For the breakdown of the Clippers’ Ball Handlers, click here.
While they have a deep roster overall, the Los Angeles Clippers’ team is fairly shallow when it comes to bigs. But while Doc Rivers doesn’t have many options, he does have some intriguing ones; veterans Marcin Gortat, Montrezl Harrell, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, and rookie Angle Delgado fill out his options.
But how should Rivers be expected to use this group, and what exactly can these players do for him and the Clippers?
A mainstay in the NBA for over a decade, Gortat has made a career on solid fundamentals, a deep understanding of the game, and some veteran tricks here and there. His counting stats from last season – 8.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game – don’t exactly jump off the page, but they don’t tell the whole story.
While Gortat struggled compared to other roll-and-cut bigs with at least 2000 minutes played in our database – he ranked in just the 32nd and 36th percentiles as a defensive and offensive rebounder, and in just the 74th as an interior defender when compared to those bigs – he was great overall with an A-minus grade in each of those categories. Gortat has been a solid passer as well. Last season, our BBall Index grades gave him a B-minus grade as playmaker compared to those aforementioned bigs.
Gortat isn’t a big-ticket player, but he is the most experienced option for the Clippers at, arguably, the weakest position on their roster. And that experience will come in handy as the Los Angeles looks to make the postseason for the first time sans the Lob City trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
In terms of his offensive game, Harrell is more of a throwback big. However, the versatility he brings to the court make him a major asset for the Clippers in the modern NBA.
Harrell is easily the most athletic big on the Los Angeles roster; he can play power forward or center, has solid length, and can jump out of the gym. More importantly, however, is the fact that Harrell works very hard, he plays like he wants to be there, and shows that effort on a nightly basis.
His counting stats don’t look like much – 11 points and four rebounds per game last season – but Harrell is solid on the glass. While he has struggled as a defensive rebounder, BBall Index ranked Harrell in the 90th percentile as an offensive rebounder and gave him a B-minus grade when compared to other post-up bigs with at least 1000 minutes played.
Despite a perceived lack of size, the six-foot-eight Harrell is a solid defender on the interior as well and was given an overall interior defense grade of B-plus. He has the length – seven-foot-four wingspan – and speed to stick to and alter the shots of smaller forwards on the perimeter, but also has the weight behind him to bang down low with larger centers as well.
Again, Harrell is essentially a non-shooter. He made just one of seven three-point attempts last season. But he can be a solid offensive weapon on the interior and can hit his shots near the basket. Harrell shot 63.5 percent from the field last season, and BBall Index gave him an A grade as a finisher and for his roll gravity and post play as well.
Harrell should soak up most of the power forward minutes for Rivers, but could certainly be in line for time at center, or even small forward, should Rivers decide to play with a smaller, or larger, lineup.
Marjanovic is hard to miss. The seven-foot-three behemoth towers over his NBA competition and most of the Los Angeles skyline.
While he has lacked for court time – he averaged just 8.6 minutes per game in 39 games between Los Angeles and Detroit last season – the stats show Marjanovic could be a solid contributor if given an expanded role; he averaged 25 points and 15.3 rebounds per 36 minutes last season.
Those are Wilt Chamberlin level numbers.
Now, no one is saying Marjanovic is Chamberlin, but he can have an impact. He ranked in the 95th and 96th percentile as an offensive and defensive rebounder, respectively, last season. Marjanovic was solid in other areas as well: according to our BBall Index Player Grades, he finished last season with A, A-minus, and B-plus grades as a finisher and in terms of roll gravity and post play, respectively.
Marjanovic won’t see heavy minutes but he should push for more playing time if he can make impact plays on a regular basis.
Mike Scott and Angel Delgado
Scott, an underwhelming veteran, and Delgado, a rookie on a two-way contract, are unlikely to see competitive minutes this season.
Scott spent most of his season with the Atlanta Hawks before he spent last season with the Washington Wizards. He shouldn’t see much floor time, but Scott does bring some positives: the power forward earned an A perimeter shooting grade and a B-plus post play grade when compared to other bigs with 1000 minutes played in our database. He averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 76 games last season as well.
Delgado is an interesting gamble. The rookie, assuming the season hasn’t gone down the drain by its midway point, should spend most of his time on the bench or in the G-League. Delgado was solid in college, and had an impressive showing in his most recent NCAA tournament appearance, averaging 12.1 points and 11 rebounds during his four years at Seton Hall. He even posted a 24-point, 23-rebound double-double against Kansas in the tournament.
While the bigs don’t overwhelm with their talent or upside, this five-man group will provide a solid, stable floor for the rest of the roster to stand on. Not only that, but they bring some veteran and postseason experience to a roster that will rely on some very capable, but young, contributors as well.
All non-BBall Index stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.