The best player to wear no. 25 in Clippers history is probably Danny Manning. But Manning only wore that number during his rookie season, which was limited to 26 games after he tore his ACL. He switched to no. 5 afterwards.
That means the best player in franchise history to wear no. 25 for an extended period of time is a cult Clippers favorite: Austin Rivers.
Rivers came to Los Angeles in a trade during his third season in the league when his NBA career prospects were hanging by a thread. The New Orleans Pelicans had declined his fourth-year option, and he was on his way to being a classic lottery bust. Instead, the Clippers brought Rivers in and turned his career around.
Although there were cries of nepotism when Rivers arrived in Los Angeles because it seemed like Doc Rivers was the only coach in the league who was willing to take a chance on his son, Rivers quickly proved that he belonged in the NBA. He had an innate ability to get into the lane and score, and he combined that with above-average outside shooting. He averaged 11.1 points and 2.5 assists per game in his three seasons with the Clippers and became a capable spot-up threat, knocking down 36.1% of his 3-pointers. That marksmanship later earned him a look from Houston after his Clippers tenure was up.
Rivers had some standout playoff moments as well that endeared him to the fanbase. He capably stepped in for Chris Paul when Paul had a hamstring injury during the 2015 Western Conference semifinals, helping the Clippers win Game 1 without Paul and Game 3 when Paul played limited minutes. Rivers’ Game 3 (25 points on 10-of-13 shooting and 6 rebounds) remains the pinnacle of his postseason performances.
Rivers also gamely battled in the 2016 first round against the Blazers when Paul had to miss the last two games with a broken hand. He famously took a hit in the face in the first quarter of game 6, got 11 stitches above his left eye, and then came back to nearly help power the Clippers past Portland. If nothing else, he always put his body on the line for the team.
Austin Rivers is also the best Clipper to wear no. 25 because he chose the number to honor his father, who wore the number throughout his NBA career, including one season with the Clippers. How fitting that Austin became the first player in league history to play for his father as the head coach.
The night before he was drafted into the league, Austin said, “I want to be like my dad, only better.” The book is still being written on Austin’s career, but in terms of Clippers to wear no. 25, Austin has Doc beat.