The Clippers wrapped up their pre-draft workouts yesterday. Very little has been reported in the media regarding these workouts - whether the organization is being tight-lipped about it, or the media simply couldn't care less given the circus on the purple and gold side of Staples, is not completely clear. I do know that the organization scheduled a media availability to discuss the draft on Monday, and the silence in the LAT, OCR, etc. today was deafening regarding matters Clipperian. Apparently if Kobe didn't say it, it's not NBA news in LA.
Still, we can glean a little something about what the Clippers are thinking heading into Thursday's draft by examining the players they have worked out.
|Thaddeus Young||Georgia Tech||6/11/2007||14||SF|
|Acie Law IV||Texas Tech||6/13/2007||15||PG|
|Rodney Stuckey||Eastern Washington||6/20/2007||16||SG|
|Jason Smith||Colorado State||6/13/2007||17||PF|
|Javaris Crittendon||Georgia Tech||6/13/2007||18||PG|
|Daequan Cook||Ohio State||6/9/2007||27||SG|
|Dominic McGuire||Fresno State||6/11/2007||43||SF|
|Russell Carter||Notre Dame||6/9/2007||66||SG|
|Coby Karl||Boise State||6/9/2007||71||SG|
|Mohammed Abukar||San Diego State||6/25/2007||78||PF|
The team worked out 26 separate players over the course of a little more than two weeks. The table above lists all of the players, their overall rank in Chad Ford's Top 100 (for lack of a better measuring stick), the date they worked out for the Clippers, and their position. Bear in mind that logistics plays some role in this process. Guys on the list like Ubaka and Watson (and to a lesser extent Abukar) are California kids - they were undoubtedly around and available to workout. The Clippers aren't going to spend the 45th pick on these guys, but they could invite them to play on the summer league team in Vegas.
Nick Young of USC was the one and only player who worked out twice. Do the Clippers really like him? Sure. But he's also local, and so don't make too much out of the fact that he worked out twice (versus say Law working out once).
But can we tell anything from the list of players the Clippers evaluated up close? I think so.
First of all, they worked out all 6 guys ranked from 13 to 18 in Chad Ford's list. These are the logical candidates for the pick at 14, although you wonder if it was a mistake not to work out a few guys ranked higher. In the event that someone falls below where they were expected to be drafted, the Clippers will have to make a quick decision. The potential problem becomes more vivid when you consider that in 2005 both Gerald Green and Danny Granger were unexpectedly still on the board when the Clippers took Yaroslav Korolev with the 12th pick. Sure it's easy to call it a bad pick in hindsight. But it also seems likely that MDsr had his sights on YK, and then got tunnel vision and failed to react when Green and Granger slipped. Furthermore, in several mock drafts, various supposedly top 10 players have been available with the 14th pick - I myself have drafted Jeff Green and traded Joakim Noah, while Chad Ford's latest mock draft has the Clippers taking Julian Wright, all of whom are supposedly top 10 picks, and none of whom worked out for the team. I'm sure that the agents for supposedly top 10 prospects are hesitant to schedule workouts with the team holding the 14th pick, but I just hope that MDsr and EB1 are ready to react this time.
Curiously, they also worked out 7 guys ranked from 23 to 34. Obviously, Chad Ford's list is not the be all end all, and maybe they just wanted to see for themselves if any of these guys were worth the 14th pick. But still - that's a LOT of players in a sort of dead zone between the Clippers two existing picks, at 14 and 45. The odds that they would take one of these guys at 14, or that they would still be on the board at 45, seem pretty slim. In a finite universe, where you can only look at so many prospects, it makes me think that a Clippers-Suns trade, similar to the one I made in the SBNation (and Friends) Mock Draft, and as has been rumored by Ford, has at least been discussed. The evidence of the workouts seems to suggest that the Clippers think it's possible they may end up with a late first round, or early second round pick.
They worked out 3 of the top 5 point guard prospects (Law, Crittendon and Koponen) and a highly rated combo guard (Stuckey). (Conley will certainly be gone, though I have no explanation for why they would not at least take a look at local product Gabe Pruitt). They also worked out point guards Aaron Brooks and my personal favorite Jared Jordan as possibilities at 45, and the aforementioned Watson. So clearly a point guard is high on their list of priorities.
13 of the 26 players they worked out are 'wings' and most of the power forwards who came in might actually play the 3 in the pros, and have some range on their jump shots (Jason Smith, Nick Fazekas, Josh McRoberts, etc.) That leaves euros Erceg and Barac as the only pure 'bigs' that they even looked at (if they are even thinking about those guys, it must be as a hedge against MBFGC ever coming to the NBA). Again, this all makes sense. As we've discussed extensively here at ClipsNation, point guard and wing are the problem areas.
Conclusions? Well, I'm convinced that if they keep their current picks they'll take a wing at 14 (Nick Young if he's there), and a point guard (hopefully Jordan) at 45. But I'm half expecting a trade at this point - they're certainly not looking to move up in the draft since they didn't work out any top 10 prospects, but I think they may be talking to Phoenix or Philly - some team with two picks in the 20 to 35 range to swap for their one pick at 14.