Before the 2019-20 NBA season kicked off, many analysts predicted the Los Angeles Clippers had the makings to bring home their first NBA Championship. With the addition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, how could that not become a reality? To have two of the best at their respective positions on the same team easily increased their chances. However, we're learning that it takes more than two skilled players to do the job.
What has failed the Clippers this early in the season is not just the injuries and load management but their lack of a true point guard. While Patrick Beverley has the floor experience to help, he's not the long-term answer.
The PG position today is not what it used to be when teams like the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics were running their dynasties. Nowadays, it's what PG can score the most points while handing out less than a handful of assists.
Beverley, even with the array of weapons at his disposal is averaging just 2.8 assists per game. For some, that's not a red flag as Lou Williams, Leonard, and George will do a majority of the ball-handling for the Clippers. That's a good substitute, but how long can Doc Rivers continue to ask this of his star players?
The Los Angeles Lakers are doing the same with LeBron James but in their defense, Rajon Rondo has been injured most of the season. According to NBA Stats, the Clippers are 10th in points scored and a huge part of that is due to their bench averaging close to 40 points per game. At some point, Beverley will need to be productive.
The downside of Leonard and George taking the ball upcourt or setting up the halfcourt offense is that it often leaves them on an island. If Leonard has the ball at the top of the key, his only true option for offense will be George. Once that entry pass leaves his hands, Leonard has to hope to see the ball again or attack the rim looking for an offensive rebound.
Then we take into account that the starting five for the Clippers have only played less than a handful of games as a unit. They have not had time to gel. This is why having a real PG is so essential to their success. Can Beverley be that guy? Maybe, but Rivers will need to let him be that guy. A staggering fact for the Clippers offense is, the team has dunked the ball 17 times this season and only to of those are off alley-oops. This used to be the norm for Rives with Chris Paul at the point of attack.
Beverley averages 30.2 minutes per game. But once again, those numbers are a bit misleading considering the injuries and load management concerns for the Los Angeles Clippers. Even with my concerns, things could still turn around for the Clippers and their PG situation. Beverley is a veteran and has played on winning teams with some of the league's best players. It will be easy for him to adapt.
In his first game on the floor with both Leonard and George, Beverley scored 14 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and dished out seven assists. It was the start of something special, right? Well, in the next contest against the Houston Rockets and Russell Westbrook, Beverley scored just six points, grabbed three rebounds, and handed out zero assists. This is what the Clippers must get away from. It's the inconsistency that follows Beverley.
Are there options? Yes, there is but the defense that Patrick Beverley brings to the team is one of the best in the NBA. However, can Doc Rivers trust his PG in crunch time? Even with Beverley on the floor with Lou Williams, George, and Leonard, how much of the offense does he get to dictate?
The Los Angeles Clippers will win games. That's a fact for sure. But in order to win a championship, Beverley must be more than what he is now.