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NBA Draft 2016: The Clippers Have Options at Backup PG

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If the Clippers decide to look for a young lead guard in the draft, they'll have options at both 25 and 33.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks leading up to the draft, we're going to look at a lot of possible selections.  Today: potential backup PG options.  The Clippers presently have Austin Rivers playing backup point guard, but he's somewhat out of position alongside Jamal Crawford.  Doc Rivers also used Pablo Prigioni part-time, and while he was solid, the Clippers could definitely use a younger upgrade for point guard depth.  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.

Demetrius Jackson

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 17 16 17 18 20 23

Jackson's projections put him as a little bit of a stretch for the Clippers at 25, but it isn't unusual for players projected in the mid-late teens to slide, especially at PG, which could be the NBA's deepest position.  Jackson is energetic and athletic and seems to be a safe choice at at least a decent backup PG for spot minutes.  He's undersized (6'0" without shoes at the combine), which limits his versatility and defensive impact against larger guards.  Normally, however, he has a good defensive reputation.  His three-point shooting fell off from 43% his sophomore year to 33% his junior year, likely due to an increased role, which suggests that he could be a capable shooter in the NBA.

Tyler Ulis

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 24 19 24 27 24 20

Ulis looks to be right on the fringe of reality as a possibility at 25, with several outlets putting him in the 20s. With Jackson and Wade Baldwin (both likely to be picked in the mid-late teens) ahead of him on most PG rankings, he could be left on the board.  He's a really good all-around PG whose stock is hampered by his size--he stood at just 5'8.75" at the combine without shoes.  Ulis is a very good and fast ball handler and passer, and he has good shot mechanics, but his size will always limit him.  If he gets matched up against big, athletic, strong point guards, his skills and smarts might not be enough.  Either way, he projects as a solid, energetic back-up, if nothing more, and that's what the Clippers need.  Who knows: he might follow in Isaiah Thomas' footsteps as a tiny star.

DeJounte Murray

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 32 Not 1st Round 30 Not 1st Round 24

Murray would seem to be a possibility at both 25 and 33, depending on how the Clippers feel about him.  If he shows out in pre-draft workouts, they might reach for him and give him a look.  He's much larger than both Jackson and Ulis, showing potential as a combo guard at 6'5" with a 6'10" wingspan.  The trade-off is that he's much less of a "point guard", seen as having an inconsistent handle and passing ability.  He's also a largely inefficient scorer and very poor defender.  O'Connor describes him as "years away from being an NBA player", and that's probably to be expected with a hyper-athletic guy this late in the draft.

Gary Payton II

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 48 48 Not 1st Round 26 29 49

Payton is a great example of the wide variance in projection after the early picks of the draft.  This draft class is seen to be rich with potential role players deep in the first round and into the second, but not all of them are going to pan out--and experts are largely torn in their rankings.  Jonathan Givony (DraftExpress) and Kevin O'Connor are my two most trusted go-to reads for draft analysis--and Givony has Payton as a deep reach for the Clippers' #33 pick while O'Connor has him off the board before their #25 selection.  At 6'3" with a 6'7" wingspan, Payton has very good size and athleticism that could project well defensively.  That said, he's not a great creator offensively and doesn't have a reliable shot percentage-wise.

The Clippers had Payton in for a workout on May 25th, which shows that he's at least on their radar.