As was the talk of the sports world on Tuesday, future Hall of Famer and nine-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets to pair up with James Harden. The trade was viewed as an attempt by the Rockets to contend with the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.
Among the seven players, a future draft pick and cash that the Clippers received, one of the key players was former Wisconsin star forward Sam Dekker, who could benefit greatly from this trade; maybe as much as any individual player in the deal.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported that the Clippers are high on Dekker’s upside, which is not surprising. Dekker was certainly a good player in college at Wisconsin, but his game has already expanded since entering the league, playing in 77 games for the playoff-qualifying Rockets last season, including three starts, and 30 points in his first start on January 21st earlier this year.
During his young career thus far, the Sheboygan product has averaged 6.3 points, 4 rebounds and 47% shooting in just under 18 minutes per contest. The numbers are modest, but Dekker has shown flashes, which should only balloon in Los Angeles.
In Houston, Dekker was generally the eighth man, at best, playing behind two sixth-man of the year finalists in teammates Lou Williams and Eric Gordon, the latter winning the award earlier this week.
In LA, Dekker has a chance to start for the Clippers. The team will likely undergo a rebuild if Blake Griffin decides to leave town as well, but the roster is just not nearly as deep as Houston’s.
Barring a large improvement from Brice Johnson for LA, Dekker is likely to compete with Luc Mbah a Moute and Wesley Johnson at the three/stretch-four spot. Although none of these players are quite complete, Mbah a Moute doesn’t have much of an offensive game, and Johnson’s ceiling is not very high at this point in his career, which both bode well for “Slam Dekker’s” future minutes in Hollywood.
Plus, two of the Clippers’ new prominent players will be point guard Patrick Beverley and shooting guard Lou Williams, who Dekker is already familiar with, spending a lot of time on and off the court together in Houston.
Couple that with LA’s lack of depth and Dekker’s familiarity to the spotlight from his college years, and Los Angeles could be the perfect destination for the young wing from Wisconsin.