Analyzing Pablo Prigioni’s impact on the Los Angeles Clippers


The Los Angeles Clippers have needed a reserve point guard since Darren Collison left to sign with the Sacramento Kings last summer. Although Pablo Prigioni will not be Chris Paul‘s main back up, he is the type of pass-first point guard the team has been searching for.

First of all, any expectations surrounding Prigioni should be tempered. The Argentinian turned 38 in May and his minutes should be managed closely.

Last season, Prigioni played 18.5 minutes per game for a New York Knicks franchise that needed all the help it could get. After being acquired by the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline, he played only 16.8 minutes.

Rivers will not need to rely on the veteran point guard, mainly because the team already has Austin Rivers, Lance Stephenson and Jamal Crawford who can handle the ball off the bench. This will likely result in Prigioni being cast as the team’s third point guard, and someone Rivers can turn to when the bench offense becomes stagnant and lacks ball movement.


Prigioni’s primary strength is his ability to increase ball movement. He does a good job of keeping continuity within the offese and making sure his team enters into their sets early in the possession.

Due to his willingness to make the extra pass and lay the table for his teammates, Prigioni averaged 19.5 points created by an assist per 48 minutes last season with the Rockets, according to That is the exact same mark as Damian Lillard and more than players such as Goran Dragic, Derrick Rose and Mike Conley.

Obviously, Prigioni will never have the same type of impact as those four players, but the per minute stats speak for themselves. He excels at putting the other four players on the court in position to score and assisting on those opportunities.

Additionally, his ball handling and decision making are good. This allows him to limit turnovers and is the main reason why he boats a 2.76 assist-to-turnover ratio, per

Defensively, the pesky guard has a knack for jumping passing lanes and pressuring the ball.

According to Basketball-Reference, Prigioni finished fourth in steal percentage (3.4) among all players who played at least 15 minutes per game. He still has enough savvy to make ball handlers uncomfortable, but more importantly, the instincts to anticipate passing lanes.

The video above might bring back nightmares, but it is also what you can expect from the veteran guard when he is playing at his best.

He can pressure the ball after makes, swipe at lazy dribbles or passes and chase dribble his defender away from the primary action in sets in order to dish an assist.


A minute restriction is going to be an important part of keeping Prigioni healthy. How many minutes can his legs can withstand? If the Clippers need him to play 15 minutes per game for an extended stretch this season, will his body be able to handle it without breaking down?

That might seem like a pessimistic outlook, but if Stephenson and Rivers do not deliver as expected and Crawford is dealt at some point, Doc Rivers might have no choice but to turn to the Argentinian off the bench.

Next, while he has proven a capable shooter from three (39.8 percent for his career), Prigioni only averages 2.1 attempts per game. Teams will have to respect his shot, but he also has to be coaxed into shooting at times. The Clippers lack spacing from its reserves and he will need to shoot when open to help keep the floor spread.

Lastly, while he does a good job of jumping passing lanes and pressuring the ball, that does not make him a good defender.

May 8, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) shoots a three point basket against Houston Rockets guard Pablo Prigioni (9) during the second half in game three of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

He lacks the lateral quickness and overall defensive ability to prevent ball handlers from driving into the paint. Furthermore, he also did little to impact opponents’ shooting percentages.

Prigioni allowed his counterparts to shoot 47.5 percent from the field, which was 4.5 percent above average. Even worse, 62.7 percent of the shots Prigioni gave up were from 15 feet and out, and opponents shot 41.9 percent (plus-5.5 percent).

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Overall, Doc Rivers was able to fill a need with a minimum contract, and landed about as good a third point guard as possible.

Prigioni will keep continuity, create turnovers and should have no problem serving as the team’s emergency point guard. His minutes will be restricted and he likely will only play every few games. Additionally, defending opposing point guards could be a problem and his willingness to shoot must increase.

Still, this was a signing the team needed to make. It is not incomprehensible that Rivers and Stephenson fail to live up to expectations as primary creators off the bench. Should that happen, the team now has a reliable veteran to run the offense.

Next: If Jamal Crawford leaves, will the Clippers suffer?