Tyrone Wallace Making the Most of his First NBA Action with Clippers

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11: Tyrone Wallace
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11: Tyrone Wallace /

One of the best players in Cal basketball history, Tyrone Wallace is trying to make his mark in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Less than a week into his NBA career, former Cal basketball star Tyrone Wallace has already put together some strong performances. The point guard is only temporarily with the Los Angeles Clippers, but his fantastic game on Wednesday shows that he wants to make it permanent.

During his four-year career at Cal, Wallace became one of the best all-around players in school history. He finds himself ranked in the school’s top-10 in scoring (eighth with 1,613 points), assists (sixth with 437 assists), and steals (seventh with 139), and also in the top-15 with 544 rebounds. He led the team in all four categories in the 2014-2015 season, his junior campaign, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors for his efforts.

He parlayed that success into a draft pick, going to the Utah Jazz with the final selection in 2016, 60th overall. He wouldn’t make it to the NBA that year, instead spending the entire season with the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s D-League affiliate (now known as the “G League”). He played 38 games and averaged 27 minutes, scoring 14.7 points, grabbing 3.9 rebounds, and dishing out 3.6 assists per game.

Wallace became a free agent after the season, and signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in September. He impressed during the preseason, making it to the final round of cuts before moving on to the team’s G-League club, the Agua Caliente Clippers. He continued to impress in the developmental league, ranking seventh in the league with 22.8 points per game and adding over six rebounds, over five assists, 1.5 steals, and nearly a block per contest.

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Two games stood out during his campaign: a career-high 30-point (13-of-19 shooting) effort on November 18th, and the first five-by-five game in the league’s history. On December 18th, he scored 26 points to go along with a career-high 13 assists, eight rebounds, five steals, and five blocks in 41 minutes as the Clippers beat the Reno Bighorns.

Wallace played five more games in the G-League before the L.A. Clippers came calling, handing the point guard a two-day deal. Along with the team waiving Jamil Watson, plus a plethora of injuries to the team’s guard rotation, playing time was staring Wallace in the face.

He made his NBA debut in Los Angeles on January 6th against the Golden State Warriors. He was on the floor for 32 minutes, scoring 13 points on 33 percent shooting (4-of-12) with three rebounds, three steals, and two assists as the Warriors blew out the Clippers. He followed that up with an 11-point effort (3-of-7 shooting), with two rebounds and two blocks.

The former Golden Bear returned to the Bay on Wednesday, facing the Warriors again, this time at Oracle Arena. As fellow guard Lou Williams exploded for a career-best 50 points, Wallace also enjoyed his biggest night yet. He scored 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting, adding six rebounds, four assists, and two steals without turning the ball over in 34 minutes.

Wallace used his 6’5” frame to get to the rim frequently, earning himself a number of high-percentage looks. That also earned him plenty of time at the charity stripe, as he took nine free throws and made seven. He even made good on his only attempt from three-point distance, something that has been a weakness in his game since college.

It’s only three games into his NBA career, but Wallace has made the most of his short opportunity. With injuries still clearing the way for Wallace to see the floor, he should have many more chances to prove himself to the Association in the coming weeks.

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He isn’t a perfect player and still has some holes in his game, but his effort on Wednesday should be a big confidence-builder. If he can continue to build on that game and put together some more performances like that, he could play himself into a bigger opportunity.