Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster, the NBA Draft is Thursday! What the hell have we been spending our time on around Clips Nation this past month if not the Draft? (Oh, that's right, I remember now.) About a week ago, it seemed likely that the Clippers wouldn't even have a pick this season. But now the Clippers have a coach, and they have a pick (25th in the draft) and it's time to obsess about the draft -- for two whole days.
Doc Rivers is not just the coach of the Clippers -- according to Mark Heisler, he also has full control of basketball operations. So he has about 48 hours from his arrival in L.A. to a draft decision -- in other words, he needs to get up to speed on the needs of the team and Gary Sacks' current thinking pronto. By the way, I would suggest that you not take Heisler's rumor of Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler to Orlando for Arron Afflalo too seriously at this point -- that rumor predates Rivers with the Clippers, and until we know how he feels about an Orlando trade (and supposedly he likes Bledsoe a lot) it has little relevance.
The Clippers, as of this point, have the same starting lineup that started most of their games last season (assuming free agent to be Chris Paul re-signs which is a foregone conclusion at this point with Rivers on board) and they also have two of the best backcourt reserves in the league in Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford. But the nature of the NBA is that if you're not improving then other teams are passing you, so it's safe to say that the Clippers could use an upgrade, either in the starting lineup or in reserve, at pretty much every position. Even at point guard, where the team currently has Paul and Bledsoe, they'll likely need a backup if trade chip Bledsoe is moved before the start of the season.
So the Clippers could certainly look to pick the proverbial "best player available" on Thursday -- but while recognizing that they have needs at every spot, their biggest problems would seem to be at the wings, where Willie Green and Caron Butler were adequate but underwhelming last season. Plus, you can never have too many shooters, an adage that seems particularly true in the NBA in 2013.
There will likely be some interesting prospects available at 25. High risk/high reward players who had issues in college like Tony Mitchell (scouting report) and Ricky Ledo (scouting report) might be available -- or the Clippers could play it safer with a "name" pick (literally an NBA name) like Tim Hardaway, Jr. (scouting report). Allen Crabbe (scouting report), Jamaal Franklin (scouting report), Reggie Bullock (scouting report) and Tony Snell (scouting report) are all players that could fill the Clippers need on the wing if they decide to go that way. Who remains available at 25 is another question. Citizen FlyByKnight gave us his scouting reports on several of these wings directly after the Draft Combine a few weeks back.
With the Clippers in possession of a major trade chip in Bledsoe, one possible route would be to shop him for a lottery pick. I would assume that they are exploring those options, especially if the best veterans they can get are Afflalo and Danny Granger. I think the Clippers would prefer to deal Bledsoe for an established player who can have an impact, but if those deals aren't there, might they consider staying young with his roster spot but finding a player who is a better fit? I seriously doubt they'll trade him for a pick, but it's a sub plot to keep an eye on.
My money is still on Crabbe -- I just think he's a good fit. He's got great size and length, he's a terrific shooter with limitless range, I think he'll be there, and the fact that he's an L.A. guy puts it over the top for me. We'll see. Crabbe did not work out for the Clippers (probably because of a foot injury) which may hurt his stock with the team.