The Clippers don’t have any draft picks this year. However, Doc Rivers has been bringing in players for workouts, and there is a possibility he buys a pick in the mid-late 2nd round for cash (there are usually a few cases of that every year). Even if the Clippers don’t get an actual pick, there are still undrafted free agents, which are especially relevant this year because of the Clippers’ fledgling G-League team, the Agua Caliente Clippers, and the two-way contracts specified in the new CBA. The Clippers are going to be looking at players for Summer League and training camp at the very least, though ideally a youngster or two makes the actual roster.
Point guard is, of course, the position Chris Paul plays, and there isn’t much room for minutes behind him. Lucas has already looked at some veteran point guards to fill the backup role for the team, but re-signing Raymond Felton might be the Clippers’ best bet. David Michineau, the Clippers’ second round pick in the 2016 draft, is probably coming stateside for the 2017 season (G-League, most likely), but there’s a strong possibility that he won’t be ready for NBA minutes yet. In any case, there is no third point guard on the roster, and such a spot is perfect for a prospect. There are 11 point guard prospects on Draft Express’ top 100 list who might be available from the mid-2nd round (pick 40) on, quite a few of whom probably will not be drafted. Here is a quick summary of the list and their statistics, going roughly in their projected draft order. As in all my draft pieces, if they have played two or more years in college, the numbers shown are the average of their last two seasons.
2017 PG Prospects.csv
|George de Paula||21.1||10.8||4.1||4.2||1.2||0.4||2.1||1.2||0.505|
I posited in my article last week that steals, rebounds, three point makes, and true shooting are the college stats that correlate most highly with NBA success. With that said, here are the best players in these categories from this class (leaving aside de Paula, who is an international player from Brazil).
Top 3 in steals: Monte Morris, Derrick Walton, Nigel Williams-Goss
Top 3 in rebounds: Williams-Goss, Isaiah Briscoe, Walton
Top 3 in three point makes: Walton, Melo Trimble, Frank Mason
Top 3 in TS%: Mason, Walton, Trimble
Derrick Walton is the best point guard prospect that might be available to the Clippers. He’s a leader in all the important categories, while no other player appears in more than two. Walton has already worked out for the Clips, so Doc Rivers clearly has an eye on him, and I can personally vouch for his leadership, personality, and overall playing ability (he spent the last four years at the University of Michigan, as did I). He’s also worked out for a bunch of other teams, and while he’s currently projected to be undrafted, I’d be surprised if that ended up being the case.
Other players of note are Frank Mason, the star senior from the University of Kansas, Melo Trimble, a junior from Maryland, Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga), and Monte Morris (Iowa State). Mason and Trimble are three point gunners and overall scorers who should be able to be sparkplugs off the bench in the NBA, though they might play more as undersized two-guards than true points. Williams-Goss is a bigger point guard who has some scoring and playmaking tools, but he’s not particularly great at anything, and I’m wary of his translation to the NBA. Morris is probably the most traditional of the point guards, and his fantastic steal rate is a great sign. He’s another player who might end up going a bit higher than his projection, as he seems like a good bet to be at least a rotation point guard in the NBA.
Now, here are the bottom players at each of the most important statistical categories:
Bottom 3 steals: Kobi Simmons, Briscoe, TJ Williams
Bottom 3 rebounds: Simmons, Williams, Trimble
Bottom 3 three point makes: Briscoe, Edmond Sumner, Kadeem Allen
Bottom 3 TS%: Sumner, Briscoe, Simmons
Unfortunately, the same players show up repeatedly in these categories. For Simmons, this is mostly due to lack of playing time (I don’t adjust for that), but it’s still unsettling to see a player with such little college experience heading to the professional level. Simmons is the youngest of the potential picks by far, however, so he has theoretical “upside”. While Briscoe has nice rebounding numbers, he was a horribly inefficient college scorer with an anemic steal rate. Such stats really don’t bode well for any potential NBA future, despite his Kentucky pedigree. Sumner has decent overall point guard numbers, but he was the least efficient scorer in the group. He also had an extensive injury history in college, which can be viewed as a good (didn’t play to full capacity) or bad (injury-prone) thing. Scouts like his athleticism quite a bit, though the numbers aren’t very favorable.
Finally, there’s de Paula, an international prospect who had quite a bit of buzz a couple years ago, when it appeared he was going into the draft. He didn’t, and that looks to be a huge mistake on his part, as he’s now projected to go undrafted. De Paula’s numbers are actually quite solid for a young player in a professional league, but the Brazilian league isn’t exactly the highest quality, and he no longer has extreme youth on his side. He’s intriguing, at the least, and some of his highlights are quite impressive (though aren’t they all?).
“Blue-Chip” Stock: Derrick Walton
Solid Prospects: Frank Mason, Monte Morris, Melo Trimble
Avoid: Isaiah Briscoe