Name: Amir Coffey
Years in the NBA: 1 year
Key stats: Coffey averaged 15.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 29.1 minutes per game in 15 appearances for the Agua Caliente Clippers. He suited up for the LA Clippers 18 times, averaging 8.8 minutes per game.
Future contract status: Coffey is entering the second year of two-year, two-way deal signed with the Clippers last offseason that limits him to 45 days of service time at the NBA level.
Amir Coffey’s rookie season got off to a slow start as he suffered an ankle sprain during preseason, forcing him to sit out until Dec. 17. Once he took the court, however, Coffey made an immediate impact. It took only two weeks for him to make his NBA debut, which came in garbage time in Sacramento. Coffey eventually found regular minutes with the big club in February and may have been on the cusp of carving out a larger role before the shutdown.
Once the NBA season restarted in Orlando, Coffey earned an invite to the bubble on the team’s 15-man roster ahead of fellow two-way player Johnathan Motley and 2019 first-round pick Mfiondu Kabengele. The theory of bringing Coffey along made a lot of sense, as a lengthy wing to bring off the bench (the Clippers backup backcourt is a bit small), but the team didn’t utilize Coffey in the competitive portion of games, other than the final seeding game when most of the Clippers starters sat out. Coffey played 159 minutes for the Clippers during the regular season — 49 came against OKC that day.
While in the G League, Coffey excelled on the offensive side of the ball. He shot 48.3% from the field and made 40% of his 5.0 3-point attempts per game, rectifying the primary weakness he had in college. Coffey was also excellent at finishing at the rim. He took 31% of his shots within five feet of the basket, about an average rate for an NBA wing, but he finished 72.2% of those attempts, a conversion rate that would place him among the top 10 percent of wings.
Coffey shined in college as a playmaker, leading Big 10 forwards in assists per game. He showed in the G League that he can still direct the offense and run pick-and-rolls. That’s one of the primary ways he gets into the paint, or as Brian Sieman would say, how Coffey “gets to the cup”. Ideally, that gives him a higher ceiling than a prototypical 3-and-D wing because he has some juice off the bounce. Coffey had the highest offensive rating (113.2 points per 100 possessions) of any AC Clipper who played at least three games for the team.
The LA Clippers were most interested in Coffey’s defensive potential. At 6’7, he was the only wing-sized player the team could bring off the bench, and they used him as a defensive change of pace near the end of the pre-hiatus regular season. Even if his numbers don’t yet back that up, it’s important that he earned that trust from the Clippers coaching staff.
Although Coffey’s G League shooting numbers were encouraging, he only shot 71.8% from the free-throw line and 6-of-19 from three at the NBA level, which suggests there is some work to be done on his shooting stroke. He also doesn’t rebound the ball particularly well for his size; he had the second-lowest rebounding percentage on the AC Clippers, and no player on that team is taller than 6’9.
Coffey brought consistent effort to the defensive end when he was in Los Angeles, but failed to always do so in Ontario when he was a primary offensive option. He has to be more focused when guarding off-ball and he could stand to add some strength if he’s going to hold up against NBA wings.
Future with the Clippers:
The Clippers have Coffey signed to a two-way contract for 2020-21. It’s possible that he gets upgraded to a minimum and fights for minutes on the LA roster, but it seems likely that he’ll continue to develop his game in Ontario unless the G League can’t resume operations during the pandemic.
Overall grade: B+
There were no expectations for Coffey heading into this season. He still managed to improve individually and earn a trip to the restart. The Clippers don’t have many young prospects, but Coffey is an intriguing one.