The basketball is in the hands of Patrick Beverley more frequently this season, and with that has come added responsibility to organize the Clippers’ offense.
It is a new role he has relished, a role in which he wants to excel if for no other reason than to make coach Doc Rivers proud for putting Beverley in this position.
“He’s just giving me more confidence,” Beverley said late Thursday night after another stellar performance setting up his team’s offense. “He’s put a little more faith in me and I don’t want to let him down. You feel me? You get this opportunity from a Hall of Fame coach that gives you a little bit of leeway.
“I just don’t want to let him down. I just want to continue to get better. You know me — stay grinding, stay humbled, continue to get better, continue to get better and accept criticism.”
Beverley has made his name in the NBA as a menacing defender and an antagonist, more so than as a point guard who runs an offense.
As his career progressed, Beverley made strides as a three-point shooter. Now he’s seeking to evolve even more as a player by learning how point guards orchestrate for their teams.
“I’m still not a true point guard yet,” Beverley said. “There are a lot of areas I can get better at.”
“Being consistent,” Beverley said. “Against the good teams, I just got to keep it going. There’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Beverley had seven assists against the Magic on Thursday night, six in the first quarter. He had only one turnover.
He is averaging 3.9 assists per game on the season, third behind Lou Williams (6.2) and Kawhi Leonard (5.0), who is having his jersey No. 15 retired by his alma mater, San Diego State, on Feb. 1 when the Aztecs host Utah State.
Beverley’s assists are a high during his time with the Clippers and his second most since he averaged 4.2 during the 2016-17 season with Houston.
“We have narrowed down what we are running and it has taken me some time to figure that out,” Rivers said Thursday night. “He knows exactly what we’re doing. We have a short list after makes so we can get into our stuff quickly. He knows what it is. He knows all the nuances to it. He’s been great with his passing and takes care of the ball.”
Beverley and Rivers have been together for three seasons and have both gained confidence in each other.
Beverley listens more intently to what Rivers has to say and Rivers has been willing to loosen the reins a little more for Beverley in the process.
“Yeah, and I had to figure out what his skill-set was and what’s the best thing to run so the team can function,” Rivers said. “So it was probably a little bit of both.”
Beverley said Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue has been big help in his improvement as well.
The two of them watch video together, looking for and finding ways to fast-pace the learning curve of being a point guard in the NBA.
“He’s simplified things a little bit for me,” said Beverley, who mentioned that Lue played with some legends during his career. “He told me what to look at, how to do things, how to balance things. He played with Shaq [O’Neal] and Kobe [Bryant], so how to balance that, things to look at. We watch film every day. I’m trying to get better.
“I’m stuck in the grind right now. I’m locked in. I don’t see nothing else but, ‘I got to get better, got to get better, got to get better.’ And slowly but surely, I feel myself getting a little bit better. But I can’t let my foot off the gas. I got to stay on it.”
AT NEW ORLEANS
When: 12:30 p.m., Saturday
On the air: TV: Channel 7; Radio: 570
Update: The Clippers said forward Maurice Harkless, who left Thursday night’s game in the first half because of a sore lower back, is questionable. Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, who had a career-high 49 points against Utah on Thursday night, leads New Orleans in scoring (25.8) and is second in rebounds (6.8) per game.