LA Clippers in review: Does Bones Hyland have a future in LA?

Bones Hyland, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Bones Hyland, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Shifty, plucky, boiling with passion — these are how some characterize the LA Clippers’ young guard, Bones Hyland. Others describe the slender six-foot-three juggernaut as reckless and flippant.

And they’re not entirely wrong (remember his heated altercation with Mason Plumlee?).

In the Clippers’ first-round series against the Phoenix Suns in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, Hyland wasn’t the most reliable bench-scoring option. The youngster struggled to find his rhythm from beyond the arc, knocking down just 25 percent of his looks.

In the times that he looked to attack the rim, things didn’t look much better.

On many occasions, Hyland attempted to outspeed and outskill his primary defender, Chris Paul.

This didn’t end the way Hyland expected, however. Paul was too smart, too experienced, too great: the Suns’ floor general knew exactly when to contest Hyland’s shots and how to force him left. So, despite continued efforts, the emotional and overzealous sophomore failed to capitalize in iso situations against the former Clipper.

Even when guarded by other defenders, Hyland couldn’t quite live up to his expectations.

More often than not, he was racking up bad shots from long range; inside the paint, he continued to force up tough shots instead of opting to find open teammates in the perimeter. All in all, the Wilmington, Del. native was too hot-headed and over venturesome with the ball in his hands.

And the stat sheets can attest to this: in over 16 minutes per game in the playoffs, the 22-year-old shot an abysmal 34.1 percent from the field, while logging 8.6 points and less than one assist and rebound.

On the defensive end, Hyland definitely showed passion that, more often than not, was uncontrolled. The second-year NBA guard was the main culprit behind the team’s meaningless fouls and reckless defensive efforts that sent the Suns to the line — in game 3, Hyland recorded four personal fouls in just 21 minutes of play.

That isn’t to say there is nothing Hyland can offer to the Clippers.

Though he may have weaknesses, Bones Hyland has shown many similarities to a Clipper legend.

Admittedly, Bones Hyland, the LA Clippers’ newest stealthy scorer has tremendous upside. Much similar to Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams, former Clippers that share a similar physique and fearless mentality with him, Hyland is a natural scorer. A valiant and talented one, too.

Shooting nearly 37 percent from deep in his two-year NBA career, Hyland is a capable shooter. When open, he can be a dead-eye catch-and-shoot guard from long range. More impressive, the youngster doesn’t hesitate to use his dribble and footwork to create chances for himself.

One of the craftier and shiftiest players in the league, Hyland plays if he has the basketball on a string. With a couple of eye-catching dribble combinations, he can easily freeze and blow by defenders. And thanks to his athleticism and noticeable toughness, the 22-year-old has plenty of ways to finish at the rim.

In these ways, his potential is undeniable. Enough for the Clippers to overlook his struggles in the playoffs. Enough for the Clippers to continue investing in what could be a young complement to the aging core of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

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Best case scenario, Hyland could very much be the next coming of a fan-favorite off-the-bench killer in Lou Williams.