When the LA Clippers traded away Patrick Beverley last summer, it felt as if their heart and soul had been removed, because in many ways it had.
Beverley was the team’s vocal and emotional leader, and his absence left a void that wasn’t filled by anybody else on that roster. While veteran point guard John Wall is not identical to Beverley in the way he approaches the game, he brings a level of fire and vocal leadership that has been missing for a while.
Before Friday’s practice, Clippers forward Marcus Morris said the team’s camaraderie is the best its been since he arrived in 2020. When asked why, Morris said, “Definitely adding John. The guy he is, he’s outspoken and aggressive. We needed that.”
Morris added that the Clippers were often too quiet last year, and while he didn’t specifically mention the absence of Beverley as the reason why, it was evident that his departure played a key role in that. Now with a vocal leader in Wall, the team has filled a major hole.
A leader amongst his teammates, Wall also has an internal desire to reestablish himself and prove critics wrong. Speaking on this during a recent edition of Uninterrupted’s The Shop, Wall revealed the level of attention he pays to critics, and how he channels that for motivation.
When a player has this mentality, and is capable of voicing that with teammates, it can become infectious. By all accounts, that has started to happen with Wall and the Clippers.
Wall’s immediate impact
When asked recently about the leadership styles on his team, Clippers head coach Ty Lue told reporters that Wall’s voice has been immediately welcomed by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Not the most outspoken stars in the league, Leonard and George have allowed Wall to emerge as a leader, in what coach Lue described as “instant respect” for the five-time All-Star.
“John, he’s a vocal leader,” Lue said of Wall. “He talks, he engages a lot of guys… John and Marcus [Morris] being two great vets, John a perennial All-Star, and he’s used to carrying that load.”
On the dynamic of Leonard and George welcoming a new vocal leader in Wall, coach Lue said, “I think they respect him. That’s the biggest thing. I think when you got a guy like John, who is a perennial All-Star, does all the right things, plays the right way – I saw a stat the other day, he was 7th all-time in [assists per game], so he’s gonna get guys involved. But I just think when he came into our locker room, there was instant respect. Guys respect him for what he’s done and how he plays.”
With so many developments around this team being tied back to their maturity and selflessness, this is another example of how that plays itself out.