This past July the Clippers executed the first trade of two-way contracts in NBA history and acquired Johnathan Motley from the Mavs in exchange for Maarty Leunen and cash. A product of Baylor, Motley has freak-athleticism that will pair well with his high-motor, a combination of traits the Clippers seem to covet lately. A 7’4 wingspan and a 9-foot reach make Motley one of the longer players in the league, if he can harness his athleticism and measurements there is no reason why Motley can’t be force on the court in limited minutes. Motley will most likely spend most of his time in the G League this year, but with a potentially shaky center corps might be called up for some NBA service time.
Playing three years at Baylor, Motley was a 2nd team All-American for the 2016-2017 season. The Clippers have made a habit lately of stocking up on guys who’ve played over one year in college with high-motors. Playing, and improving, 3 years in a particular system shows Motley understands how to be coached and work on his game. His PER went up every year in college, as did his assists, rebounds, and points. There is no doubt Motley knows how to take direction and enhance his game, it will be interesting to see if he can capitalize on his good numbers in the G League last year and carry over some of that momentum to take some NBA minutes away from an established starter.
The biggest knock on Motley is his outside shot. NBA offenses have one goal: spread the floor, and without any semblance of a threat from outside Motley might have a hard time finding playing time. Post-play is where Motley earns his stripes: he can finish with both hands, has a great build, and has mastered a jump hook ala Montrezl Harrell. If Motley can see time in the NBA absorbing knowledge from Harrell would go a long way to help his career. Both players play with a ton of energy and have to work hard in other areas to make up for a lack of outside shooting. His strong work ethic is a nice plus when it comes to “correctable issues”, while he has gotten by on his athleticism alone in the past hopefully he can iron out some of his stroke issues with the Agua Caliente Clippers.
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Johnathan Motley is the definition of a “project player”. He had a steadily improving college career, and has show flashes of brilliance in the G League and occasionally during minutes for the Dallas Mavericks, but still has some rough edges. Fans tend to gravitate towards “hustle” players and if he sees time in the NBA Motley could become a fan favorite, with just three centers on the roster it only takes one injury and some good G League play from Motley to get his chance in the big leagues. It will remain to be see if he can learn to either correct his shooting problems but if he is able to Motley should take a hug step to becoming a full roster-able NBA player.
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