Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker ready to take on defensive challenges with Clippers
LOS ANGELES – For years the L.A. Clippers lacked the very thing the rest of the league progressed towards: long and versatile two-way players who could create problems for opponents on offense and defense. Trading one of the best point guards in Chris Paul opened up an opportunity for the team to retool multiple positions, acquiring Patrick Beverley and Sam Dekker in the trade as well as Danilo Gallinari in free agency (via sign-and-trade from the Denver Nuggets).
Despite adding the two forwards, the Clippers did end up losing the defensive-minded Luc Mbah a Moute, who would step up to the plate and defend the opposing team’s best player. Without Mbah a Moute, the Clippers will certainly need a wing player to take the challenge of guarding the opposition’s best player while also being able to put the ball in the basket on offense. During the Clippers’ introductory press conference, Dekker let it be known that he feels like his versatility allows him to be that guy.
I like playing against the best players in the league,” said Dekker when discussing the challenge on defense. “I like stepping up in those big moments. Last year, Trevor [Ariza] would be on the best player, he’d come out, and then it was my turn. And that was fun for me. It brings you up to the challenge.
I like being traded with guys like Montrezl [Harrell] and Pat and Lou [Williams], those were some of our best lineups last year when we went to our scrappy guys, the guys that get stops and get out and run and share the ball. It’s a fun group to be here with. I think Clippers fans will like what we bring. we bring an edge, we like to say ‘we have some dog in us.'”
While Dekker’s defense has yet to make noise in his first two years in the league, Patrick Beverley is known for and will be counted on for his defense. Of the five-man lineups that played at least 17 games and 40 minutes together for the Rockets last season, the top two in defensive rating included both Beverley and Dekker, indicating that a potential lineup with the rim-protecting DeAndre Jordan could be deadly defensively. The dog that both players bring will certainly be a welcome sight for Clippers fans.
“My role with the Rockets was to be one of the top defenders,” said Beverley. “Of course, it’s not easy when you’re facing so many different types of guards and get so many different basketball schemes. I watch a lot of film, I do my homework a lot, and I just go out there and try to give them hell.
“I try to be a pest, I try to be annoying. I try to do everything within the lines to be creative enough to be one of the best defensive players in the league.”
Beverley adds, however, that the offense he brings to the table shouldn’t be overlooked. A 40-percent shooter from beyond that arc in 2016 and a 38-percent shooter last year, Beverley’s ability to catch and shoot will be a great addition to a Clippers squad boasting two players who will attract the most attention in Gallinari and Blake Griffin. Beverley shot a hair under 40-percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers last year when the Rockets unleashed James Harden as a full-time facilitator. When asked if people look past his offense because they consider him a defensive player, Beverley was in full agreement.
“Of course. It’s… It’s overlooked because of the players that were around me,” explained Beverley in regards to former teammates and three-point snipers Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Lou Williams, and Trevor Ariza.
“I lay my hat on defense. That’s what got me into this game. You don’t ever forget what got you into the door, and defense got me in. I’m still fortunate to be able to display some of my offensive opportunities this year. I’m excited about that.”
Under Mike D’Antoni, Beverley saw his rebounding and assists numbers increase, but was mainly relegated to a catch-and-shoot role whenever Harden had the ball in his hands (which was often). With the Clippers, Beverley will be able to let loose a bit with more freedom to create offense for himself as well as his teammates.
“We’ve been big fans of Pat for a long time,” said Frank. “He’s an instigator and an agitator, but sometimes what gets lost is that he’s extremely talented. It seems like every time the bar is raised, he meets it. Size is irrelevant. You look at the rebounds and assists and his size. He shoots a high percentage from 3. He’s first-team all defense, but we think there’s a complete game with it.”
The comparisons to Chris Paul have already begun, but Beverley has made it known he isn’t Chris Paul and doesn’t expect to replicate his impact on the game. What he does expect to do is bring the energy and effort that has made him a well-respected member of the All-Defensive first team.