Chris Paul suffered a strained hamstring in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 102-94 victory on Saturday night and, while the injury isn’t expected to keep him out for long, the team has a plan in place until their All-Star point guard returns to full strength. That contingency plan comes with the name Courtney Fortson, a waterbug-type guard with two years of D-League experience.
Fortson, a 5-foot-11 guard who was playing for the NBA Development League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders, has averaged 15.9 points and 5.2 assists in 17 games for the Lakers’ D-League affiliate thus far this season. It’s likely his familiarity with the Clippers system — not his averages in the Development League — was the key to his call-up, however, as the former Arkansas Razorbacks guard spent time in training camp with the Clippers in between D-League stints this season.
The 23-year-old diminutive guard certainly has opened eyes this season as I’m personally aware of a few NBA teams that had him atop their call-up list if a move for a point guard was necessary, but the quick guard has a few glaring flaws that coincide with his small stature. Fortson should be able to stay in front of anybody he’s put in front of in the NBA — and will likely be able to get by most of his defenders as well considering his speed with the ball. His size will likely deter him from ever being a full-time NBA player, however, as it takes a bit too long for him to get off his jumpshot which will likely cause him to be a non-factor on the offensive end of the ball when the help defense rolls around.
The NBA D-League is all about opportunity, however, and Fortson has a solid one thanks to his current circumstances … even if he wasn’t the most-talented option available. Fortson was already in Los Angeles and therefore will be ready for action, if called upon, when the Clippers host the New Jersey Nets at 3:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s familiar with the team already after having spent a few weeks with them last month.
Fortson is the third call-up in the past week from the D-League as the Spurs called up teammate Malcolm Thomas last week before Mike James was given another shot at the NBA following a standout game at Reno’s D-League Showcase.