LA Clippers head coach Ty Lue made it clear after the team acquired John Wall that a decision on who would start between him and Reggie Jackson would be made after training camp. Both training camp and the pre-season have now come to a close, but coach Lue still isn’t revealing his starting point guard.
When asked about this after the pre-season finale, Lue said, “I thought I knew, but now I’m not so sure.” Always hesitant to reveal his game plan to the media, Lue would have likely gone with an iteration of this answer even if he did know who he planned to start. That said, there are pros and cons to both options, so let’s break them down.
The case for Wall
Having started 601 of his 613 career games, the starting lineup is essentially all John Wall knows. Despite this, he has shown an openness to whatever role the Clippers have for him, even if that’s off the bench.
Upon initial review, Wall’s skillset seems to fit best with the bench unit. Surrounding his pace and playmaking with shooters like Luke Kennard, Norman Powell, Nicolas Batum, and Robert Covington projects to create an offensive juggernaut with that unit. While a very enticing fit, Wall does have a case for the starting unit as well.
A better all-around playmaker than Jackson, Wall is not only more advanced in transition, but in the half-court as well.
The Clippers have experimented with Leonard as a roll-man quite frequently this pre-season, and Wall’s ability to make that pass to a rolling Leonard is what has made those offensive sets so successful. While the starting group of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, and Ivica Zubac may not be as equipped to run the floor with Wall in the same way the bench group can, the veteran point guard also has the ability to be surgical in the half-court, which elevates that unit to a new level.
Lastly, Wall’s ability to start alongside Leonard and George may be determined by his catch and shoot ability. A tick under 39% on those shots the last time he played, Wall is a capable catch and shoot threat, but that number would have to be sustained in order for him to be an optimal fit for that group.
The case for Jackson
Already comfortable alongside Leonard and George, Jackson experienced a revelation in the 2021 postseason.
Putting up shooting numbers that had only been accomplished by some of the league’s most notable snipers, Jackson was an absolutely perfect fit next to the Clippers’ two star players. Regressing last year in a role far too big, Jackson projects to re-establish himself this year in an appropriate role.
One of the league’s elite catch and shoot threats in 2021, Jackson was the perfect point guard for the Clippers. With his best skill coming off the ball, there was no need for Jackson to take touches from Leonard or George, and he was fine with that. Already a proven formula, the trio of Jackson, George and Leonard was dominant in the 2021 playoffs. With Leonard back and healthy, there’s no reason to believe that success couldn’t be replicated again.
Finally, Jackson’s below average defense makes him a better fit alongside defenders like Leonard, George, and Ivica Zubac, as opposed to the often smaller group that the bench will feature. Already proven alongside those guys, Jackson also has a good case to start.
The good news
As has been well covered by now, there are no egos on this Clippers team. That starts with their stars, and trickles down to everyone else. This is true for both Jackson and Wall, as the two veteran point guards are focused on one thing, which is winning. Both players trust Ty Lue, and whatever he decides, is what they will gladly accept.
The good news for the Clippers, is that they cannot go wrong with either player.