Rarely does a Clipper loss look so bright

The Clippers lost on Sunday to the best team in the NBA, but they didn’t go easily and even in the loss, the Clippers could take solace in the play of their rookies. The team is in the playoffs because of Lou Williams/Montrezl Harrell/Danilo Gallinari but they all failed to play at the level Clipper fans were used to seeing from them. Yet, at one time the Clippers led the game 87 – 82 and it was because of three rookies. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landrey Shamit, and even Jerome Robinson.

Shai-Gilgeous Alexander had fourteen points in the first quarter and would go on to have the greatest playoff game of any Clipper rookie in history. Big deal, how many Clippers rookies have even played in a playoff game? That is a good point so I went to basketball reference to see just how great a game this rookie had.  SGA had a game score of 17.9 so I looked up all the rookie game scores in the postseason of at least 15. There were a ton. So I continued to cherry pick and looked for all of the game scores of at least 15 in the postseason for a player age 20 or younger.

It is no surprise that Magic Johnson sits on top of this list because his game six in the 1980 postseason was the greatest game I’ve ever seen as a fan. But he is also number one and two. Both games came in the NBA finals. There is a reason that Magic Johnson is one of the top ten possibly top five and even to some the greatest player to ever play the game.

You can see the Jayson Tatum run from last year as he had seven games make the list.

You will also see Shai-Gilgeous-Alexander on this list. Not that far down. Sandwiched between Jayson Tatum and Carmelo Anthony.

So to be clear. The list below is every NBA player with a game score of at least 15 in the postseason who was 20 years or younger.

Player                       Age Pos       Date  Tm FT FTA TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS GmSc
Magic Johnson             20-276 G-F 1980-05-16 LAL 14  14  15   7   3   1   5  42 39.6
Magic Johnson             20-271 G-F 1980-05-11 LAL  8  10   9   9   3   1   3  28 31.1
Derrick Rose              20-196   G 2009-04-18 CHI 12  12   4  11   1   0   5  36 30.4
Jayson Tatum              20-081   F 2018-05-23 BOS  7   8   7   4   4   2   2  24 23.0
Stephon Marbury           20-063   G 1997-04-24 MIN  4   6   4   4   1   0   0  28 22.1
Magic Johnson             20-264 G-F 1980-05-04 LAL  0   0   9  10   3   0   2  16 21.9
Brandon Jennings          20-206   G 2010-04-17 MIL  2   4   3   3   1   0   3  34 21.5
Harrison Barnes           20-328   F 2013-04-23 GSW  4   4   6   2   1   0   0  24 21.2
Brandon Jennings          20-215   G 2010-04-26 MIL  5   5   4   6   1   0   1  23 20.0
Tony Parker               19-345   G 2002-04-27 SAS  2   4   5   4   1   0   1  23 19.6
James Harden              20-239   G 2010-04-22 OKC  7   8   5   3   2   0   0  18 19.1
Harrison Barnes           20-335   F 2013-04-30 GSW  4   4   9   1   2   1   1  23 19.0
Jayson Tatum              20-067   F 2018-05-09 BOS  9  11   3   4   1   0   2  25 18.4
Jayson Tatum              20-058   F 2018-04-30 BOS 11  12   3   2   0   1   4  28 18.2
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander   20-283   G 2019-04-21 LAC  4   4   2   2   1   0   2  25 17.9
Carmelo Anthony           19-331   F 2004-04-24 DEN  4   4  10   4   1   0   3  24 17.8
Amare Stoudemire          20-154 F-C 2003-04-19 PHO  5   6   9   0   0   2   4  24 17.8
Tony Parker               19-338   G 2002-04-20 SAS  0   0   1   3   1   0   1  21 17.8
Amare Stoudemire          20-166 F-C 2003-05-01 PHO  2   3  10   3   3   1   2  18 17.8
Harrison Barnes           20-349   F 2013-05-14 GSW  3   4   7   1   0   1   1  25 17.3
Tony Parker               19-358   G 2002-05-10 SAS  5   6   1   5   1   0   2  24 17.3
Kawhi Leonard             20-335   F 2012-05-29 SAS  1   1  10   0   1   2   1  18 17.2
Kawhi Leonard             20-321   F 2012-05-15 SAS  3   4   6   1   3   1   2  16 17.0
Derrick Rose              20-208   G 2009-04-30 CHI  4   6   8   7   0   1   5  28 16.7
Brandon Jennings          20-217   G 2010-04-28 MIL  7   8   4   3   1   1   2  25 16.4
Derrick Rose              20-204   G 2009-04-26 CHI  3   4  11   9   0   0   7  23 16.1
Larry Hughes              20-112   G 1999-05-15 PHI  6   6   7   3   1   2   1  14 16.1
Myles Turner              20-028 C-F 2016-04-21 IND  3   4   8   1   0   3   1  17 16.0
Kawhi Leonard             20-308   F 2012-05-02 SAS  2   2   3   1   2   0   1  17 15.9
Kawhi Leonard             20-339   F 2012-06-02 SAS  0   0   9   0   1   0   2  17 15.9
Jayson Tatum              20-063   F 2018-05-05 BOS  1   4   5   4   1   0   4  24 15.8
Kawhi Leonard             20-325   F 2012-05-19 SAS  1   1   9   1   2   1   1  14 15.8
Jayson Tatum              20-056   F 2018-04-28 BOS  5   5   6   5   0   1   1  20 15.5
Tyrus Thomas              20-263   F 2007-05-07 CHI  8  11   4   1   3   1   1  18 15.5
Thaddeus Young            19-311   F 2008-04-27 PHI  4   4   9   3   0   0   0  15 15.5
Jayson Tatum              20-050   F 2018-04-22 BOS  5   6   3   3   2   0   1  21 15.4
James Harden              20-241   G 2010-04-24 OKC  7   8   5   4   2   1   1  15 15.2
Jayson Tatum              20-054   F 2018-04-26 BOS  8   9   3   3   2   0   3  22 15.0

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2019.

Jovan Buha, the Clipper beat writer for The Athletic wrote this about the game.

Game 4 was the actualization of all of Gilgeous-Alexander’s scoring gifts and instincts in one package. It was everything that makes him such a tantalizing long-term prospect — and potentially an All-Star down the line. The size, the pace, the touch, the confidence.

The Clippers have big plans for the summer of 2019 centered around Kawi Leonard and Anthony Davis but if none of them work out and the kids are all still here, I look forward to watching Landry Shamet and SGA grow up together in the backcourt.   Are championships in their future? Probably not, Portland has gotten to watch Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum grow into a devasting backcourt but they don’t have any championships in their past or future. They also didn’t have Kawi who I really hope is a Clipper in a few months. 

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