As the 2022-23 season draws near, our writers will weigh in on some intriguing topics around the league.
Will John Wall or Patrick Beverley have a more significant impact as the new guards in Los Angeles?
Steve Aschburner: John Wall. I’m rolling the dice that Wall physically will hold up for much of the season, in which case he’s a full-service point guard with a fresh lease on his career. He’ll have a deep roster at his disposal, requiring less of him individually, and if we take him at his word he’s exceedingly hungry for this opportunity. Patrick Beverley’s defensive chops won’t transform the whole Lakers culture, and his irritant style may rankle certain teammates almost as much as opponents.
Brian Martin: This boils down to what is more valuable: the higher upside of a former All-Star in Wall, or the know-what-you’re-going-to-get reliability of Beverley. I’m going with the latter as Beverley’s skill set and attitude should complement the Lakers’ star power perfectly. Beverley is a defensive pest and when he’s not hounding opposing guards and making hustle plays on defense, Beverley can spread the floor as a reliable 3-point threat (a career 37.8% 3-point shooter). He’ll help offset the loss of Malik Monk and his team-high 173 3-pointers last season and the 2021-22 campaign marked Beverley’s first since 2014-15 that he shot below 38% from deep. Wall, who has played only 113 games over the past five seasons, joins a Clippers squad filled with “if healthy” scenarios including All-Stars Kawhi Leonard (missed all of last season following knee surgery) and Paul George (missed 51 games with a torn elbow tendon).
Mark Medina: Patrick Beverley will have a bigger impact than John Wall as a new guard in Los Angeles. No knock against Wall, who will have a resurgent season after remaining on the bench in Houston (either because of injuries or so the Rockets could further develop their young players). But Wall represents just one of many core players the LA Clippers have to complement Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Los Angeles Lakers’ success or failure mostly depends on a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Yet, the Lakers acquired Beverley because he provides qualities the team lacked last season. Beverley brings pesky defense, decent outside shooting and an intensity that he expects others around him to match. Only the games will reveal whether Beverley and Russell Westbrook will bring out the best or worst in each other. But Beverley at least will elevate his other teammates.
Shaun Powell: Both guards will supply an element that each team needs — Beverley is bringing the spice, Wall the playmaking — but purely from a talent standpoint, this contest is a runaway. Wall is a former All-Star and, at his peak, a top-five point guard in this league. And while injuries perhaps robbed a bit from him (we’ll find out this season how much), Wall is only 32 and capable of averaging 15-20 points and seven to eight assists per game. If he’s anything like he was just a few seasons ago when he was healthy, the Clippers stole them one.
John Schuhmann: Beverley is more important right now because he’s the Lakers’ best backcourt defender and also because he’s shot 40% on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers over the last three seasons (505 total attempts). With that, he can certainly complement his team’s best players better than Wall can. Of course, come May and June, the Clippers will more likely be the team still playing. If Wall can make some big plays on the biggest stage (or if his inability to shoot hurts the Clippers in a big spot), that will matter more than what Beverley did for a team that (as it stands) doesn’t look like it can make it beyond the first round.
Michael C. Wright: There’s video circulating with Wall letting everybody know “I’m him,” but there’s too much iffy-ness regarding his injury history to make you feel comfortable forecasting potential impact for the upcoming season. If we’re talking about a fully healthy Wall, there’s no question he’d make a more significant impact given his ability to push the pace, penetrate downhill, and find All-Star wings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Beverley gets plenty of haters out there, but let’s give credit where it’s due. He’s most likely to be the most impactful of the new guards in Los Angeles. Say what you want about his game. But the man wins by any means necessary, and he’s the type of player that’s a culture builder. Watch the Lakers ratchet up their intensity on defense this season with Beverley leading the way.
> Coming Wednesday: Which team improved its roster the most this offseason?