The heart and soul of the Los Angeles Clippers is also a thorn in the side of the Phoenix Suns. Who knew?
Patrick Beverley has never been what some might call an offensive superstar. More people would say that he is a defensive minded pest who tries to get in his opponent’s head. Teammates love to have him on their team, but hate to play against him. This is especially true for the Phoenix Suns, as for whatever reason, across Beverley’s career, his best games come against the Suns.
The main statistic I used to research this is called Game Score. Game score takes a player’s full stat line for a game and boils it down to a single number. It takes into account points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, fouls, turnovers, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, and free throws attempted. For example, on March 8th of this year, Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points against the Lakers, which is about what he has been averaging all year. But because he only grabbed 2 rebounds and didn’t record a single assist, his Game Score is 17.1. In another case, on December 13th, 2019, Paul George went off for 46 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. There is no doubt this is an amazing stat line. But in that game, George had 6 turnovers and 5 fouls, which dropped his score to a 31.1.
Game Score is an informative stat line, but its unforgiving. Despite how many points you score, mistakes and missed shots add up. With that, let’s see where Patrick Beverley stands.
Beverley’s career average Game Score is around 5.0, which is way under the league average of 10.0. But this makes sense. Beverley’s role isn’t to fill the stat sheet. He plays good defense against the league’s best guards and lets his superstar teammates do the scoring. However, out of the 26 games he has played against the Suns in his career, Beverley’s average Game Score more than doubles to 10.2. Some may say that this is because it is easy to look good in a small sample size. But to that point, it’s also easy to look bad in a small sample size. Just as there are less opportunities to mess up, there are less opportunities to be great.
But what specifically is Beverley doing against the Suns to boost his Game Score? Well to start, he is making almost 25% more shots than he normally does through his career. For his career he averages around 3.2 made field goals per game. Against Phoenix, he averages 4.2, a full made shot better than his average. This helps his point total, which increases over 20% as well, from 8.9 points to over 11.
These numbers are eye-raising, but they aren’t exactly staggering. What is staggering is his 3 point percentage. Beverley has never been a sharpshooter, and for the most part he has never shot more than 40% from deep. Against the Suns, he shoots at a 45% clip, eclipsing what Three Point Contest participants Zach LaVine, Trae Young, and Damian Lillard shot for the season.
In addition to statistically playing better, he also has an impressive record against Phoenix. He has only lost 6 games in his career against the Suns, and only one of those has come with his tenure on the Clippers.
With all of this information, you won’t be surprised to know that the best statistical game Beverley ever played came on the road against Phoenix while he was still in Houston.
The game was on April 2nd and the Rockets only had 6 games before the playoff bracket was set. The Clippers trail by a couple games, but are on a win streak that is looking more and more threatening. James Harden, who has been dealing with a sore wrist on his shooting hand, is sitting out after Draymond Green punched said wrist the game before. With the stage set, Beverley led the team with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. He made 11 buckets on 19 shots and looked like an all-around leader, consistently making plays in half-court and fast-break settings, while also playing good fundamental basketball.
All of this leading to a Game Score of 24.4, and a 123-116 win.