NBA Draft: Plenty of prospects for Clippers to choose from

Whose hand will David Stern shake on draft night when the Clippers pick? - Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

In 48 hours, we'll know who the Los Angeles Clippers have selected. Will they keep him? Nobody knows. But, man oh man, it'll be a fun ride on Thursday night regardless of what happens.

Well, the 2013 NBA Draft just snuck right up on us, didn’t it? Just a few short days ago, the NBA crowned their latest champion. Just a few short hours ago, the Clippers finally finalized a deal for Doc Rivers to be their new head coach. Can the Doc cure all? We’ll see. But his first order of business is going to be the NBA Draft. The Clippers, at the present moment, hold the 25th overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft. Barring any trade, of course, that’s where the Clippers will pick on Thursday night. A little over a month ago, I even talked about the NBA Draft Combine that took place in Chicago and some of the players I felt would be good fits on the Clippers. It’s time to talk about what players might be there now and their eventual roles.

In my prior article, I talked about the possibility that the Clippers could take a flier on Vander Blue late in the first round as an energy defender at the shooting guard position. Blue’s mid-range jumper improved during his time at Marquette and the athleticism and motor he showed during the combine made him seem intriguing. However, it hasn’t parlayed itself into a rise in draft stock. Chad Ford doesn’t even have Vander Blue in his Top 60. In fact, he has him 72nd. Not even in the Top 15 at his own position. Teams can make reaches on players and have obviously done it in the past – anyone remember San Antonio picking Ian Mahinmi? – but I don’t see it at all in this case. I think Blue goes undrafted and the Clippers could possibly try to give him a summer league invite.

Tim Hardaway, Jr. is one of the few “realistic” possibilities when the Clippers are on the clock. That, obviously, means that he’d have to have not been picked before that point but I could see that being the case. In Chad Ford’s latest mock draft, Ford actually has Hardaway as the Clippers pick. On his big board, Ford has him 28th. So it’s not a reach at all. It’s pretty much right in line with his draft stock. DraftExpress has Hardaway going 20th and they have him 31st on their big board. So Ford and Jonathan Givony, who runs DraftExpress, don’t really vary all that much on the big board there but do vary on selection spot. Either way, Hardaway would make a good fit. He can score, he’s athletic, and he has the pedigree.

Tony Snell is the “hot” player at the moment in this range of the draft. Some love him, some just merely like him, and others are sour on him. The upside with Snell is that he’s versatile. He can play the two or the three. So that’s valuable no matter how insignificant people might think it is. Chad Ford has Snell going 30th in his latest mock draft and has him 30th on his big board. DraftExpress has him going 32nd and have him 37th on their big board. Both view him as a late first round pick but not much of a reach at this point. Snell views himself more as a two-guard at the next level but, as I mentioned, he does have the versatility to play the three. Either way, he could be there when the Clippers are on the clock unless, of course, another team falls in love with him.

Reggie Bullock is another guy that I profiled. Pure 3-and-D type of player even though his defense isn’t really that good at all. It’s just what he’s projected to do at the next level. Oddly enough, Chad Ford has him going 19th in his latest mock draft. So, too, does DraftExpress. On the big board level, Chad Ford has him 24th and DraftExpress has him 27th. So there is a realistic possibility that Bullock is gone by the time the Clippers come up to pick. If he’s not gone, he’d make an interesting choice especially if the Clippers end up trading away Caron Butler sometime during draft night. They could bring in Afflalo via trade and then draft Bullock to pair with him. You could hide Bullock on defense, to an extent, at that point. So this is something to watch and keep an eye on.

The more I watch Allen Crabbe, the more I actually like. His shooting is a major plus, as is his overall scoring ability. I still don’t like his defense but he does have sneaky athleticism. He actually reminds me a lot of Klay Thompson when Thompson came out for the draft. Similar type of player with a similar type of weakness. Chad Ford’s big board has him 25th while DraftExpress has him 28th. Mock draft wise, Chad Ford has Crabbe going 27th and DraftExpress has him going 25th to the Clippers. So it’s safe to say that Allen Crabbe is a likely candidate to be on the board when the Clippers come up to pick. So far that makes three; Crabbe, Snell, and Hardaway. All have their advantages and disadvantages. That’s the type of draft that this is. It’s all about finding that niche player at this juncture.

Last but not least is Ricky Ledo. I added him because of his intrigue and upside. Pure scorer. Chad Ford’s latest mock draft has Ledo going 29th. DraftExpress has him going 30th. Ford has Ledo 27th on his big board while Givony and company have him 42nd. This is an oddity. Givony must feel like Ledo either has a late first round promise from a team or some team is just going to jump all over his potential and go with the risk-reward type of selection. All of that makes sense. Either way, Ledo should be there at 25th overall. His upside and potential are something to watch as draft night unfolds. He’s an interesting story.

This gives the Clippers all sorts of options with their pick if they want to lean towards taking a wing player. If they want versatility and shooting with the possibility of defense down the line, they could take Snell. If they want a pure shooter who can provide scoring, Crabbe is a possibility. If they want athleticism with smarts and hustle, Hardaway is the answer. If they want upside and potential to be a very good scorer while also being a good athlete, Ledo is the choice. All kinds of options. Good options. Solid options.

All in all, mock drafts are all over the place right now. Fitting in a draft where no one knows who is going first overall. I’ve seen mocks, even as late as today, that have the Clippers taking Tim Hardaway Jr., Allen Crabbe, Rudy Gobert, Jamaal Franklin, Sergey Karasev, Glen Rice Jr., Jeff Withey, and Tony Snell. What’s this mean? Thursday is going to be fun. I hope everyone has their popcorn ready. It’s going to be a treat.

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