#3 - Quentin Richardson (2000-01)
Draft: 2000 1st Round, 18th Overall, Los Angeles Clippers
Key Stats: 8.1ppg, 3.4rpg, 44%fg, 33%3pt, 28 games started
The 2000-01 Clippers spent the entire season looking for their starting shooting guard, with Quentin Richardson receiving a 28 game audition early in the season, after Tyrone Nesby failed to secure the job. As a starter, Richardson scored 10 points per game, while shooting 43%. Unfortunately, he was not able to hold on to the starting spot, and sharp shooting Eric Piatkowski got his shot as the starter.
Q would have solid numbers for a rookie, scoring 8 points while grabbing 3.4 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game. His best rookie game came on Dec. 15, 2000, when he scored 21 points, including 4 for 4 from three, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 assists.
#2 - Brent Barry (1995-96)
Draft: 1995 1st Round, 15th Overall, Denver Nuggets, Traded to Clippers (with Rodney Rogers) for Antonio McDyess and Randy Woods
Key Stats: 10.1ppg, 2.9apg, 1.2spg, 2.1rpg, 47%fg, 42%3pt, 44 games started
Brent Barry's rookie season is best known for his participation in the Slam Dunk contest, where he became just the 3rd NBA player to convert a dunk from the free throw line in the contest, along with Michael Jordan and Julius Erving. The dunk would help ensure his victory in the contest.
That dunk overshadowed what was a solid rookie campaign for the second generation NBA player (his father was Rick Barry). Barry was a bright spot on a Clippers team that would win only 29 games. He got his first shot as a starter when he took over the starting point guard spot from Terry Dehere just 4 games into the season. He would start the next 11 games at the point, and the Clippers would win 6 of the 11 games he started.
But, Barry wasn't a true point guard. His skill allowed him to be productive, but his best possition was as a scorer. He got his chance as a starter again on Jan 19, 1996, this time at his natural position. He would start 27 straight games, and average 13 points per game, shooting 47% from the field, while making 60 3 pointers, shooting 43%. His season was capped with a place on the NBA All-Rookie second team.
Before we get to the number one rookie shooting guard in LA Clippers history, here are a few honorable mentions:
Tom Garrik (1988-89)
Draft: 1988 2nd Round, 45th Overall, Los Angeles Clippers
Key Stats: 6.4ppg, 3.4apg, 2.2rpg, 1.1spg, 49%fg, 20 games started
Tom Garrik was a key energy player for the 1988-89 Clippers that won only 21 games. What's even more impressive is that he was able to provide energy to the team, while the small home crowds (the Clippers averaged just under 7000 fans per game) struggled to do so. Garrik was able to play plenty of minutes due to injuries for the Clippers, and got to start 20 games, including 11 of the final 13 games. In those final 13 games, he averaged 9.2 points.
Quinton Ross (2004-05)
Key Stats: 5.1ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.4apg, 43%fg, 25%3pt, 19 games started
Stats will never show the contribution that Quinton Ross made to the Clippers during his 4 years with the club. The "other" Quinton, who played a season in Belgium after going undrafted out of SMU, broke into the NBA as a tough nosed defensive player. He was always the last option on offense, and always got the assignment of guarding the other teams best wing player.
Eric Piatkowski (1994-95)
Draft: 1994 1st Round, 15th Overall, Indiana Pacers, Traded to Clippers (with Pooh Richardson and Malik Sealy) for Mark Jackson and Greg Minor
Key Stats: 7ppg, 1.6rpg, 1apg, 44%fg, 37%3pt, 11 games started
Eric Piatkowski barely missed out on the top 3, and his lack of playing time in his rookie season didn't help his case. Playing most of the season behind starter Terry Dehere, Piatkowski was only able to average 15 minutes per game. His key attribute was his shooting, and he didn't disappoint in his rookie year, shooting 37% from behind the line. At the end of his rookie season, Piatkowski was given the reigns to the starting SG spot, starting 9 of the final 10 games, averaging 13 points, while shooting 45% from three.
#1 - Eric Gordon (2008-09)
Draft: 2008 1st Round, 7th Overall, Los Angeles Clippers
Key Stats: 16.1ppg, 2.8apg, 2.6rpg, 1spg, 46%fg, 39%3pt, 65 games started
Just as Gary Grant was the obvious choice at point guard, Eric Gordon was the obvious choice for top shooting guard. His stat line looks like that of a solid veteran shooting guard, and he was the only player on this list to be handed the reigns as a starter, and keep it. After coming off the bench for his first 13 games, Gordon took over as starter on November 24, 2008 (after the Clippers traded away starter Cuttino Mobley), and never looked back.
Throughout his rookie season, Clippers fans could see the potential, and had a player to be excited about for the future. Not only could he shoot, but he could also drive to the basket, and make a shot in traffic. He would end the season as the 3rd highest scorer (behind Zach Randolph and Al Thornton), while making a team high 131 3 pointers. He was the Western Conference Rookie of the Month in January 2009 (21ppg, 47 3pt made, 44% 3pt). He would end the season on the NBA All-Rookie 2nd team
Do you agree with our list? Is there someone we left out? Let us know in the comments, and check back next week for the top 3 rookie centers in LA Clippers history.