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Draft Day Special Coverage

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OK, so it's not really special.  Still just me.  I may shave.  That would make it special I suppose.

At least there are a handful of Clippers Draft stories in the media.  Beat writers Jason Reid and Art Thompson had pieces in their respective papers today, and Joe Stevens had a piece yesterday.  There's even an AP story out there with Sam Cassell doing what he does best, i.e. talking a lot.

Everyone is taking the point guard angle, either to say that the Clippers will definitely take a point guard, or to say that they may not, despite the obvious need.  I guess I'm not convinced that the need is so obvious.  Not that they don't have trouble.  But look at it this way; if you're thinking optimistically, Shaun Livingston is your starting point guard in 2008-2009, and maybe a little sooner.  That means any point guard you draft now is at best a backup in the near future, and being asked to provide major minutes in the first months of their pro career.  That's of course completely opposite of the logical development of NBA players, especially mid-first round picks, and doubly especially point guards.  The optimist therefore crosses his fingers, hopes Cassell can play effectively, hopes Livingston comes back strong, and drafts the best perimeter player available.  That may be a point guard, or it may not.  But the odds of getting significant help at the point from ANY ROOKIE in 2007 are extremely remote.  

One interesting development is the potential slide of Julian Wright.  As I mentioned yesterday, the Clippers did not work him out.  Despite the absence of a first hand look, Reid reports that "Wright of Kansas, Nick Young of USC and Thaddeus Young of Georgia Tech were among the highest-rated players on the Clippers' draft board."  This would come as no surprise to Kevin at ClipperBlog who called Wright the most 'Dunleavyish' player in the draft last week.  

But why didn't the Clippers work him out?  And more importantly, why is he sliding? Chad Ford's 5th mock draft had him going to the Clippers at 14.  Mark Heisler's mock draft today has him falling all the way to 21 (!).  Let's hope that the teams who did work him out didn't find out something that the Clippers will wish they knew.  It seems that some players slide every year - often the slide eventually proves unjustified (Paul Pierce, Caron Butler).  But sometimes there's a good reason (off the top of my head, I'm going to the WABAC machine to pull out Roy Tarpley and William Bedford).  If the Clippers do end up with Wright, originally a top 10 projection in a deep draft, there will be elation for the time being.  After all, we did OK with another versatile Jayhawk forward a few years back.

Thompson (and only Thompson) seems convinced that the Clippers will take any of the top three point guards available at 14, including Crittendon.  I hope he's wrong.  Of course it's a mistake to judge players by individual games they've played, and in that sense I'm certain that Acie Law's value is a little inflated from the NCAA tournament game he played against Memphis, while Crittendon's is depressed by his performance against Vegas.  But still - a 19 year old point guard who had trouble making the correct point guard decisions in college?  Back to my earlier point, there's NO WAY Javaris Crittendon helps the Clippers this season.  No way.  So now you ask yourself if he's a better perimeter player than Wright or Nick Young or his Tech teammate Thaddeus Young.

Back to the point guard situation for a moment.  It was certainly encouraging to hear Sam Cassell talking about feeling good, talking about playing 75 games.  Obviously, it's only what you'd expect him to say.  But still, it's good to hear.  I've mentioned before that Sam's 06-07 numbers are eerily similar to his 04-05 numbers, his last season in Minnesota.  Why did Minnesota trade Sam AND a future first rounder for Marko Jaric?  Because pretty much EVERYBODY thought that coming off an injury-plagued season, and turning 36 before the next season began, that Sam was done.  He defied those predictions in 2005.  Is it any less likely that he'll defy the exact same predictions in 2007?  Sure he's two years older, which works against him.  But he's also done this before, which works for him.  

I'm going to remain an optimist and hope that Sam Cassell will be bounce back again.  I'm a Clipper fan.  I'm nothing if not optimistic.