Clippers’ Doc Rivers plans on using Paul Pierce at power forward


Apr 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) keeps the ball away from Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Washington defeated Toronto 93-86. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers’ signing of Paul Pierce instantly gives them a wily veteran with great experience, leadership and the ability to make shots when a game is on the line. However, the real way in which head coach Doc Rivers intends to use Pierce has been somewhat unclear until now. He brings the versatility to play multiple positions — from shooting guard to power forward if necessary — but with the Clippers’ plethora of new talent, Pierce can be used in more ways than one.

Lance Stephenson is the new sixth man who’ll take the majority of the second unit backcourt minutes, Wesley Johnson is a bottom of the rotation forward, Josh Smith is the primary backup big man (almost exclusively at power forward), whilst Paul Pierce is most likely going to start at small forward. Even if he does get the starting role, though, his minutes are still going to be limited. He’s just too valuable in the playoffs to not be used carefully during the regular season.

So whilst Doc may still be unsure on how to fully utilize Pierece, but he has now addressed the issue. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe has reported the coach’s following comments:

"“Paul will be great. I don’t want to overuse him, I know that. I don’t even know how we’re going to use him yet. I’m going to play him at [power forward] a lot, but what I want him to be is healthy in the playoffs. So however we can figure that out, that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m really looking forward to it.”"

Now that he’s armed with so much new depth and versatility, we’ll have to wait and see how Doc tries different lineups. With guys like Stephenson, Pierce, Johnson and Smith, who can all play multiple positions, the Clippers have far more potential to use different combinations of players or use a small-ball lineup than they did a year ago.

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Pierce may have only spent 6 percent of his playing time at power forward last season with the Washington Wizards, but he still has the capability to do so. He impressed at times when stretching to the four and plays with a certain aggression with his 6’7″, 235 lbs frame, allowing him to match up against smaller power forwards away from the basket. With just about enough quickness and his 38.9 percent three point stroke from last season, Pierce can easily trouble opposing fours near the perimeter.

With both Josh Smith and The Truth to backup Blake Griffin now, there are numerous possibilities for Doc to experiment with. They’ll trouble defenders and give Griffin some additional rest that will go a long way towards keeping him in top condition for the playoffs.

Across their roster, the versatility that the Clippers have with Pierce and their other new additions just made their team a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.

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