While Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have become the face of the LA Clippers, a clear leader has emerged — Patrick Beverley.
After the buzzer sounds to end the first quarter in a game where the LA Clippers host the Memphis Grizzlies, forward Kyle Anderson grabs the ball to get a rhythm shot up. This kind of shot happens all the time in the NBA. It doesn’t count for anything, but shooters like to get reps in when they can. Patrick Beverley comes off the bench — in a blazer, no less — and blocks the shot.
That’s just the kind of player he is. No easy buckets, even if he’s sitting out with an injury.
After a summer during which the Clippers acquired two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, there’s no question as to whose faces will be on the billboards. Most assumed Leonard, unquestionably the best player on the roster, would be the leader of the team as well. But he has a luxury most other superstars don’t — he plays with a very vocal, all-heart, this-amp-goes-to-eleven bulldog in Beverley.
Pat won’t jump off the stat sheet after a game. His season averages this year are 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. But he shows up where it counts, as he’s only had six games so far this season with a negative plus/minus rating. When he’s on the floor the offensive rebounding for the Clippers is in the 90th percentile per Cleaning the Glass. A six-foot, one-inch guard having that kind of impact on the boards is beyond impressive.
This article isn’t about stats though. You can’t find leadership in the numbers or in box scores. You have to watch to find the leader in the room. When Pat is on the floor, he’s usually the most vocal guy on defense. He tends to set the tone for the rest of the team, a great quality in a leader, and never takes a possession off or quits (see last April’s 31-point postseason comeback against the Golden State Warriors).
In fact, over the last two seasons, the Clippers have only won 28 percent of the games they’ve played without the starting point guard.
After Sunday’s win against the Knicks, Doc Rivers had a ton of praise for Pat. Rivers even talked about Beverley evolving into a more pure point guard, something he has never been considered in his seven years in the league.
It appears that he is working on being more vocal on the offensive end, which rounds out his game even more. Being able to assess not only a need of the team but a development of your own game is everything a leader should do.
In the same post-game interview, Rivers revealed the amount of trust he has in Beverley and his ability to comprehend the nitty-gritty of the game, going as far as giving him a playsheet before every game. The only other players Rivers has ever trusted with that are Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul.
After the frustrating games, Beverley is critical (but never of any individual) and still puts a positive spin on it. He tweets praises and acknowledgements to his teammates. He can usually be seen before and after games joking with his teammates and building morale. During the games, even when he’s not on the floor, he’s on the sideline calling out plays and schemes, and coaching players (sometimes not even on his team) on how to handle other dominant stars in the league.
Patrick Beverley is the quintessential “hate him unless he’s on your team” player. Luckily for the LA Clippers, he’s on theirs. The 31-year-old product of Chicago has always shown a passion for advancing his game. In his eighth year in the league, he appears to be growing into a leader that can command the respect of a team contending for a championship.