Welcome to the third of four installments of "Countdown to Pick #28" and an overview of who the Los Angeles Clippers might be looking at as the draft is only a day away. In the first piece, we went over the players who could make an impact now but possibly not so much down the line. In the second piece, which came out yesterday, we went over the players who, while they might make some impact now, would be more impactful in the future. Today, we're going to go over a few international players who the Clippers could be interested in. And, in the conclusion tomorrow, we'll go over the options that make the most sense and, ultimately, what the Clippers should probably do during the draft.
THE "WE'RE JUST COMING THROUGH CUSTOMS" CREW
Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland: Once you get beyond the initial wave of international prospects - i.e. Dante Exum, Dario Saric, and Jusuf Nurkic - there are other hopefuls out there. One of them is Clint Capela, the 20 year oldbig man from Switzerland. He stands 6'11" and 222 pounds with a 7'4½" wingspan and 9'2½" standing reach. There is a chance that he's not there when the Clippers are picking, a good chance actually, but he's here mainly because a lot of pundits have him going between 20 and 28. His stock seems to be all over the place. But he's big, super athletic, has defensive potential, rebounds, and can finish around the rim. There are warts, though. His offensive game is very rudimentary and is predicated upon him receiving the ball within earshot of the rim. Capela lacks post-up skills or a go-to move in post-up situations. It happens with young guys but he needs one to survive, more likely than not. He's a good finisher but also has problems finishing against stronger players. Right now, he mostly gets his points off of cuts, putbacks, or being the roll man. Clint will need to develop either a post move, as mentioned, or add in a little jumper to keep defenses honest. There's both potential and immediate impact as far as Capela is concerned. At best, Capela could be another Serge Ibaka. In the middle ground, he could be Amir Johnson. Both are valuable. If he's there, the Clippers could be staring a dream scenario in the face where they get a young big man with great potential who could learn from Blake Griffin.
Damien Inglis, SF, France: One of the rumors going around in draft circles is that Inglis must have a promise in the first round because he was going to pull out of the draft then, at the last minute, stayed in. Usually that indicates a promise. Inglis just turned 19 years old. He measures in at 6'8½" and 240 pounds with a 7'3" wingspan and 8'11½" standing reach. In terms of raw features, he's everything you'd want out of a small forward prospect. The thing that'll be his driving force in the NBA is the ability he possesses to defend a multitude of positions and do it well. He has the size, length, athleticism, strength, and knowhow to defend. He's also a good rebounder, ball-handler, and passer. Inglis' potential is through the roof because of his age, fundamentals, and measurements. Inglis, right now, lacks the ability to be a great scorer at the next level and that's one of the things holding him back. His shot isn't great, is a tad slow on the release, and isn't something he seems all that comfortable with from time-to-time. And while he can slash to the basket, that's really the only way he's gonna score points for you at the moment, besides crashing the offensive glass and running in transition. He also turns the ball over a lot as a ball-handler but that can be fixed with more time and more reps. It's just hard to find a better body as a small forward, though. He can defend, pass, and rebound at high levels. Plus, the potential is there for him to be a whole lot more.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Croatia: The soon-to-be 22 year old Serbian shooting guard has been on draft radars for quite some time. A lot of it has to do with the fact that he's got good size - 6'6" and 205 pounds with a 6'11" wingspan - but also with his ability to be a pure offensive weapon and gritty defender with good feet. He can play the point guard spot but is most likely going to just round himself into the shooting guard role as he progresses. He has a good jumper with great range and can get his shot off against most any defense. He's improved himself as both a ball-handler and passer, as well. The main issues with Bogdanovic are that, while he's got good size, he's not that good of an athlete. He's a good athlete but not a great athlete. On the perimeter, you'd like a great athlete. But he makes up for it with his scoring prowess and defensive potential. Bogdanovic has the size, length, offense, and defensive potential down but the athleticism could hold him back, as well as his decision making and inability to really create non-stop shots for both himself and others. He's probably best suited to come off the bench and provide an offensive spark alongside someone who can create for him but that's neither here nor there. The other issue is his buyout. The buyout itself is not a problem but it's there and it has to be considered. He'll be on the board for the Clippers and could be tough to pass on.
Artem Klimenko, C, Russia: Some have tabbed Klimenko as a possible sleeper in this draft and for good reason. At 7'1" and 240 pounds with a 7'4" wingspan and 9'4" standing reach, the 20-year old center from Russia should be developing some intrigue. Despite sounding like he's just some oaf, Klimenko moves very well for his size and has good athleticism for a guy who could still add even more weight to his frame. He finishes well around the rim, attacks the offensive glass, and is still relatively young which means he can develop into a rotational player. Plus, his offensive skillset is not that bad. He's a good finisher out of the pick-and-roll, namely due to his mobility and length, as well as the fact that he possesses great hands and has the occasional hook shot. On the flip side, though, he lacks great lift from his lower half and isn't as strong as you'd like a guy his size to be. Klimenko also has problems on the defensive glass but I'm not as concerned about that as I am about some of the other things I've mentioned. It's not every day you can find a young center who is big, mobile, and can give you things like finishing around the rim and being a solid rim protector. Guys like that are valuable so Klimenko could be a candidate for the Clippers to look into. One of the more underrated things about Klimenko is that he's actually a good free throw shooter which is sort of odd for someone of his size and stature. Klimenko has a future in the NBA but it's hard to pinpoint what that is. If all goes well, there's nothing that suggests he couldn't turn out to be a good backup center.
Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia: With the game of a traditional point guard, Micic stands 6'6" and 202 pounds with a 6'7" wingspan and 8'6" standing reach. His size for being a point guard is truly great and is sorta similar to that of Dante Exum. He features pure point guard ability and is an excellent pick-and-roll facilitator. His shooting isn't elite but the range is fantastic. He can pretty much shoot it from anywhere and make it, but not consistently. Micic is great in breaking down defenders off the dribble and then finding shooters on the wings but has problems with turnovers. And while the range is great, he has issues creating for himself despite being able to create for others. Defensively, he competes but isn't that good. He can get beat off the dribble and off the ball quite often because he's not a great athlete and doesn't have the lateral agility to stop guys on the perimeter. While he is 20 years old and features some upside, he probably doesn't profile out to be anything more than a good backup point guard. And that's fine. However, the fact that he has some issues scoring and other issues defending means his growth is probably stunted. He's probably a mid-second round pick at this point to a team that feels it can leave him and let him develop, but the Clippers could use him as a replacement for Darren Collison since Micic does have pure point guard ability. His size, passing, and marginal shooting make him an intriguing proposition. His defense, turnovers, and athleticism leave a lot to be desired. Tread carefully.