I think it’s been a symbol of growth, just learning, growing as a player, as a person. It’s definitely been fun to get up here and (get) the opportunity to play. —LA Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace
SALT LAKE CITY — Taken by the Utah Jazz with the 60th and final selection of the 2016 NBA draft, it initially appeared that Tyrone Wallace would have the same fate as many second-round picks.
Having only appeared for the Salt Lake City Stars of the NBA D-League (now G League) during his first professional season a year ago, it didn’t seem as though the former Cal Golden Bear could have a chance at sticking on an NBA roster.
But after spending training camp last fall with the LA Clippers, Wallace has been with the organization all season, alternating between the G League’s Agua Caliente Clippers and the big club.
In fact, as the season winds down and the LA Clippers’ backcourt has been ravaged by injury, Wallace has found himself in the starting lineup and has averaged over 29 minutes per game in the last six contests.
“I think it’s been a symbol of growth, just learning, growing as a player, as a person,” he said Thursday night at Vivint Arena after the Jazz beat the Clippers 117-95. “It’s definitely been fun to get up here and (get) the opportunity to play.”
For the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Wallace, the season began with him in the G League before he signed a two-way contract with the Clippers in January, allowing him 45 days in the NBA. Over the next six weeks, Wallace appeared in 20 games, averaging 29 minutes per outing.
After his two-way deal expired, Wallace went back down to the G League but was called up before LA played the Milwaukee Bucks on March 27, and he’s primed to finish the season in the NBA.
On Thursday, he tallied eight points, two assists and two rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
“It’s been great,” he said. “As a two-way guy, it’s definitely been great. I don’t think very many two-ways are in this same position as me and guys like (teammate C.J. Williams). For our team, we’ve come in, we get a lot of minutes and play. Whenever you get the opportunity to be out there on the court, you definitely can’t take it for granted, so I’m definitely excited and happy about that.”
While Clippers head coach Doc Rivers sees Wallace’s current situation as a second opportunity for him to try to make it in the NBA while Wallace views it as his first real shot to show what he can do.
“Last year I didn’t get to come up and play,” he said, “so this year has been an amazing opportunity for me to actually be up here with the big team and actually play real game minutes and start and do those types things that I wasn’t doing before.”