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NBA Draft 2016: Four Prizes the Clippers Should Target

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All four of these guys would have to drop, but they'd all be stud selections at 25.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks leading up to the draft, we're going to go through a bunch of possible selections.  Today: my four favorite possibilities at 25, even though all would have to fall for the Clippers to take them.  These are the 4 guys who I feel good about as impact players in their rookie year, and all of them have potential to slide to 25, or at least into the 20s where the Clippers could attempt to trade up and get them.  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.

Timothe Luwawu

Projections:
Source DraftExpress Mock DraftExpress Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Tankathon.com Mock
Ranking 15 14 12 11 15 10

Obviously, this doesn't look good for the Clippers, who don't pick until 25.  However, recent reports since the combine indicate that his stock isn't as high as had been previously indicated.  In some mocks, I've seen him as low as 26, and defending on how pre-draft workouts go, it's starting to look not-so-crazy for him to drop into the 20s.

Luwawu stands at 6'7" and is coming off of a good year playing in Europe for Mega Leks.  He's a potential 3-and-D wing, shooting 37% from deep last season, and he has superb athleticism (just watch some of his youtube videos).  His one-on-one offensive game and off-ball defense are concerns, but at 25 he would have the potential to play right away if he were to come to the NBA this year (there's still some uncertainty as to whether or not he is a stash prospect).

Domantas Sabonis

Projections:
Source DraftExpress Mock DraftExpress Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Tankathon Mock
Ranking 17 17 15 12 14 18

Sabonis projects to be just out of the Clippers' range, but I absolutely love him as a prospect, and his decision to sit out of the combine and control what teams he works out for (and allows to medically examine him) could engineer a drop.  He could be the best big man in the draft, given his shooting ability and inside skill.  He's had some big recent tournament performances, besting Jakob Poeltl this year (projected to be a top-10 pick).  That said, his NBA defense is going to be a concern, as he doesn't really have the size or athleticism to protect the rim.  Sabonis isn't likely to be an All-Star player, but his skill set seems very safe for a long and healthy NBA career as a role player.  Unfortunately, his workout schedule suggests that he believes his range will be between 9 and 16--if the Clippers trade up into the mid-teens, they could nab him, and his lack of workouts for teams later in the first round could facilitate a slide if he's still on the board when Boston's pick passes.

Taurean Prince

Projections:
Source DraftExpress Mock DraftExpress Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Tankathon Mock
Ranking 18 18 18 19 18 19

The least sure of the three, but most likely to be available, Prince is about as good of a gamble as the Clippers can reasonably hope to take if they're looking for SF help at pick 25.  He'd have to slide just a little bit, or the Clips would have to trade up, but both are feasible.  He was a solid (not great) three-point shooter in college at 39.5% his junior year and 36.1% his senior year, and his defensive abilities should translate into effective NBA play.  The rest of his game is shaky, but it's not unreasonable to think that he could be serviceable at a 3-and-D small forward as a rookie--possibly similar to Wesley Johnson last year.

Denzel Valentine

Projections:
Source DraftExpress Mock DraftExpress Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Tankathon Mock
Ranking 23 12 16 6 7 15

Valentine was originally presumed to be WAY out of range for the Clippers, but some slides in recent DraftExpress mocks warrant a mention.  He's fallen from being consistently in the bottom half of lotteries to out of the lottery and as deep as the 20s.  Valentine projects more as a 2 than a 3, but his size and versatility would make for really intriguing three-guard lineups off of the bench, and he possesses the play-now skill and long-term upside to be an incredible pick this late in the draft.  He'd have to be a target if the Clippers were to decide to trade up.

While Valentine might not be a dream fit to slide into the starting small forward spot, he's a dead-eye shooter (44.4% on a high volume) who's a really good passer and rebounder (7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game).  He could initiate the offense in a three-guard bench lineup with Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford, and serve as a high-level floor spacer from day one.