NEW YORK - JUNE 24: Al Farouq Aminu celebrates after being drafted eighth by The Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Draft grades are silly on draft night. The simple fact is, these guys haven't suited up yet, so there's no point to trying to evaluate the picks at this point.
Having said that, I give the Clippers an A+++++++ for this draft.
OK, that was meant to be ironic. See what I did there, where I contradicted myself? Sometimes I crack me up.
Two weeks ago, no one thought that Al-Farouq Aminu would be on the board at eight, and it looked like the Clippers would have a very difficult decision between best player available and their glaring need at small forward. Instead, need and talent aligned and the Clippers pounced on Aminu.
Then, to address their need at point guard, they traded a future draft pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Eric Bledsoe of Kentucky. Bledsoe was generally considered the second best point guard in this draft, strangely behind his Kentucky teammate John Wall. Of course, this was widely considered a very poor draft for point guards after Wall. The thing you have to know about John Calipari is that the guy can recruit. If Eric Bledsoe was in his first recruiting class, then he can play. I've heard Bledsoe compared to Russell Westbrook, but before you get too excited, it's a somewhat superficial comparison. He's a natural point guard playing shooting guard in college next to a more natural point guard (Westbrook next to Darren Collison, Bledsoe next to Wall) and he's crazy athletic. It's hard to know how good he can be based on his college career, where he was the fourth option on his team. The Bledsoe trade became official about 9 PM LA time, midnight eastern, and although Roeser and Olshey wouldn't comment on the protections on it, they assured us that it is well protected. (I assume Lisa D will have the scoop soon.)
At 54, the Clippers had to be surprised to see Willie Warren still available. Warren was a freshman at Oklahoma when Blake Griffin was a sophomore, and if he'd declared for the draft last year, he might have been a lottery pick. Warren found college ball a little tougher without the best player in the nation attracting triple teams, and his draft stock fell. Even so, he was still projected as a late first round / early second round pick in this draft. With literally no backup to Eric Gordon on the roster, to have Warren available at 54 was a gift. Will he make the roster? 54 picks rarely do - but he's in a very good situation to contribute, and he'll have his chance for sure. His talent level had him in the lottery last year, so that tells you something. The link to Griffin at Oklahoma may turn out to be crucial. Olshey said the first person he texted after the pick was Blake, and BG texted back, "I got this one coach. He'll be the player he was his freshman year."
The Clippers depth chart, in terms of players under contract and draft picks, suddenly looks surprisingly complete.
- Point Guard - Baron Davis; Eric Bledsoe
- Shooting Guard - Eric Gordon; Willie Warren
- Small Forward - Al-Farouq Aminu
- Power Forward - Blake Griffin
- Center - Chris Kaman; DeAndre Jordan
Considering that they started the day with, that ain't bad. In AFA and WW, they had guys who happened to fill positional needs that they were surprised to see available. And of course they proactively went out and got Bledsoe.
You have to assume/hope that AFA and Bledsoe can at least contribute. Can Warren as well? Can he even make the team? Add to the above list Sofo Schortsianitis, MBFGC, the Greek big to whom the Clippers still hold the rights, and the bench is starting to take shape. Oh, and by the way, they still have about $17M in cap space to add some other players.