NBA Draft Combine: Intriguing Prospects for Clippers

After two days of getting weighed, measured, and interviewed, the next crop of prospects have left Chicago after their latest step into the grand world of the NBA. There were some interesting prospects that the Clippers might look into.

The 2013 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago came to a close this past afternoon. Last year some of the winners of the combine were Damian Lillard, Terrence Ross, and Thomas Robinson. This year's draft class was viewed in a different light from previous years. It has been billed as the worst draft since 2000 in terms of prospects and actually doesn't differentiate all that much from that draft at the top. The likely top overall pick, Kentucky's Nerlens Noel, tore his left ACL on February 12th against Florida. The top overall pick back in 2000, Kenyon Martin, broke his right fibula and also tore ligaments. The combine this year helped showcase guys who hoped to shed the "worst draft in a decade" label that's been thrown onto this pile of talent. Well, not only did this crop of kids show that they were the most athletic to come out in a long time but they also showed they might be better than some think. However, we're only going to look at the prospects that the Clippers might see when they show up on the clock in the first round.

NOTABLE PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR THE CLIPPERS PICK

  1. Vander Blue: I should preface this by saying that I have a friend who currently moved to South Carolina but previously had lived in Chicago. Before Chicago, he attended Marquette. We talk on nearly a daily basis and I called him today after watching Vander Blue. He hadn't seen how Blue performed but I had. He asked me if it was good and the only thing I could say was "better than good" before he jumped back in by raving about him more than he ever had to me. From a pure measurement standpoint, Vander Blue isn't going to blow you away. He stands 6'5¼" and weighs 197.4 pounds while possessing a 6'6" wingspan. He's really a prototypical two guard in the NBA as far as size is concerned. But then he hit the court. And you saw the potential. Blue ran a blazing three-quarter time (3.14) and then backed it up with an even more ridiculous lane agility time (10.40). Vander then ran a modified time of 2.70 and finished off with a maximum leap vertical of 37½". He's not quite Tony Allen but he's close. Tony Allen had him with a 6'9" wingspan. Everything else is nearly identical to the numbers Tony Allen put up. He could either be the next Tony Allen or the next Malcolm Lee. It says a lot when a guy who is a noted great defender can come in and showcase his athletic ability like this. His two-way game should translate extremely well to the NBA and the Clippers could definitely take a gamble on him late in the first round.
  2. Tim Hardaway, Jr.: I've been pretty sour on Hardaway as a prospect since I feel like he's a solid player but not anything worthwhile as a whole. He showed up at the combine and displayed that he does have legitimate NBA two guard size at 6'6¼" and 199.4 pounds with a 6'7" wingspan. Hardaway then showcased his athleticism by performing very well in the three-quarter time (3.25), lane agility time (10.68), modified time (2.93), and maximum leap vertical (37½"). Oh and he was also the top three-point prospect that showcased his skills. He attempted 25 shots from beyond the arc and made 19 of them. When it came time for the three-on-three drills, Hardaway also stepped up and performed well. The one problem with Hardaway is that he doesn't always give his best on defense. As a player coming into the league, coaches and executives want to see a kid willing to do what it takes to win on both ends of the court. Even if you're only good on one end, you must at least try and compete on the other end. Hardaway, if he proves to people that he can compete on defense, could slide his way into the late first round and possibly to the Clippers.
  3. Tony Snell: I recently had someone tweet me about Tony Snell who told me he was a lot like Kawhi Leonard. I'm going to be honest, I didn't see it. However, he did showcase a jumper that looked like it could be taken to the next level. From a size standpoint, Snell was great. He came in at 6'7¼" and 198.2 pounds with a 6'11½" wingspan. Perfect size for the two or the three. Snell's three-quarter time of 3.25 was good, as was his 2.84 modified time and 36½" maximum leap vertical. The one drill that he turned heads in, besides shooting the lights out, was the lane agility drill. His time of 10.36 came in second in the entire combine. The only prospect to do better was C.J. Leslie (10.19). Snell features a bit of a two-way game but is more shooter than defender right now. That's not to say that he doesn't have the potential to be a great defender. He does. Tony Snell could be a steal late in the first round, and the Clippers could take him to be that two-way wing player that they desperately need. He does have the size, shot, and projection to make a positive impact.
  4. Reggie Bullock: Bullock and the guy that will follow him are pretty similar. Bullock measured in at 6'7" and 199.8 pounds while featuring a 6'8¾" wingspan. His 3.31 three-quarter time was good but his lane agility time of 11.33 was mediocre. His 3.3 modified time was a little bit underwhelming but his maximum leap vertical of 36½" was actually quite good. As far as the athleticism is concerned, it's a hodgepodge of results. You have some good, some bad, and some average. Bullock pretty much is settled into the small forward role at the NBA level because of that. His defense is a bit on the average side, as well. The sticking point for him will be his shot. He shot it great at the combine (72%) and if he can take that to the pros then he has a good chance of making something of himself. Problem is that he'll have to show more. He'll likely be there when the Clippers make their selection but I think they'll want a little bit more from a player at this juncture.
  5. Allan Crabbe: The other side of the Bullock coin, so to speak. Crabbe -- which, by the way, is pronounced like "crab" instead of "crabby" -- came into the draft with a lot of questions surrounding his athleticism. His defense is quite terrible. I've seen it on tape a few times and I've actually cringed while watching it. Anyways, Crabbe measured in at 6'6¼" and 197.4 pounds with a 6'11¼" wingspan. The wingspan shocked me. I didn't think he was that long. Crabbe's three-quarter time (3.32) nearly equaled Bullock's. His maximum leap vertical of 36" fell a hair shy of Bullock's. Crabbe's modified time of 3.10 edged out Bullock. The one place where Crabbe blew Bullock away, however, was on the lane agility drill where Crabbe posted a time of 10.67. A nearly identical mark to that of Hardaway. It means that Crabbe clearly has the athleticism and could possibly even be a solid defender at the next level if he actually tries. Was he just not trying all that time? Hard to believe. He did show a great shot (70%) and definitely will take that with him. He has unconscious range. He'll likely be there when the Clippers pick and wouldn't be a bad choice. Defense, as we are seeing with some kids, could be the problem.
  6. Ricardo Ledo: I was fairly positive that Ledo would shine in a setting like this and move into the late lottery. Alas, I was proven wrong. I'm actually moving him down my board rather rapidly. On my first big board, I had him 9th. Tonight, I moved him down to 17th. He still will probably keep getting moved down. It's hard to see why a player like him, who had a ton of question marks surrounding him after his lost season, would show up out of shape. He showed good two guard size -- 6'6" with a 6'7¼" wingspan and 197.2 pounds -- but clearly put zero effort into getting ready. He timed well but didn't jump well. The thing that hurt him the most, unfortunately, was how he looked in workouts and his weight. He had 10.25% body fat. You could add up the three lowest body fats in the entire combine and get to 11.05%. Shameful. He'll be on the board for the Clippers most likely but I wouldn't want him. Not after that work ethic got displayed.

There are a lot of players that will be on the board when the Clippers pick. They even interviewed some players. Ryan Kelly and Erik Murphy immediately come to mind. Both are stretch fours in the Ryan Anderson mold. I truly don't believe either will be picked by the Clippers but rather they're just doing their due diligence. It is important to remember that just because a team interviewed certain players doesn't mean they're only going to pick from that pool of players. We've seen in the past where a team has drafted a player they never interviewed. It's one of the many great parts about the NBA draft process.

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