Nov 9, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (2) plays defense during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
One must wonder if Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley enters this season with a chip on his shoulder. Over the summer, the Houston Rockets tried to sign Kyle Lowry, were linked to Rajon Rondo via questionable reports, and it just doesn’t seem that Rockets GM Daryl Morey is entirely satisfied with his incumbent point guard.
Beverley has gone from a D-league point guard to an NBA backup, to an NBA starter, and he’s done it because he does one thing exceedingly well: hound opposing NBA point guards. It’s important to remember that everyone’s favorite metric, Player Efficiency Rating (or PER), fails to take into account defense. And because of that, Bev’s rating is horribly skewed to represent his ineptitudes shooting the ball and putting up points. He posted a 12.4 PER last season, with the league average of that statistic set at 15. His rookie season (in 41 games after being called up), he was about at the average (15.4).
Jan 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (2) is defended by San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Last season, Pat posted 10.2 points and 2.7 assists per game in 31 minutes a night. It must be remembered that is largely due to James Harden’s mammoth sized role within the offense. Even controlling the ball to get the Rockets into possessions usually still renders Beverley as a fourth or fifth scoring option on the court.
He’s just good enough from three-point range (36 percent) to make teams play honest—and that may be all the Rockets need from Beverley, as scoring has not been Houston’s problem, in any way whatsoever.
Point guards are the head of a team defensive snake. Having a week defender at the 1-spot enables teams to be picked apart by the multitude of great penetrators in the league. And Beverley stops so much of that. It’s shown by the fact the Rockets ranked 21st in points per possession in the first half of 2012-13, and after Bev got called up, the Rockets improved that to 12th.
There is a lot of reason to believe that James Harden’s defensive ineptitudes can be covered, even if it isn’t by Harden exerting more effort. The Rockets acquired Trevor Ariza to replace Chandler Parsons, and Ariza is a better defender than Parsons. With Beverley, Ariza and Howard, there are three above-average defenders in the starting lineup. If this team fails defensively, a lot of it is going to fall on head coach Kevin McHale.
One thing to consider about Beverley is that he is 26 years old already. It’s unlikely that at this point in his career he continues to make big leaps offensively. Yes, he has been in the NBA for under 100 games, but it’s been a long seven years since he came out of Arkansas in 2009 and having been selected 42nd overall by the L.A. Lakers. Even in The NCAA, Beverley was not a particularly dangerous scorer, averaging 13 points per game in his two seasons with the Razorbacks.
The bottom line is that Beverley is always going to be a low usage point guard, but it’s a proven fact that teams whose 2-guards dominate the ball so much require less dominant point guards. A simple look at some of the models in the past shows Michael Jordan playing alongside John Paxson and Ron Harper; Kobe Bryant carried Derek Fisher; Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were fine with Mario Chalmers…and the Rockets will be fine with Beverley.
It stands to reason we don’t see a radically revised Beverley this season. His impact will likely continue to understated, and when the Houston Rockets need buckets, Bev will be out of the picture. In fact, Isaiah Canaan may even take a few minutes away with his shooting and penetrating abilities, but until Morey finally decides to make the foolish move of replacing a key cog and intangibly valuable player, Beverley will continue to pester opposing point guards and help the Rockets become a better defensive team.