Clippers: 3 bench players who should not be traded

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Nov 24, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Wesley Johnson (33) dribbles the ball against Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari (8) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Wesley Johnson’s 3-and-D potential is too important

Wesley Johnson shouldn’t be a player that Doc will think about moving, but it’s still worth discussing his performance so far to see exactly what he’s been doing for the Clippers. At the very least, he’s done enough off the bench and in the starting lineup to keep his spot on the roster safe.

That is, if loyalty and favoritism doesn’t get to Doc and he deals Johnson instead of Crawford or Rivers.

Johnson may not have the grit and tenacity that Matt Barnes had last season as the Clippers’ starting small forward and 3-and-D guy, but he’s been doing surprisingly well in that role so far. After not starting any of the last 10 games and receiving random amounts of playing time (similarly to most of the second unit) he’s still found a way to make a difference.

Defensively, he’s often never lived up to his potential as a 6’7″ forward with a near-40 inch vertical and wingspan over 7 feet. There have been good moments, but awareness and inconsistency has let him down. This season, though, he’s playing pretty well at that end of the floor. He’s forcing opponents to shoot 3.5 percent lower than normal when guarding them (per and the Clippers are allowing five less points to their opponents per 100 possessions with Johnson in the game.

As for his ability on offense, it’s primarily come from behind the arc. He’s shooting a career-high 38.6 percent from three and is third on the Clippers’ roster in effective field goal percentage (59.1). Which, for the record, ranks him ahead of J.J. Redick, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

While Luc Mbah a Moute is playing impressive defense and Stephenson is adding a spark to the second unit as a ball handler when he actually gets minutes, Johnson has been the most well-rounded small forward. Even if consistency is a bit of an issue and his defensive awareness isn’t always at a high level, he’s still exceeded expectations so far.

It’s hard to see that Johnson will be traded, especially as no murmurs have emerged including him in any rumors so far. Hopefully for the Clippers, nothing will happen to change that.

Next: Lance Stephenson