Patrick Beverley was first in line among all the newest Clippers to walk into an introductory news conference.
Then Beverley, who was dealt to the Clippers in a six-player trade that sent Chris Paul to Houston, stopped on a dime and allowed the five others to walk onto the stage first.
He will not, however, take a back seat to Paul, a nine-time All-Star. When Beverley was asked about replacing Paul, his response was short and strong.
“Let me get this out of the way: I’m not Chris Paul,” Beverley said. “I reiterate, I am not Chris Paul. Understand, he is not me either.”
And that was that.
Beverley wants the comparison to Paul to end there, but it will follow him as long as he’s the point guard for the Clippers and Paul is with the Rockets.
They’re inextricably linked, like it or not.
Beverley, no longer playing in the same backcourt with James Harden, is expected to have more freedom in an offense that will feature more ball movement than when Paul ran the system under coach Doc Rivers.
He will be counted on to provide the same stingy defense for which he is known. He matches up against opponents’ best guards and has done it well, being selected to the NBA’s first-team all defense last month. In 2016, he proclaimed that he was the best defensive player in the NBA.
“We’ve been big fans of Pat for a long time,” said Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ executive vice president of basketball operations. “He’s an instigator [and] agitator but sometimes what gets lost in that [is] extremely talented. It seems like every time the bar is raised, he meets it. Size is irrelevant. You look at the rebounds and assists and his size. He shoots a high percentage from three. He’s first-team all defense, but we think there’s a complete game with it.”
Beverley averaged 9.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists and shot 38.2 percent from three-point range last season. He will fit in with former Rockets teammates Sam Dekker, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell just fine. Also introduced Tuesday were rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell.
“We have some dog in us, that’s how we play the game,” Dekker said of the recently traded Houston contingent. “We have a chip on our shoulder…The way we got here was playing hard and playing scrappy, getting in scuffles on the court. That’s what we do. Last year, in Houston, with the second unit when they threw Pat with us, Trez and a couple other guys, when we went on the court, we always said: ‘Let’s bring the dog out. Let’s do what we do and do what we do best, that’s making them work and make them hate us.’ That’s what we did. Our second unit was one of the best in the league, we thought. That’s what we’re going to bring to LA.”
Beverley could see his offensive numbers increase on a team that re-signed Blake Griffin, already has DeAndre Jordan and added Danilo Gallinari this offseason.
He already has built his reputation on the defensive end, having had success guarding Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and others. But Beverley has said he is looking forward to a new kind of opportunity with the Clippers, one that could showcase more of his offensive skills.
“I’m put in a situation where I’m truly blessed to see what the limit is with me,” Beverley said. “I understand coach will push me. It’s going to be fun. My mindset is all about winning. I’m a really black-and-white guy. There’s no grey area. I’m coming to win basketball games. I didn’t come here to look good doing it.”