During Monday’s press conference prior to the LA Clippers’ practice, Head Coach Tyronn Lue gave some insight into players that have caught his eye this season.
When asked by reporter Justin Russo which players have impressed or surprised him, Lue listed a few under-the-radar names:
The Clippers play the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, and again the following week, so it tracks that Trent would be one of the first players to come to Lue’s mind (he’s probably been watching film of the Raptors). Trent is an intriguing third-year guard; his efficiency has fallen off a bit since being traded from Portland to Toronto (55% true-shooting as a Blazer compared to just 51.6% as a Raptor), but he’s become a legitimate three-and-D wing, though the Raptors’ and Blazers’ defensive ratings with Trent on the floor wouldn’t reflect the ‘D’ aspect.
If we continue to overanalyze Lue’s train of thought, he probably thought of Powell directly after Trent because the two were traded for each other at this year’s trade deadline. Powell’s efficiency has fallen off since the trade as well (from 64.5% true shooting down to 57.5%), and Portland has been playing .500 ball since acquiring him. He gives the Blazers another ball-handling element alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but he still needs to rediscover his usual three-point shooting efficiency (33% as a Blazer as opposed to 43.9% as a Raptor this season). Portland currently sits just a half-game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for no. 6 seed in the Western Conference, which would allow them to avoid the Play-In tournament.
There’s no rhyme or reason as to why Fox would pop up in Lue’s head next, as the Clippers will not play the Sacramento Kings again this season, and haven’t played them since Feb. 7, so he must genuinely admire the young point guard’s game. Fox is in a higher class than the above role players, being the no. 1 option for his team, though the Kings have yet to rise above mediocrity. He’s having an excellent individual season, posting a career-low turnover rate despite a career-high usage rate, but the Kings own the title of worst defense in the NBA, allowing 117.9 points per 100 possessions.
Lue is no-doubt observant of the league around him. It’s a necessity as a head coach, as he’s game-planning for different teams every other night. Still, it’s refreshing to hear him show some love to a few non-Clippers.