LOS ANGELES – The Clippers’ search for depth at small forward has been answered at least in part by “The Truth.”
Paul Pierce officially signed Friday with the Clippers, who are getting a 10-time NBA All-Star and former NBA Finals MVP with extensive playoff experience.
Pierce won an NBA championship with Clippers head coach Doc Rivers in 2008 when Rivers coached Pierce in Boston. Pierce, a 17-year NBA veteran, has averaged 20.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for his career, most recently averaging 11.9 points and four rebounds per game last year for the Wizards.
The 37-year-old forward turned down a chance to stay in Washington to go back to his hometown in Los Angeles. Pierce, a former Inglewood High School star, now has a chance to spend the tail end of his masterful career in the city where he grew up.
The former Kansas Jayhawk aptly nicknamed “The Truth” has had a knack for coming up in the clutch. Last year, he led the Wizards to a Game 3 win against the Hawks with a buzzer-beater. In Game 7 of a first-round series in the 2014 NBA Playoffs, he swatted a Raptors shot in the waning second with a block that sent the Nets to the second round. While known for his dagger shots in clutch situations, his late-game heroics are countless on both sides of the floor.
Most of those major moments came in Boston, where he spent the first 15 years of his career from his rookie year in 1998 to the end of the 2012-13 season. Nine of those seasons came playing for Rivers, including the championship year in which Pierce was named Finals MVP.
He’s hit plenty of dagger long-range shots during his career, and he should see a good deal of looks from the corner on dishes from Chris Paul. Pierce is a career 44.7 percent shooter, and that’s exactly what he shot from the field last season with the Wizards. He also shot 38.9 percent from 3-point range, better than he had in any of his previous four seasons.
Most of his 3-point shots last year were above the break, but he hit 44.4 percent of his left corner 3-pointers and 40.6 percent of his right corner 3-pointers last year.
He should get plenty of catch-and-shoot 3-point chances, which he hit 40.5 percent of last year. In addition, his defensive rating of 98.6 was better than anyone on the Clippers who played at least 40 games last year. When Pierce was off the court, the Wizards allowed 2.7 more points per 100 possessions.
But just as valuable as any of his “3-and-D” statistics is what he brings from an experience standpoint to a team looking to make a deeper playoff run in 2015-16.
Pierce has played in 158 career postseason games. Last season for the Wizards, he scored 14.6 points and recorded 4.2 rebounds per game in the playoffs, both higher than his regular season averages for the season. He started 73 games last year, but the Clippers could choose to ease some of that burden, which is made possible by the addition of Wesley Johnson.