We've been so pre-occupied with other issues here at Clips Nation that we've paid very little attention to the pre-draft workouts that have been conducted by the Los Angeles Clippers. Better late than never, I hope. Let's look at some high level information related to those workouts.
I'm not going to recreate all of the good information that's available on Clippers.com -- head over there to the Draft Central section to get the big picture overview. The team conducted eight days of workouts during which time they saw 41 players in groups ranging in size from four to six.
Every team looks at a few different types of players in these workouts -- players they may spend a pick on, and players they hope will fall out of the draft completely that they might want to invite to their summer league squad. And given the volatility of the draft, with teams trading up and down and the possibility of acquiring additional picks, it's not always possible to know what a team is thinking. We can look at the players the Clippers brought in, realize they have the 25th pick, look at the experts' draft boards, and make an intelligent guess about who the Clippers might be targeting at 25. But maybe they also have designs to trade for a pick in the middle of the second round. We just don't know everything and we're necessarily reading tea leaves here.
Most of the eight specific workouts days the Clippers scheduled you can ignore as regards the first round. The big day, the important day, was workout number seven, last Friday. On that day, the Clippers brought in Tim Hardaway, Jr., Reggie Bullock, Ricky Ledo, Tony Snell, Ray McCallum and Brandon Paul. McCallum and Paul are outliers in that group -- they rated much lower as prospects and McCallum is a point, not a wing. Scheduling is always an issue as well, and maybe these are guys the Clippers wanted to see, but couldn't get in the building on another day.
The other four (Hardaway, Bullock, Ledo and Snell) are the money picks, four of the players that most people (myself included) believe the Clippers should be targeting. However, there are a couple names conspicuous by their absence. Neither Allen Crabbe nor Jamaal Franklin, wings that project to be drafted somewhere in the 20-30 range, worked out for the Clippers. Maybe it was scheduling -- in Crabbe's case, he was dealing with a sore ankle when the Clippers were working out these other wings -- but it raises the question of whether the Clippers will be completely comfortable drafting a player they weren't able to work out, a player they couldn't talk to one-on-one. There have been questions raised about Crabbe's work ethic and attitude -- he's actually the kind of guy you would want to sit down with before committing to him with a first round pick. So we'll see.
Tony Mitchell is another name that could come into play. Mitchell worked out for the Clippers on Tuesday -- he's bigger than the other group, more of a 3-4 than a 2-3, but he's probably athletic enough to play on the wing in the NBA. He's had his issues in college, and for that reason he will probably be available at 25, even though he's got the talent to be in the top 20. I don't think the Clippers would take him because he's not a great fit -- but he's the kind of talent that teams sometimes fall in love with, and could end up being a high risk, high reward pick.
The other workout day to look at closely is day two, back on June 12: call it point guard day. That day the Clippers brought in a group of six point guards, some of whom are projected in the range where the team is picking. It's worth bearing in mind that on June 12, the Clippers didn't have a coach, were shopping Eric Bledsoe, and might have even been a pinch nervous about Chris Paul's future (though that's not likely). At any rate, the thinking at point guard could be completely different in the Doc Rivers era (Rivers seems to like Bledsoe a bunch, and Paul is clearly not going anywhere). Players like Isaiah Canaan and Erick Green might be decent need picks at 25 -- but the Clippers don't really need a point guard, so it's not likely to happen. (Conversely, if it does happen, it may indicate a greater likelihood that Bledsoe will be dealt.)
There are a couple of other interesting names on the list of players the Clippers worked out. Jeff Withey and Mike Muscala are bigs that the Clippers brought in that might make sense at 25. Again, the thinking may be different if Rivers is committed to DeAndre Jordan -- Jordan was being shopped when Withey and Muscala were working out for the team. I don't see the Clippers picking a big at 25, and I certainly don't see them picking either of these guys. If the Clippers do go big here, it will be for a player that was projected higher who unexpectedly falls in the draft.
As a final aside, the Clippers worked out a player named Kwame Alexander on June 19. Remember a few weeks back when I was a judge for a Slam Dunk Contest at City Walk? Alexander, aka Space Jam, won that contest, and he'd be a great addition to the pregame layup lines for the Clippers, if not exactly a major contributor in the NBA. Maybe I'll get to see him in Vegas in a couple of weeks at summer league.