The Clippers transformed their team with last summer’s trade of Chris Paul, but they barely got to enjoy the benefits of one of the key pieces of that deal. Patrick Beverley played just 11 games before microfracture knee surgery ended his season. Now recovered, the 30-year-old guard feels like he has a lot to prove, according to James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders.
“I’m really ready. I like to go out there, put my game on the line and that’s more than just talking,” Beverley said. “I’m feeling really, really strong, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life and we’re going to see soon.”
He isn’t a lock to make the team, though, if his health remains an issue. His $5M salary won’t become fully guaranteed until January 10, the leaguewide date to guarantee salaries.
Beverley was a defensive catalyst for five seasons in Houston before the Rockets included him as part of the package to acquire Paul. Beverley plans to bring that same energy to L.A., saying he wants to create a “Clamp City” identity in place of the former Lob City. The Clippers ranked 19th last season with a defensive rating of 107.7 and lost shot-blocking center DeAndre Jordan in free agency.
Beverley and Avery Bradley, who was acquired at midseason, could be an imposing defensive tandem in the backcourt. They will also serve as mentors to first-round pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, whose wingspan makes him a potentially dangerous defender.
The Clippers were hampered by injuries last season as Beverley was among several players who missed significant time. They got only 21 games from Danilo Gallinari, 45 from Milos Teodosic and 61 from Austin Rivers, who has since been traded to the Wizards. Blake Griffin played in 33 games before being dealt to the Pistons in late January.
“If you look at this team, our backcourt is loaded. It is loaded,” said Jerry West, who serves on the team’s executive board, per Blancarte. “I feel a hundred percent sure last year, if we didn’t have all the injuries we had, would have made the playoffs.”