Check out the Clippers top rookie point guards here.
Check out the Clippers top rookie shooting guards here.
Check out the Clippers top rookie centers here.
#3 - Tyrone Nesby (1998-99)
Key Stats: 10.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.5spg, 44.9%fg, 36.5%3pt, 36 games started
It’s not very often that an undrafted rookie plays much in his rookie season. The fact that Nesby played in all 50 games of the lockout shortened 1998-99 NBA season, starting 36 of those games, is either attributed to his great play as a rookie, or the lack of talent on the Clippers roster. A quick look at the Clippers roster would lead many to think that Nesby was just that good as a rookie.
Entering the 98-99 season, the Clippers roster had two small forwards with plenty of NBA starting experience, and one rookie small forward who went undrafted out of UNLV. For the first 13 games of the season, Rodney Rogers and Lamond Murray shared the starting SF duties, while Nesby played a role off the bench. For Nesby, his break started in the 11th game of the season, scoring 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench. Three games later, he would move into the starting lineup, and remain there for the remainder of the season. As a starter, he would average 11.7 points per game, with 4 games over 20 points, including a 30 points on the last game of the season.
#2 - Lamond Murray (1994-95)
Draft: 1994 1st Round, 7th Overall, Los Angeles Clippers
Key Stats: 14.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.6apg, 40.2%fg, 29.8%3pt, 61 games started
Murray joined the Clippers as a scoring small forward after averaging over 19 points per game during his three years at Cal. The Clippers had just missed the playoffs after a 2 year back-to-back playoff run, and were ranked 22nd out of 27 NBA teams in offensive rating. The Clippers hoped that Murray would become a focal offensive option for the team, in hopes of returning to the playoffs.
Murray had a solid rookie year, and after 16 games coming off the bench, he was given his chance as a starter. Although he shot poorly his first game as a starter (35%), he helped out in other ways, and continued to start at small forward the remainder of the season, except for a few games towards the end of the season.
Before we get to the number one rookie small forward in LA Clippers history, here are a couple honorable mentions:
Darius Miles (2000-01)
Draft: 2000 1st Round, 3rd Overall, Los Angeles Clippers
Key Stats: 9.4ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.2apg, 50.5%fg, 21 games started
At the time he was drafted, Darius Miles, the young high school star out of East St. Louis, was the highest drafted player straight out of high school. The promising youngster was given an opportunity to start in his very first NBA game, as a 6’9” shooting guard. After 5 games as a starter in which he only had one solid game (15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), he was moved to the bench, where he would spend most of the season, except for a 14 game stretch in January. During that stretch, he averaged 11.4 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.
Miles would be named to the 2000-01 NBA All-Rookie 1st team, alongside Marc Jackson, Kenyon Martin, Mike Miller, and Morris Peterson. He would also build a famous friendship with fellow rookie Quentin Richardson, one that would create the world famous “head tap” after great plays.
Ken Norman (1987-88)
Draft: 1987 1st Round, 19th Overall, Los Angeles Clippers
Key Stats: 8.6ppg, 4rpg, 1.2apg, 48.2%fg, 28 games started
The 1987-88 Clippers did not have a solid choice for starting small forward. In fact, the only player on the roster with any NBA experience was Kenny Fields who had joined the Clippers the previous season from the Milwaukee Bucks. In the 1987 NBA draft, 3 of the Clippers top 4 picks, all in rounds 1 & 2, were small forwards. Norman was one of those, along with 4th overall pick Reggie Williams, and 38th overall pick Norris Coleman.
The thought was that Williams would become the starting small forward, and one of the other rookies would be the backup. Each of the rookies were given chances to succeed, with Williams starting 14, Coleman 11, an Norman 28 games. Of the three, Norman was given the most opportunity, and due to this, played in 66 games his rookie season. The Clippers though, would suffer one of their worst seasons as a franchise, winning only 17 games.
#1 - Lamar Odom (1999-2000)
Draft: 1999 1st Round, 4th Overall, Los Angeles Clippers
Key Stats: 16.6ppg, 7.8rpg, 4.2apg, 1.2spg, 43.8%fg, 36%3pt, 70 games started
After being drafted 4th by the Clippers in the 1999 NBA draft, Lamar Odom exploded onto the NBA scene in his first game. In that game, he had 30 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, while playing 44 minutes in a Clippers loss. Although the team lost the game, Odom had Clippers fans more excited for the future than they had been in a long time. Odom kept up the excitement, scoring in double digits in his first 19 games. His all-around play, along with his height and court vision, even brought out some early comparisons to Magic Johnson.
Odom had what has to be considered one of the best rookie seasons in not just LA Clippers history, but franchise history. The season was so good that, as a rookie on one of the least popular teams in the league, Odom received 248,176 all-star votes, which put him 8th for forwards. That is quite an accomplishment. Part of the popularity of Odom was his great November, where he won Rookie of the Month, while averaging 18.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals,and 1.2 blocks, while shooting 45% from the field, and 34% from downtown. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie 1st team, alongside future Clippers teammates Elton Brand and Andre Miller, along with Steve Francis and Wally Szczerbiak.
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 power forwards in LA Clippers history.