18 players have worn the No. 21 in Clippers history, and the best one is probably the current one, Patrick Beverley. Traded from the Houston Rockets in June 2017 as part of the Chris Paul deal, PatBev, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams became a key trio for the current iteration of the Clippers.
Beverley missed most of his first season in Los Angeles after knee surgery, but he’s been a regular last season and this one, leading with his all-around defense and chipping in across the statsheet as a good team guy.
The 31-year-old’s stats don’t jump out at you — he’s not a leader in any of the traditional categories, very much a good supporting character — but his advanced stats are solid. His +/- per 100 possessions are over +10 this season, very much a career high, and he’s approaching career highs in win shares and VORP.
Aside from his defense, Beverley’s biggest contributions are less tangible. He’s a pest, put simply, and takes the mantle of the player who strives to get under opponents’ skin, to do the dirty work and aim to draw a flagrant or technical foul or three over the course of a game.
And for a franchise that is on the rise but hasn’t established a title-winning pedigree, Beverley’s mental toughness and commitment to the dirty work is important for the culture. Yes, coaches throw that “culture” buzzword around way too much, but looking at the traditional stats in a vacuum you probably think Beverley’s influence is inflated. It’s not — his influence has been felt in helping make the Clippers contenders for the first time. His status would likely be cemented with a ring, but so far, PatBev has played like the best No. 21 in Clippers history to date.
News for this Tuesday:
- Doc has sweet offer for #AllinChallenge: Doc Rivers is participating in a fundraiser on Fanatics’ website called the “All In Challenge,” to benefit those in need during the coronavirus shutdown and his offer up for auction — to serve as a Clippers assistant coach for a game, among various other perks — is a very sweet one. However, this one isn’t cheap, with the current bid for the prize package over $20,000. Still, you can find other prizes and ways to donate over at Fanatics.
- Zubac optimistic season will return: Ivica Zubac was interviewed by SI, and one part I thought was interesting — he said he was used to playing in empty arenas in Europe, so maybe he and other players with European experience would cope better with empty-arena NBA games? It may not make the difference in a long playoff run, but if the playoffs are relatively short, this could be a real swing factor, possibly.
- Doc, MJ broke off friendship: All things Michael Jordan are hot now with ESPN’s 30 for 30, “The Last Dance,” starting on Sunday. Rivers was interviewed about Jordan and told WKOW he had been friends with Jordan but a few altercations on the court ended their friendship “for a long time.”
- Crawford talks pickup with Jordan: Another good Jordan story, as Jamal Crawford relates the summer he was a training partner and pickup teammate for Michael Jordan, with Crawford having to watch MJ sulk over a single loss in pickup, one time. Check it out at The Athletic.
Today’s question: Your favorite moment from the opening hours of “The Last Dance”? Mine was hearing how Jordan and Pippen literally went from non-entities to elite players because they happened to grow very, very tall in a matter of months. Share your favorite part in the comments below.