VANCOUVER – It’s taken no time for Pablo Prigioni to endear himself to the Clippers, maybe more so than any new addition.
Paul Pierce may have more NBA years under his belt than anyone on the team, but the 38-year-old point guard is the seasoned veteran of the group. His teammates respect that.
They also respect his game.
“Pablo’s been great,” said Jamal Crawford. “I think he’s the one person who’s jumped out to me, like, ‘Oh, he’s better than I thought I was.’ You don’t see enough of him.”
By that, Crawford mostly is referring to the fact that while Prigioni was starring in Argentina and Spain, it wasn’t until 2012 that the guard began his NBA career with the Knicks.
By then, Prigioni was already in his mid-30s, well into his playing career outside the United States. But even now, in his late-30s, he’s still showing to the Clippers he has plenty left in the tank.
“He came over later in his career, but he’s so clever with the basketball,” Crawford said. “He’s a pest on defense. He’s just a solid teammate on and off the court. He’s one of my favorites already.”
The Clippers are well aware of that “pest” part, though they’d like to forget.
While not a featured part of a Rockets team which advanced past the Clippers to go to the Western Conference Finals last season, Prigioni played a vital role in that series, coming up with three steals and four assists in Game 7.
That’s the same kind of role the Clippers envision for him in Los Angeles, and even just a game into the preseason, Prigioni’s already showing he’s capable of that task.
Prigioni only played 13 minutes against the Nuggets in the preseason opener, but he had five points, a rebound, an assist and he stole an inbounds pass.
Or, as head coach Doc Rivers put it amusingly, “He did the Prigioni.”
“That’s what he does,” Rivers said. “It’s amazing. I guarantee you Mike (Malone) probably said it before the game, just like we said it before all the games in the playoffs, yet he gets you. It’s so neat to watch.
“He’s just a joy to have on the team. He can start, back-up, come off the bench, play later, not play. He’s really, him and Paul (Pierce), they’re just so smart. To have them on your team is really good for us.”
The positive adjectives continued later for Rivers, who called Prigioni a wonderful guy to have around and an absolute pro. But it’s not just the head coach who feels that way.
Go down the line of returning players on the Clippers, and they all appreciate what Prigioni brings. Just like Crawford, Chris Paul endearingly referred to Prigioni as a “pest,” specifically talking about his tenacious defense.
“He brings veteran leadership,” Paul said. “He’s just steady. He’s not a guy that makes a lot of mistakes. He brings intensity, picks up full court.”
And, he brings a lunch-pail attitude that others appreciate. He’s not the loudest guy, but he makes his presence felt and he’s accountable.
Just ask the Clippers last postseason, or the Nuggets in the preseason.
“I think he’s just very, very savvy, very smart with the ball,” said Blake Griffin. “It seems like he’s always under control, looking to make the right play, the right pass. He’s got a lot of experience playing professionally. We’ll look to that for veteran leadership.”
Prigioni said he had other teams asking if he would be interested in joining them, but he knew he wanted to come to the Clippers because he felt it was the right fit.
Clearly, his teammates think so, too.
Prigioni Quickly Becoming A Favorite Teammate