The 2016 NBA Draft will be one of the craziest in recent memory. The mock drafts and big boards are EVERYWHERE, and it's likely that certain prospects' range could span from the lottery to the mid-second round. Even guys who are known commodities have wide ranges, from the lottery to the late first round, or from the teens to the 30s.
As a result, I've scouted a ton of prospects over the last few weeks for the Clippers' selections at 25 and 33--something like 38 players. Even after all that, I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up not covering one of their selections--it's just that kind of draft. Now that we've taken that big-picture focus and looked at all of the options, let's break it down and see who will really be available, and who the Clippers should actually pick.
Now, the following 12 players (in no particular order) are essentially guaranteed to be lottery picks. One or two might slide out, but they're probably too high profile to make it into the late teens (where the Clippers could try to trade for a pick), and they definitely won't make it into the 20s: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Dragan Bender, Buddy Heild, Marquese Chriss, Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, Deyonta Davis, Jakob Poeltl, Henry Ellenson. Now, I don't think that these guys will necessarily be the top 12 picks, but they'll be something like 12 of the top 14 or 15.
If you're on board with that, we can move onto the next clump of guys. Even though they're in tiers within this group, I've settled on another grouping of 12--this time I'll put them in order:
13. Domantas Sabonis
14. Denzel Valentine
15. Timothe Luwawu
16. Wade Baldwin
17. Furkan Korkmaz
18. Taurean Prince
19. Demetrius Jackson
20. DeAndre Bembry
21. Brice Johnson
22. Ante Zizic
23. Tyler Ulis
24. Damian Jones
Most of those guys are high-floor players woken very easily be envisioned as first-year contributors in small roles. Those that don't figure to be immediate contributors have serious upside (or trade value for the Clippers to nab a veteran).
The bad news is that after those 24, there figures to be a drop off for the Clippers' purposes. The good news is that those 24 players are almost certain to not end up being the first 24 selections--one or two will slip as teams take gambles on players such as Thon Maker and Malachi Richardson, or look for draft-and-stash prospects such as Juan Hernangomez, Petr Cornelie, Ivica Zubac, or Zhou Qi. At worst, the Clippers should be looking at 1 or 2 of the players from the bottom half of the second list as their best options at 25. If they're picking between Tyler Ulis and Ante Zizic, it might not be sexy, but it'll be pretty decent depth at the bottom half of the first round. My bet would be that of Jackson, Bembry, Johnson, Zizic, Ulis, and Jones, at least 2 will be available at 25.
If the Clippers trade up to a pick in the teens, they might be able to do even better than that. I'd bet on one of Luwawu, Sabonis, and Valentine sliding into the 16-17-18 range, which is the high end of potential Clippers trade targets. If those guys are gone, or if the Clippers don't love them, it probably isn't worth trading up. The only other reason to trade up would be of the team really falls in love with one of the other guys in the second group, and wants to trade up to ensure they get him. Otherwise, I'd be pretty content with taking who fell at 25--it seems preferable to losing the chance to take a shot in the dark at 33, where a potential role player could still be found in players like Malcolm Brogdon, Patrick McCaw, Gary Payton II and A.J. Hammons, plus potential reaches like Caris LeVert, Jake Layman, Dorian Finney-Smith, and plenty of others.