Next Thurdsay, the 26th, is the NBA draft. It's always a lot of fun to see the traditions carried out: booing the commissioner, the Cavs picking #1, etc. It's also less fun in the past few years for Clippers fans than it has been historically, but I think that we're okay with that.
Several years removed from their last lottery pick, the Clippers have the 28th overall pick this year (I'm not sure, but I would be surprised if this wasn't the latest pick in franchise history). The team will not have their second round pick, which has ended up with the Spurs after the Clippers traded it to the Hornets for a certain point guard. That's right, LAC is finally paying the price for Bobby Brown, who they acquired back in January of 2010. It's a good thing that second round picks aren't worth much: the Clippers will be missing picks in the next few years that were the price paid for players like Hassan Adams, Rasual Butler (who actually contributed!), Alex Acker and Cheikh Samb back in the day.
It's hard to pin exactly what the Clippers greatest need is in this draft. At point guard and both big positions, they will likely be in major need of backups (assuming Darren Collison and Glen Davis opt out). At small forward, the Clippers enjoy a relatively strong amount of depth, but lack a real impact player. The main off-season goal would seem to be upgrading the starting SF slot, but it's practically impossible to acquire an impact starter for a contender at the end of the first round. That acquisition will have to come in a trade or free agency, and it seems far more likely that Doc Rivers and new general manager Dave Wohl will use the pick on either a backup PG or C.
The pundits seem to agree. Check below for a roundup of some mock drafts.
- DraftExpress.com: Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson is a 6'5", 22 year old combo guard from Missouri. Clarkson has good size and can play both guard spots, but he struggled from deep, shooting only 28% from three last year. Scouting video: <script height="363px" width="644px" src="http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.js#pbid=23b69841d9454479a6f4fcf4a8514588&ec=V5NTA5bjoWy3e8rnVph8an0filTxhk_U"></script>
- Yahoo! Sports: Mitch McGary. The 22 year old 6'10" center from Michigan only played 8 games his sophomore year after suffering a back injury, and tested positive for marijuana in March. McGary is a solid big man whose rebounding and defensive abilities will translate to the NBA, but he lacks upside.
- SportingNews.com: DeAndre Kane. It's almost hard to take this projection seriously, as most people seem to have Kane, the 24 year old 6'4" combo guard from Iowa State, as an undrafted free agent. It's possible, however, that the Clippers could look to add Kane on their summer league roster and give him a shot to make the team.
- SBNation: Cory Jefferson. He's projected lower in most mocks and draft boards, but here he's listed as a potential third big option. Jefferson measured at 6'9" with a 7'0.5" wingspan, and he started to expand his range during his senior season, shooting about 37% on a small sample size. He's not a dead-eye shooter, but he's getting better. Still, the 23 year old PF seems like a reach this early in the draft.