Well, this probably isn’t going to be pretty. Following a historic 51-point beatdown in Clippers vs Mavericks, let’s look at the player grades for the embarrassed hosts.
Clippers Starter Grades
Patrick Beverley: F. Pat presided over the Clippers’ horrific opening stint and then showed the same fatal flaw as always by exiting the starting unit’s respectable 3rd quarter early with 4 personal fouls. Any time that Pat posts 2 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnover, and 4 fouls in 22 minutes, he’s getting an F. The context of him being a part of the team’s historically miserable first half can’t even hurt him at that point.
Luke Kennard: F. I’ve said that I’m going to give Luke several weeks to round into form after missing a year of action, and I mean it–I’m not going to factor this game into my overall evaluation of him. But as an isolated performance that must be graded, there’s nowhere to go but F. He missed a bunch of wide-open looks and couldn’t get anything positive going as a playmaker, failing not only to be an adequate spot starter but also to build rhythm during garbage time.
Paul George: F. George was the only Clipper who could buy a bucket in the early going, but he was still really bad. He finished 0-6 from three with 4 turnovers, taking my warning that his shooting regression was coming after a hot start to the season to extreme lengths. But he was forcing things early with Kawhi out and was the main culprit of unforced turnovers that dug the first fifth of LA’s 50-point hole. He gets credit for coming out and stringing together a few good reps to start the third, but sometimes turning in an extra credit assignment at the last minute just moves you from a 40% F to a 45% F.
Nicolas Batum: D-. Batum was, I think, himself against Dallas and continued his “I’m not washed” campaign even though he failed to really make a positive impact during Dallas’ early onslaught. I’m not giving anyone who was part of that first half a halfway-decent grade but considering his acceptable individual play and the low expectation level for a minimum-salary player pressed into starter duties, he deserves not to fail.
Serge Ibaka: D-. If PG was the student who turns in an extra credit assignment when their semester is already beyond saving, Serge was the student who never shows up to class and fails the midterm… but lets that serve as enough of a wake-up call to eke out a passing grade. His overall line (13 points, 6-11 shooting, 9 rebounds in 20 minutes) deserves better than a D-, but considering most of his production came with the team already a half a century back–a deficit which he contributed to–I’m not feeling too generous.
Clippers Bench Player Grades
Note: I list these guys in order of minutes played, from most to least, which is a little wonky on a night with 42 minutes of garbage time.
Terance Mann: F. For all the talk about Terance being a preferable option to Reggie Jackson due to decision-making, he seems to just make different kinds of simple mistakes. From being unaware of the clock to making poor gambles defensively, he’s struggled in the early going this season. You can’t entirely blame a depth sophomore for not turning around a blowout when he checks in, but the Jackson-Mann second unit not only failed to bring energy or spark a comeback but actually exacerbated the issues and did even worse than the first unit.
Reggie Jackson: F. I would say, of all the F grades received in this post, Jackson came the closest to flirting with a D-. His final line (8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 3-6 FG, 2-5 3PT) actually resembles something solid-looking, and there was a moment in the third when he had two consecutive patient offensive possessions result in making a good look from deep and finding Zubac underneath for an easy bucket. But in the moments that mattered, in the late 1st and early 2nd when the game was actually still in play, Jackson’s abysmal defense was a huge part of keeping the Clippers down. He was picked on relentlessly during a stretch where the Mavericks scored nearly every time down the floor. It’s not his fault the Clippers went down 25 but he played a big part in that 25 becoming 50.
Amir Coffey: D. Amir avoids an F, but on my scale it’s almost impossible for him to get one, short of doing something like forgetting his jersey at home and being unable to check in in garbage time. Since the team hasn’t even given him a spot on the 15-man roster, the only real job that Amir has is to sponge up minutes in ugly games like this (though you’d hope to be on the winning side of them) so that others can avoid fatigue and injuries. With 18 straight minutes to close the game, he did that. With 0-5 shooting, he didn’t do much to prove he’s worthy of a more prominent depth role or better grade than a D.
Ivica Zubac: F. Zu got an early call halfway through the first quarter and did very little to stabilize the team. He can’t be blamed for the early double-digit deficit and it’s not entirely his fault that the game got out of hand–but he certainly was one of the team’s most glaring negatives. In particular, he got absolutely punked by Mavs backup Willie Cayley-Stein, who grabbed multiple offensive rebounds right over Zu. For a player who has been mostly solid and consistent as a Clipper, this might be the worst two-game spell of his career.
Mfiondu Kabengele: D. Sophomore first-round picks should be viable depth options, even if they aren’t proven rotation players yet. After being passed over by undersized veteran power forward Patrick Patterson for emergency center minutes on Friday, Fi got a chance for extended run tonight to show what he can do (hopefully bring an infusion of energy off the bench)… and was mostly a non-factor in 15 minutes. He wasn’t quite as bad as Coffey, but expectations should be a notch higher here than for a second-year undrafted player on a two-way contract.
Daniel Oturu: C. Oturu didn’t do anything special, but he had to go against Boban Marjanovic for almost his entire run of minutes and anything short of getting eaten alive against Boban is solid for a 6’10” second round rookie. He also had his first NBA bucket today, a dunk against a flopping Willie Cauley-Stein, so congratulations to him on that milestone. Mostly his grade here is benefiting from extremely low expectations and no minutes before garbage time–I tried to imagine what I’d give him if the Clippers were up by 50 when he checked in instead of down the same amount, and for a third stringer to come in and be more or less average against other third stringers and finish -4 in 12 minutes of garbage time is acceptable.
Lou Williams: F. Lou was spared from participating in the second half after Ty Lue went straight from his starters to his young depth players in the third quarter, but he absolutely contributed to the disaster in his 9 first-half minutes. I opined before the game that with Kawhi Leonard out, the Clippers would need a little more volume from Lou after two quiet but efficient games to start the year–instead he was 0-4 and sluggish, joining Jackson in being targeted defensively by the Mavericks’ second unit. The Clippers were already down 16-5 when Lou subbed in after 6 minutes, so it’s not like this loss is on his shoulders more than anyone else’s… but losing the next 9 minutes by 24 with him on the floor essentially slammed the door on this game being respectable.
Patrick Patterson: F. Like Lou, Patterson got to take the second half off, so we’re just judging him on 9 first half minutes. PatPat wasn’t in for the bad start (they were already down 25-6 when he subbed in), but like Lou, he oversaw the game going from a first quarter disaster to a first-half disaster as his stint on the floor bridged the first two quarters and saw the team’s deficit grow by 26 points. It would be hard for his grade to overcome that disaster even if he had played well individually, which of course he didn’t: 1 rebound, a missed 3, and no other entries in the box score.
Players Without Grades
Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, and Jay Scrubb were all out with various injuries tonight. Leonard was questionable heading into this game after getting 8 stitches for a cut in his mouth during the fourth quarter of Friday’s game. His return should be imminent, but don’t be surprised if he misses the front end of this week’s Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back against Minnesota and Portland. Morris, who has missed the entire pre-season and season with a mysterious “knee soreness,” seems to be without a concrete timeline while Scrubb is still months away after foot surgery in training camp.
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