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NBA Draft 2016: NCAA Big Men Targets for the Clippers to Consider (Part 2)

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The Clippers' range of the draft is full of centers who could be possible depth selections with either pick 25 or 33.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, we're going to look at a ton of possible selections.  We already looked at Damian Jones, Cheick Diallo, and Brice Johnson, and today, we're going to look at more big men from the NCAA that should be options for the Clippers.

With Cole Aldrich prone to leave in free agency, and the Clippers lacking center depth aside from D-League call-ups, this could be a great opportunity for them to find a short-term band-aid or long-term project at backup C.  Please note that analysis of these players is largely secondhand after reading and watching scout video from a variety of sources (mainly those listed in the tables), and then compiling and summarizing.

Diamond Stone

Projections:
Source Draft Express Mock Draft Express Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Tankathon.com Mock
Ranking 33 33 Not 1st Round 40 Not 1st Round 23

Similar to Damian Jones, Stone is a true inside C.  He scored 12.5 points and pulled down 5.4 rebounds for Maryland last year as a freshman in 23.1 minutes per game.  His lack of versatility is what's causing him to drop in most mocks, as he doesn't do much outside of the point on either end, but he's very solid inside.  Unfortunately, his limitations include face-up defense and pick-and-roll defense, which are pretty crucial even at the C position.  At 19 years old, his size and strength could be worth a long-term gamble at 33.  As long as he can finish inside and hold his own on the glass, he might even be able to play some big-body spot minutes as a rookie, although I wouldn't call it a safe bet.

Stephen Zimmerman

Projections:
Source Draft Express Mock Draft Express Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Tankathon.com Mock
Ranking 35 35 Not 1st Round 34 30 Not 1st Round

I played against Zimmerman on our AAU teams when we were in high school, and at the time everyone thought he'd be a lottery pick.  At 7' tall, he was athletic and skilled, defending at the rim, hitting threes, and scoring off the dribble (even against the McDonalds All-American C on my team).  He chose to go to school at his hometown school, UNLV (he's from Los Vegas and went to Bishop Gorman High School), and had a disappointing freshman campaign, scoring just 10.5 points per game and pulling down 8.7 rebounds per game in the less-than-elite Mountain West Conference.  DraftExpress suggests that this could be due to some questionable coaching decisions, as Zimmerman was put on the block and wasn't frequently playing in space to fully utilize his skill set.

Unlike the other big men that we've looked at, Zimmerman shows good potential as a floor spacer, hitting 50% of his corner threes in college and shooting in the mid-high 40's and 50's from the mid-range zones (O'Connor shot chart).  He isn't a full-on sharpshooter and he struggles from above the break, but he could be able to expand his range.  His weaknesses are those that often pair with being a shooter: somewhat weak down low, and somewhat slow on defense.  How well Zimmerman performs in pre-draft workouts, showcasing his shot and trying to strengthen his defensive reputation, could determine whether or not he is a first-round pick.  I'd be a little wary of taking him at 25 given the failure of the Spencer Hawes experiment, but he could be available at 33 and, in theory, his rim protection could complement Blake Griffin's game at the 4 while his spacing could complement DeAndre Jordan's inside dominance.  At the same time, his shot could not translate and his defense could be bad, making him bad no matter who he's playing alongside.

A.J. Hammons

Projections:
Source Draft Express Mock Draft Express Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Tankathon.com Mock
Ranking 42 42 Not 1st Round 27 29 Not 1st Round

Hammons is yet another example of expert disagreement proving the unpredictability of this draft class.  He meshes a big, interior body akin to Jones and Stones' with an effective shot, where he hit 54.5% in his senior year including 60% from the right wing.  The sample size on that three-point percentage is tragically small, but he's shown signs of being an effective shooter from the mid-range, even though NBA three range is a long-shot.  He's nothing special defensively, but his size, frame, and length are enough to make him solid as a center.

Unfortunately, he's got some serious issues too.  He's not a super cerebral player, and he's been suspended for off-court issues as well as benched for on-court inconsistency and lack of effort, per O'Connor.  He's also going to be 24 in August, putting a potential developmental timeline years behind the other big men available in this range.  If you look at him as a polished offensive player and think the mental issues can be corrected to fix his effort and defensive engagement issues, then he's a first-round choice who can make an impact on both ends.  If you look at him as a good-but-needs-work big man who's already two years older than other college seniors and has had a ton of mental issues, it's easy to see how he slides to becoming just a mid-second-round shot in the dark.

His potential as a Clipper pick will depend a lot on workouts and interviews.  How confident are Doc Rivers and the front office in his mindset?  A positive view makes him very pickable at 25, a negative view makes him undraftable, and a central view might put him right in the conversation when pick 33 goes on the clock.