Not every second round pick, and very few in the final five picks in the draft, gets a guaranteed NBA contract before training camp. However, the Los Angeles Clippers liked Branden Dawson enough to buy the 56th pick from the New Orleans Pelicans when they saw that Dawson was still on the board, and then all he did was go to the Orlando Summer League and make Fran Blinebury's list of Top 10 performers on NBA.com (most of the others on the list were lottery picks).
The Clippers today signed Dawson to a two year deal, with the first year being guaranteed. Here's the press release from the team:
The L.A. Clippers announced today the team has signed forward Branden Dawson. The Clippers acquired the rights to the 56th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft in a draft night trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Dawson, 22, appeared in four of the Clippers games at the recently completed Orlando Summer League and averaged 12.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in 25.5 minutes. Dawson finished second in the league in rebounds per game and recorded a double-double in three of his four appearances.
The former Michigan State stand-out was a Second-Team All-Big Ten performer in his final season with the Spartans, averaging 11.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 32 games.
Dawson (6'6", 225), finished his four-year collegiate career as the school's all-time leader in blocks (142), fifth in starts (121), sixth in steals (163) and seventh in rebounds (902). He is one of three players in MSU history with 1,000 career points and 100 career blocks, joining Draymond Green and Adreian Payne.
A star at Lew Wallace High School in Gary, Indiana, Dawson was a 2011 McDonald's All-American after averaging 28.7 points, 18.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists.
The rebounding numbers in Orlando were really, really impressive, and it's worth asking whether Dawson is capable of playing four in small ball lineups. He's not big, but that doesn't seem to keep him from gobbling up rebounds.
He's not much of a shooter, and clearly he'll need to develop at least a corner three to play the three in the NBA. But he appears to have a great motor and he's got plenty of length to play the wing.
Doc Rivers does not exactly have a great track record playing rookies in the NBA -- let alone second round picks. The team could really use some youth and some inexpensive contributions, so here's hoping that Dawson can sniff some playing time this season. If he can actually produce, so much the better.