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2020-21 Clippers season in review: Patrick Beverley

The longest-tenured Clipper once again proved the best ability is availability.

2021 NBA Playoffs - LA Clippers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to our annual Clippers season in review series. Every day until the end of July, we’ll be taking a look back at the players who ended the season with the Clippers (apologies to Malik Fitts and Mfiondu Kabengele). Today, we continue with Patrick Beverley.

Key information:

Name: Patrick Beverley

Age: 33

Years in the NBA: 9

Key stats: Beverley played 37 games during the regular season, averaging 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 22.5 minutes per game. He shot 46.8 percent on twos and 39.7 percent on threes, which made up about two-thirds of his shot attempts.

Future contract status: Beverley has one year left on the three-year, $40 million deal he signed in the summer of 2019. He is due $14.3 million this season and is eligible for an extension until the end of the year.

Summary:

Beverley began the season as the Clippers’ starting point guard for the fourth consecutive year. He was a point guard in name only on offense, as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George handled the majority of the playmaking duties for the Clippers, though Beverley was a defensive lead guard as he was responsible for defending at the point of attack.

That changed during the postseason as Beverley proved nearly unplayable against Luka Dončić in the first round of the playoffs and fell out of the rotation altogether by the end of the series. He became a critical part of the lineup again against Utah and Phoenix and was having a pretty good series against the Suns until his ignominious exit in the final game.

Individually, Beverley was about as good as he has been throughout his career. The major problem was his availability, as he missed half of the regular season, which prompted the Clippers to trade for Rajon Rondo as Beverley insurance. That deal didn’t quite work out for L.A., and now the team is down two second-round picks as a result.

Strengths:

Beverley is a much better 3-point shooter than he has ever been given credit for, despite a career mark of 37.5 percent from distance. He hit nearly 40 percent of this threes in 2020-21 to provide reliable spacing around the Clippers stars. He was especially lethal from the corners, where he knocked down 49 percent of his attempts.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz v LA Clippers
Beverley wasn’t an outright sniper like some of his Clippers teammates, but he was an elite 3-point shooter this season.
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

When defenses do decide to close out on Beverley, he’s good at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket in a straight-line drive. Beverley doesn’t get all the way to the rim anymore, but he has developed a good floater.

But the real draw of Beverley was his defense. Mr. 94 Feet can still pick up full court, and he stays attached. He fights through screens better than just about any guard in the NBA, closing pockets of space before they even open. Beverley provides back pressure when it seems like he’s out of the play and had a block rate of 1.7 percent, his highest since his rookie season and good for 91st percentile among combo guards.

To put it plainly, he makes life difficult for opposing guards. Some of that comes from his extracurricular antics, but it’s mostly because he’s always working on defense, which forces the offensive player to do the same.

Weaknesses:

Beverley is a limited ball handler because he can’t really create for his teammates. The majority of his passing is either swinging the ball around the perimeter or kicking back out after a drive. The Clippers don’t need another lead creator on offense, but they need someone who defenses will respect more than Beverley. He can’t bend a defense at all because there are only a few options for him on any possession. That’s why Ty Lue elected to start Reggie Jackson when the team’s offense was fluttering — Jackson pressures a defense because he can generate his own shot and set up his teammates. Beverley is only really a spot-up threat. That’s fine for a bench guard, but not a starter on a team hoping to go deep into the postseason.

On defense, Beverley gets into foul trouble too much. He had the highest foul rate among combo guards this season. Availability is already a concern with Beverley given his health, and his foul trouble compounds that issue.

Future with the Clippers:

The Clippers have turned over their roster quite a bit since the end of Lob City. The only player remaining from the start of the 2017 season is Beverley. He predates every other Clipper by at least a year and a half.

That longevity could be considered an advantage, but with previous Clippers, it has been a source of tension if another player has had a longer tenure on the team than Leonard or George. The front office has been deliberate about creating a culture shift starting with those two.

The Clippers needed Beverley in the postseason, especially once Leonard went down, and that will be the case for a large chunk of the upcoming regular season. However, the team might be comfortable giving more of those minutes to Luke Kennard and other young players as they grow into their roles. It certainly wouldn’t hurt the team’s books to clear some salary, and as an expiring deal, Beverley’s contract would be pretty useful in a trade.

With the departures of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, it almost feels like Beverley is living on borrowed time with the Clippers. He’s the last vestige of a young, scrappy team that no longer exists. His current level of play helps the Clippers, but he hasn’t made himself indispensable, especially if Reggie Jackson returns.