Patrick Beverley crouched in a defensive posture, his eyes focused on Toronto guard Delon Wright in front of him, his legs and arms churning.
With one flick of his right hand, Beverley tapped the ball off Wright’s leg for a turnover. He looked at the Clippers’ bench and raised an index finger.
“First team,” Beverley yelled during the Clippers’ exhibition game Tuesday night.
Beverley was in all his glory, the agitator reminding all why he was an All-NBA first-team defensive selection last season.
“It’s weird to have to tell somebody to tone it down on defense a little bit,” DeAndre Jordan, a third-team all-defensive pick, said about Beverley. “I’m trying to think of a good word. He is a pest. And I think that’s good. You’ve got to have a guy like that. He gets under your skin on both ends of the floor.”
The Clippers saw what an impassioned competitor Beverley is during nine days of training camp and two exhibition games.
In Beverley’s eyes, it was an “applause to me” that the Clippers acquired him for “a guy of that caliber” because he figured “I must be doing something right.”
“He’s always going to be intense,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s intense in practice. He takes the game very seriously. And I think his teammates really appreciate that.”
If he was going to stick in the NBA as a point guard, Beverley had to find his niche.
He was drafted in the second round by the Lakers in 2009, then dealt to the Miami Heat before being waived before the start of the regular season.
Beverley played in Ukraine in 2008-09 before he was drafted. Then he played in the Greek League for Olympiacos Piraeus for one season and for Spartak St. Petersburg for two-plus seasons.
In January 2013, Beverley signed a deal with the Rockets, spending a week playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League. He made his debut with the Rockets on Jan. 15, coincidentally, against the Clippers.
From then, Beverley never backed down to an opponent.
“I try to set the tone defensively,” Beverley said. “That helps the rest of our team. I understand I have DJ [DeAndre Jordan], but I don’t want to rely on him too much. At the same time, I want to be able to still do my thing within the defense.”
Beverly saw how his defense frustrated opponents.
Those that played against him became annoyed, constantly engaging in shouting matches with Beverley.
“I don’t have to talk trash to him any more,” Austin Rivers said, smiling. “He’s one of those guys that you want on your team. You don’t want to be on the other team with Patrick. You got to deal with him, so I’m happy he’s on our team.”
During his first five years in in Houston, Beverley watched how teammate James Harden worked every day. That inspired Beverley to do the same. After every practice in Hawaii, Beverley put up extra shots, ran extra laps, and put in a little extra work.
“I saw James do a lot work on his craft before practice, after practice and shoot-arounds,” Beverley said. “He’s one of the best at doing it. If I can steal a little bit from him to try to help my game, then so be it. I just try to grind. I believe in the grind.”
When he arrived in Los Angeles after the Paul trade, the media immediately saw how candid Beverley was.
“I am not Chris Paul. I reiterate. I am not Chris Paul,” Beverley said at the news conference in July.
Lou Williams laughed as he listened to Beverley.
Williams, who also came over in the Paul trade, said, “Welcome to Pat World.”
“Clearly, Pat is outspoken,” Williams said in Hawaii. “He’s going to get his opinions off if he feels strongly about it. … But, that’s his make-up and I think that’s how we need him to be in order for us to be successful. To get the most out of Patrick, you’ve got to let him be himself and be aggressive, be energetic, be outspoken. I think you get the best results out of him if you allow him to do that.”
And what does Beverley say about speaking so freely?
“I’m a real black-and-white type of guy,” he said. “There is no gray area with me. If it’s blue, it’s blue. It ain’t baby blue, it ain’t royal blue. It’s blue. I mean, it ain’t that hard. It’s when you start to add all the extra [mess] to it, it makes it a little tougher. I call a spade a spade. That’s how I was raised. I believe in that old fashion. We need more stuff like that in the world.”