I figure with the draft coming up tomorrow, I have an obligation to say at least SOMETHING about the second round pick. I mean, it's a Clippers blog. If we're not going to obsess about the 54th pick in the draft, then really, who is?
Let's be clear. The odds of the 54th pick being a significant help on an NBA roster are very slim. In the last 25 years, only .0001% of all players picked after 50 have made NBA rosters, which is a stat that I just made up just now, and is clearly not true. But though I don't know what the actual percentage is, I know that it's a small number. If you've forgotten why the Clippers are picking so far down in the second round when they had the 8th worst record in the NBA, I'll remind you that the Marcus Camby trade in 2008 gave the Nuggets the right to swap second round picks. So the Clippers wind up with Denver's slot in the second round, and Denver had the seventh best record in the league. Don't get me started on what the Clippers got from Portland for Camby.
The other thing about picking 54 is that if you have a few different players you're interested in, the good news is that they only have to slip past six more teams and you can sign them as rookie free agents. The 60th player drafted, the last guy in the second round, should really be pissed off if you think about it. Sure, he gets to tell his grand kids that he was drafted in the NBA. But the 61st best player gets to negotiate with whichever of the 30 NBA teams might make the most sense for him. Number 60 is stuck with one team owning his rights - usually the team with the best record in the NBA the year before at that. It's not often that the 60th guy is going to help the best team in the NBA. So he goes to camp, gets cut, and then has to try to hook on with somebody else who's already invested time in their own free agent rookies. Being the 60th pick would pretty much suck.
The Clippers have the 54th pick, not the 60th pick. And of course with only five players currently signed for next season, the guy the pick has a pretty decent chance of making the team, no matter who he is - much better than 54th picks usually have. Let's face it - the Clippers need warm bodies, and they may need them extra cheap if they spend all their cap space on an expensive free agent. So who might they find?
The needs remain pretty much anywhere other than the front court. Depth at any position is going to help, but this late in the draft, there's not really any such thing as 'best player available.' You're playing hunches at this stage, and if you're going to play a hunch, it may as well be where your team needs help.
When I started writing this post, both DraftExpress and NBADraft.net have the Clippers taking the same player 54th - Sherron Collins of Kansas. Now it DX has switched that pick to Jeremy Wise, from Southern Miss by way of the D-League. (The Clippers picked Mike Taylor from the D-League; would they do the same with Wise?) Collins isn't bad I suppose. A point guard is a good choice for need, and Collins is probably as good as any point the team is going to get this late. Personally, if you're going to go with a sub 6 foot point guard, I'd much prefer Jerome Randle of Cal. I think for guys that size, they can be more effective in the NBA if they're scorers - ultra quick game changers who make defenses adjust, rather than just allowing the opposition to exploit the mismatch on the other end. Think Aaron Brooks versus Brevin Knight. I think of Randle as more the Brooks type, Collins as more the Knight type, which frankly I'm not too thrilled with. I'll go ahead and admit that I don't know much about Wise.
If you're looking for clues in who the Clippers had in to workouts, that list includes Randle and Wise as well as Scottie Reynolds and Marquez Haynes among point guards. Odds are at least a couple of those guys will go undrafted, so if the Clippers like them, they could always sign them for summer league.
In a pick this late, I'll tell you the one thing that I would be looking for - shooting. A guy who can shoot the ball with range can help an NBA team, even if they don't do anything else particularly well. In that sense, a guy like Andy Rautins of Syracuse might be worth a flyer. Jeremy
Lim Lin of Harvard has gotten some love from the Citizens of Clips Nation, but I have to admit that I know essentially nothing about him (not even how to spell his name, apparently). He's another one that will likely be out there when the draft is all over, so you could always wait and give him a look in summer league.
Unfortunately, the player I really liked in the second round withdrew from the draft at the deadline. Robin Benzing of Germany had one great game in the European championships last summer, but it happened to be the game I watched. In the scenario I constructed in my imagination, he'd get to play with Kaman this summer in Turkey, they'd become fast friends, and together they'd lure Dirk to the Clippers. Alas, Benzing is going to wait another year at least before making the jump. But he appeared to have a monster offensive skill set when I saw him last summer - keep an eye on him in Turkey.
Now there's another European prospect that intrigues me - Russian Alexey Shved. He's got great size for a point guard at 6'5", and came up through the best club team in Russia, CSKA Moscow. Unfortunately he never got a chance to play much for CSKA, who loaned him to cross town Dynamo this season where Shved finally got some burn and put up solid numbers. The success of guys like Beno Udrih and Goran Dragic has me convinced that European point guards can play in the US - and Shved is still only 21 years old. He may be off the board by 54, but if he's still there, he's the player I'd take.