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John Wall’s Fit with the Clippers

A void at point guard was conceived following the Clippers’ mid-season trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. Eric Bledsoe’s departure led to more minutes for Terance Mann. Mann did a solid job and saw growth as the ball was placed in his hands. But the Clippers still looked like they needed a true point guard at that position. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, “all signs now point to Houston and [John] Wall’s representation revisiting buyout talks prior to free agency in July”, if they cannot find a trade suitor by June 23rd. And one of the potential suitors includes, you guessed it, the Clippers. John Wall’s fit appears seamless, but is it really?

John Wall’s Fit with the Clippers

Wall’s benefits

Wall’s fit is not all about basketball. But about his fit with the team’s culture as well. However, let’s start with basketball. In 2020-2021, his last season of basketball, Wall averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 3.2 rebounds. All on 40.4% from the field and 31.7% from three in roughly 32 minutes. Not bad considering he missed the prior year with a multitude of injuries involving his heel and Achilles. Though his efficiency isn’t the best, Wall showed that he can still apply rim pressure and work out of the pick and roll. Additionally, he still has some burst, albeit not the same as his Wizards days. The ability to get downhill is something that the Clippers need, and Wall can assist in that area. In addition to that, adding an additional playmaker to run the first or second unit relieves stress from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Potential concerns

Contrarily, we cannot discuss the benefit of Wall without bringing up potential concerns. The two primary concerns regarding Wall are his shooting consistency and defense. While he has shown the ability to shoot the ball from mid-range and from three, being an actual threat and making defenses pay will be key if he were to come to LA. In contrast, one can argue that although he is not the greatest shooter, being surrounded by the Clippers’ 3&D wings complement his game and will open up attacking opportunities for him. But in the playoffs, teams will force him to make jumpers and pack the paint to close off lanes for Leonard, George, and Norman Powell.

Defensively, Wall is certainly not the 2014-15 All-Defensive self he used to be. But it will be something to monitor should he join the team. Wall isn’t a small guard at 6″3, and his 6″9 wingspan and some athleticism give me hope that he can be a serviceable defender. Wall posted the second-worst defensive rating of his career in the 2020-21 season. But the Rockets overall were not a competitive team, and it is hard to dictate if that is how we will play should he arrive.

Does he fit the Clipper culture?

Ty Lue built a culture within the Clippers that empowers his players and creates a supportive environment. He deserves credit for the resurgence of multiple players such as Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, and Isaiah Hartenstein. Batum and Covington both expressed their love for the team and saw productive tenures because of it.

The question for Wall is if he is able to buy into that culture. Will he be okay with not playing in crunch time if Lue decides to go with someone else? Will he accept a bench role if needed? Additionally, he has shown some questionable off-court behavior that could be a turnoff to some teams. But he has also shown charitable and stand-up acts like raising money for rent during the COVD-19 pandemic.

Wall has tremendous ability, even after his injuries. He can definitely help this team in some capacity. But the fit is everything. And if he cannot buy into what the Clippers have created, it may not be worth pursuing him at all.

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