Now that the Clippers’ 2020 season has reached its disappointing end, 213Hoops will work through the roster player-by-player for our “Exit Interview” series. Today’s exit interview features two-way reserve Amir Coffey.
Weight: 210 pounds
Years in NBA: Rookie
NBA Stats: 3.2 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.3 steals in 8.8 minutes per game across 18 games on 42.6/31.6/54.5 shooting splits.
G-League Stats: 14.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.1 steals in 27.3 minutes per game across 16 games on 48/40/71.9 shooting splits.
Contract Status: Signed to a two-way contract last year, presumably with another year on a two-way deal for the 2020-2021 season.
No player on the roster probably had lower expectations than Amir Coffey, a rookie and two-way player on a championship contender. Not only that, but his position at wing/guard placed him behind not just the Clippers’ superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but rising second-year guard Landry Shamet, veteran Rodney McGruder, and second-round rookie Terance Mann. Therefore, the expectation for Coffey was that he’d spend the vast majority of the season in the G-League, getting called up only when the Clippers were extremely short-handed and needed the bench depth.
The expectations mostly met reality, though Coffey probably played a bit more than most people would have predicted. He not only played more than fellow two-way player Johnathan Motley, but also than 1st round rookie Mfiondu Kabengele, which is certainly unusual. Doc Rivers liked his energy and athleticism, and would give him occasional end-of-quarter appearances for defensive purposes. He also got a couple cracks at real minutes when the Clippers were particularly beaten up, and showed out pretty well in such instances.
Notably, Coffey was brought to the bubble in Orlando over Kabengele and Motley, showcasing the Clippers’ trust in him. He mostly played sparingly, with the notable exception being the final “regular season” game against the Thunder, when the Clippers sat most of their roster. In that contest, Coffey played nearly 50 minutes (close to 33% of his entire season’s worth of NBA playing time), and put up a pretty impressive statline of 21 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Even though it was essentially a full game of garbage time, Coffey’s slashing ability and scoring in transition was impressive. Coffey only played a handful of garbage-time minutes in the playoffs, but overall, his season can’t be seen as anything other than a win.
Future with Clippers
There’s no reason to think Coffey won’t stick around with the Clippers for the next couple of years. He’s on an extremely cheap two-way deal, and has shown enough promise as a scorer and defender to be worth that contract at the very least. While he’s certainly not on the level of Shamet, Ivica Zubac, or even Mann as a prospect, the Clippers need to keep as much young, cost-controlled talent on the roster as possible. This is true if Kawhi and George stick around and eat up most of the Clippers’ space with their max deals, or if they leave and the Clippers enter a forced rebuild without virtually any draft picks in the near future.
In terms of Coffey’s future, his NBA career will likely come down to his outside shooting. An inconsistent (at best) three-point shooter in college, Coffey shot 40% from deep in the G-League on 75 total attempts. Not a great sample size, but something. If he’s able to become a decent NBA three-point shooter, he could have a nice career as a 3 and D wing with some handling and creation chops. If the shot never pans out, he will probably be more of a deep reserve utilized mostly to bring a jolt of energy and some athleticism.