrick Walton Jr. is an NBA player. Is he going to set the world on fire? No. But he is as steady as they come, a smart, well-rounded point guard who will rarely make mistakes on the court. The Clippers might not have room on their roster this season, but I believe there will be a game or two where Walton’s presence could provide some real benefits.