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The Day After Christmas

Let the second guessing begin....

I told the ClipperWife yesterday that the NBA Draft is blogger Christmas.  We look forward to it all year, we get presents delivered by mythical beings (Santa/David Stern), we drink egg nog (maybe that's just me).  And today is the day after Christmas, when you wonder what could have gone wrong, how Santa could possibly have misunderstood your letter so badly, how 'BB Gun' could ever be mistaken for 'Book'.  

Well, you know what?  Try as I might, I can't find a lot wrong with what the Clippers did yesterday.  

They needed a point guard and a wing.  They got a wing who was the leading scorer in the ACC with the 14th pick.  They got a point guard who led the nation in assists for two consecutive years with the 45th pick.  What's to second guess?

Even if you play the 'who was available?' game, they come out looking good.  At 14, the only reasonable choices on the board were Thornton, Nick Young and Javaris Crittendon (to fill the point guard need).  The 23 year old Thornton, two classes away from his college degree in Social Sciences (that's Social Sciences, a real degree, not your usual NCAA Sports Marketing crap), is easily the most NBA-ready of the three, and the best scorer of the three as well.  If the Clippers had opted for him simply because he was a senior, eschewing more talented underclassmen, it might have felt a little like the practical gift of socks and underwear versus the fun gift of a remote control car.  But this guy's practical AND fun - call him our new bike.

I've mentioned before that the Clippers did not have Thornton in for a workout.  As it happens, there were scheduling conflicts, but the team was not picking blind.  According to Art Thompson in the OC Register, MDsr and others in the Clippers leadership had other chances both to interview Thornton and to see him work out.

The Clippers tried but were unable to bring Thornton in for a private workout. However, Dunleavy, Baylor and Neil Olshey, the Clippers' director of player personnel, came away impressed after a three-hour dinner meeting earlier this month with Thornton at the NBA's pre-draft camp in Orlando. Through the efforts of Thornton's agent, Bill Duffy, Dunleavy and assistant coach Kim Hughes were able to attend Thornton's workout Wednesday in Phoenix with the Suns.
MDsr and EB1 seem genuinely thrilled to have gotten him at 14.  Words like jubilant and elated were thrown around with the same frequency as synonyms for disappointing were used back in April.  

As for Jordan at 45, I've been touting this pick for almost a month, so of course I'm not about to second guess it.  The reality of second round picks is that he's a long shot to make the team, as would be the case for anyone they took here.  (Neil Olshey was asked if he thought Jordan could make the team and he replied "That's the plan.")  As it happens, two highly regarded, better known, big conference point guards (Zabian Dowdell and Taurean Green) were on the board when the Clippers took Jordan.  It's certainly possible that one of those guys could end up having a better pro career, but my money is on Jordan.

We all have a tendency to devalue the statistics of guys who play in small conferences, but leading the nation in assists is leading the nation in assists.  And quite frankly, it doesn't make it easier to rack up assists playing on a bad team, if you think about it.  There are of course the positive comparisons to undersized point guards from small conferences (John Stockton of Gonzaga, Steve Nash of Santa Clara, Avery Johnson of Southern - the last player to lead the nation in assists two straight years).  But I'm also reminded of a second round pick in last year's draft who led the nation in rebounding playing in a small conference.  His name is Paul Millsapp, and it turns out, if you are a great rebounder in college, you are likely to be a great rebounder in the pros.  I think the same is true, probably more true, for passers.  

For what it's worth, the early reviews agree that the Clippers did well.  Chad Ford gave them an A- (he handed out one A+ and three A's).