The Clippers steamrolled their visitors from Minnesota last night, setting a season high for three pointers made in a game as they continue to be the best shooting team in NBA history. Sure enough, such a victory is accompanied by some good marks in our Clippers and Wolves player grades. Let’s get started!
Clippers Starter Grades
Reggie Jackson: A-. There’s gonna be a trent here among the core rotation guys, who mostly all had really effective low-volume performances as they hit threes every time they got a look up. For Reggie to have 13 points on 4-9 shooting, 4 assists to 0 turnovers, and a +32 in his 21 minutes can’t possibly be lower than an A-, but it also wasn’t in his most impressive class of A-worthy performances.
Paul George: A-. Paul was probably the star of the show tonight, as has been the case for a little while now. He was the only Clipper to break 20 points with 23 on 9-17 shooting, and he added 7 rebounds and 5 assists (with 3 turnovers) on the night. Can’t knock anything about this performance but we won’t hold this among his very best games either.
Kawhi Leonard: A-. I’m almost tempted to have Kawhi be the guy who breaks through and earns an A, since he flirted with a triple-double in just 23 (!) minutes. Perhaps if he had stayed in, he would have gotten the additional 2 assists required to reach that threshold. However, he was rough in his first shift tonight and while that can be forgiven as he was rusty, it ended up being a large portion of his minutes on the night. A- it is.
Marcus Morris: A-. On a night where the Clippers set their season high in three point shots made, it makes sense that the team’s most prolific spot-up specialist would lead the way with 5 of his own. Marcus is now 2nd in the NBA in three-point shooting at 48.1%, and he even pitched in 6 rebounds as the Clippers demolished the Wolves on the glass, 48-37.
Ivica Zubac: A-. Actually, if one Clipper from the starting unit deserves an A for this game, it might be Zu. I’m leaving him down at A- because he would up in foul trouble again playing against Karl-Anthony Towns, but I have a bit of a bone to pick with the rest of the team here. Zu and KAT both picked up their third fouls midway through the second quarter. Ty Lue, trying to preserve his young center for later in the game, pulled Zu from the game. Chris Finch, recognizing the perilous position that the Wolves were already in, kept Towns in the lineup. Zu deserves some credit for his physicality dominating the interior early and contributing to Towns’ foul trouble, and it was a bit disappointing to see the other Clippers not be more aggressive in forcing Towns into compromising situations in foul trouble. In the 16 minutes that the two were matched up, Towns was 4-11 and did not grab a single rebound, while Zu was 4-5 and had 4. The Clippers won those minutes by 27 in a game they won by 19 overall.
Clippers Bench Player Grades
Terance Mann: C+. I love that Terance continues to take threes with confidence when defenders sag off of him, and it helps on that front that he’s been red-hot from deep. He’s now up to 42.9% on the season (46.3% from the corners) on 3.3 attempts per 100 possessions, and he’s hit 47.2% since the All-Star Break. Obviously you’d like to see those attempt numbers higher, but it feels like he’s been taking them far more willingly. But he was 0-4 on two-point shots this game and didn’t get to his strengths going downhill and finishing around the basket nearly enough, especially given leash to protect the lead in garbage time.
Luke Kennard: B. Luke was a little better offensively than Terance in this one, and while the team did lose his minutes I have a hard time blaming the downfall of a Kennard – Coffey – Fitts – Oturu – Cousins lineup on Kennard… that’s just not a very good group. The most important thing for Luke is to maintain his confidence as his role is inconsistent in upcoming weeks, and to come into games determined to make an impact with his shot-making. That way if (when?) he’s called upon in a pinch in the playoffs, he can make a positive impact despite not getting many minutes.
Patrick Patterson: B. PatPat didn’t have a ton to do in his 17 minutes tonight, but he did his job.
DeMarcus Cousins: C+. Good: he hit a cutting Daniel Oturu several times to help the rookie get a few easy buckets in garbage time. Bad: the mobility just isn’t there for him to be able to finish reliably in traffic, which aligns with the much larger sample size of meaningful minutes in Houston earlier this season.
Rajon Rondo: B. Opened up the offense with a few brilliant passes, stalled a few possessions because he didn’t want to shoot. Ultimately, like PatPat, the Clippers just didn’t need very much from Rajon tonight and so he had a ho-hum game, did his job, and got to play assistant coach to the younger guys down the stretch.
Amir Coffey: C. Look, if Amir somehow coming up big every time the Clippers need him for a meaningful shift is the trade-off for him laying an egg when he just has to come in and hold a lead, I’ll take it. But to do nothing in 12 minutes of garbage time as the third string got crushed by 19 points is pretty bad.
Daniel Oturu: B+. Some actual cutting and finishing around the basket! Oturu had 7 of the team’s 20 fourth-quarter points, which isn’t going to force him into the rotation any time soon but feels worth a little happiness as it’s the most good we’ve seen him do in his limited time this year.
Malik Fitts: A. Okay, he wasn’t spectacular or anything–but the guy hit his first NBA shot and won’t be continuing with the Clippers past this game (at least for now) as they utilize this roster spot on emergency guard depth in the form of Yogi Ferrell. Maybe team and player will be reunited in the coming weeks or months.
For once, everyone on the end of the bench got such substantial run that every active Clipper got a grade. That means only the guys who didn’t suit up tonight went without marks: injured veterans Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka, essentially-redshirted Jay Scrubb, and forward Nicolas Batum, who the team rested in this game.