Clippers Stock Watch: JaMychal Green's range has returned
Welcome back to Stock Watch, a regular feature where we’ll check in on which Clippers are playing well, not so hot, or just can’t crack the rotation.
After starting off the season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA, Green naturally cooled off after a record-breaking performance against Utah, but perhaps more concerningly, he started losing faith in his jumper. Given his role on the Clippers, that can't happen.
During his cold spell, Green still crashed the glass and remains a long, athletic, switchy defender. But he is on the Clippers to provide a jump-shooting outlet around the Lou Williams-Montrezl Harrell pick-and-roll. If he isn't shooting, a huge part of his value dissipates.
Green was ice cold for the first half of the month but shot 36.7% from 3-point range over the past two weeks, helping lift his true shooting percentage to 60.6. That gives Green the best offensive rating (116.9 points per 100 possessions) on the team over that time frame.
The Clippers big is well aware that his success is tied to that of Lou and Trez, and he's just happy to be along for the ride and watch them work.
"Coming in last year, we gained that chemistry, and it's just fun being out there with those two," Green said.
The Clippers figure to use a closing lineup with Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Williams, Harrell, and one other player, and the rest of the team is essentially auditioning for that spot. Green has been that fifth player for 28 possessions thus far, per Cleaning the Glass, and the Clippers have a plus-77.2 net rating in those minutes, That includes the closing stretch against Houston on Nov. 22 when LA executed a frantic comeback in regulation.
Doc Rivers clearly trusts Green in late-game situations, and as a result, Green's minutes have maintained steady ahead of the other Clippers forward options.
One potential cause for concern: Green suffered a tailbone contusion against the Wizards Sunday that knocked him out of the game halfway through the second quarter. No update has been given on his status heading into Tuesday's game against Portland.
The Clippers have won 8 of their last 9 games; their only loss was their third road game in four nights that screamed of tired legs in the second half. No one on this team is truly struggling. The only real way to lose minutes is through injury, and that's the situation Rodney McGruder finds himself in.
After a strong stretch of play that saw him rediscover his 3-pointer and introduce a running floater, McGruder strained his hamstring in the team's win over Memphis. Although he told the Los Angeles Times that he was within a week of returning, Doc Rivers said pregame that McGruder wasn't close. Clippers PR merely confirmed that McGruder was "progressing".
If McGruder is out for an extended period, that gives Terance Mann an opportunity to seize his minutes. Mann is not as accomplished of a defender as McGruder, and he continues to make rookie mistakes, but Mann has greater size and an ability to push the pace on offense.
The Clippers generally haven't let injury absences push players out of the rotation, so McGruder should be fine upon his return. Nevertheless, the preseason hype around Mann was so extensive that there is some reason for speculation.
Keep an eye on:
Harkless has emerged as a regular starter alongside Leonard and George, in what seems like an unfair collection of wing defenders. As a result, the Clippers have used Harkless on primary ball-handlers to start games to spare the two stars from the physical toll.
Harkless has had to defend Damian Lillard. Fred VanVleet, Kemba Walker, and Bradley Beal in recent games; Rivers said after the Toronto game that he was unaware that Harkless could guard smaller players, but Harkless told his coach it was his preference.
When I caught up with Harkless later, he made it clear that wasn't his preference, simply something he could do. Nevertheless, Harkless has earned rave reviews from his teammates and coaches alike for shouldering that responsibility, even if it's diminished his stats.
Harkless has the worst net rating (minus-2.9) among the Clippers rotation players over the last two weeks, and the second-worst defensive rating, only ahead of Patrick Beverley. The eye test clearly bears out that Harkless is swallowing up offensive players with his length and quickness, so hopefully Harkless' plus-minus improves over the next stretch of games.