For the rest of the season, each member of the Los Angeles Clippers needs to be wearing heavily padded gloves. After Blake Griffin broke his hand on a trainer's face late last month, guard Austin Rivers is now going to be out for a month to six weeks with a broken hand sustained February 3rd in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
While often negatively regarded due to his high draft position a few years ago, Rivers has been playing some pretty substantial minutes throughout the course of this season. He may not be the type of talent that a team would take with a top 10 pick if there were a re-draft of the 2012 NBA Draft, but he has proven that he can play solid defense on the perimeter while also showing a knack for finishing at the rim.
Many would assume that Lance Stephenson get a longer look in Rivers' absence and that may be true to an extent, but Doc Rivers has shown throughout the year that he will be on a tight leash. With little financial flexibility, the Clippers as a whole are limited in what they can do to fill the void externally, which seems like a perfect storm for an NBA D-League signing.
Doc Rivers has been known to utilize the D-League more than many other coaches, with one call-up so far this year (Jeff Ayres) and ten over the course of his coaching career. If he decides that Stephenson is not going to be capable of filling his son's minutes, there are a few options that stand out as the most viable replacements.
A call-up for Murry would not be his first NBA action, as he's seen playing in 56 NBA games over the course of the last two years, including a 51-game stint with the Knicks in the 2013-2014 season. He's not going to wow anyone on the offensive side of the ball, but he's progressed enough to the point that he can do a decent job of finishing at the rim and he can hit a three-pointer if he's left alone.
The defensive side is where Murry really makes an impact. He has solid lateral quickness that allows him to keep up with smaller guards and he uses his 6'9 wingspan to effectively disrupt passing lanes. It would be a rarity to see him giving less than 100% on the defensive side of the ball, which is naturally a huge positive at any level, but especially so in the D-League. His offense may not set him apart from many other guards, but his defensive ability would give the Clippers some great flexibility off of the bench.
Fresh off an NBA stint with the Phoenix Suns that concluded at the end of last month, Brown has not yet been able to get his shot to fall consistently at either the NBA or the D-League level. Despite that, he has been able to get to the rim semi-consistently and has managed to be a semi-consistent distributor.
On the defensive end, Brown can show inconsistent effort at points but when he's dialed in, he's able to give ball-handlers fits. His steals numbers (2.2 per game through 18 games) are a bit inflated due to the fact that he tends to gamble, but he's still a pretty capable ball-hawk. He wouldn't necessarily fit into the 'perimeter defender off of the bench' role that Rivers held, but his skill set could be one that assists the Clippers in other ways.
The Clippers wouldn't have to travel far to find Blue, who's currently in Los Angeles playing for the D-Fenders. His game is best suited for a team that likes to play up-tempo and get out and run in transition, which works well with the Clippers who are in the top half of the league in Pace Factor. He's not a knock-down shooter by any means, but his superb athleticism and quick first step allow him to carve up defenses by getting to the lane. Currently sitting at 25 points per game throughout this season, Blue has never had a problem creating offense for himself or others.
On defense, Blue provides nearly the exact same measurables as Rivers. Both standing 6'4 and weighing 200 pounds, Blue has a slightly shorter wingspan (6'6 to Rivers' 6'7), but he's still capable of pestering the opposing team. You'll almost never see anyone blow past him off the dribble and although he can be overpowered on pick and rolls, he does what he can to make up for a relative lack of strength. He made appearances in the NBA in both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons and this could be the perfect match for his skill-set.