While the Clippers could use more point guard depth, the glaring weakness on their roster is at the wing positions (assuming Chris Paul and Blake Griffin return in free agency). Small forward has been a hole for the Clips throughout the entire Chris Paul era, and they might be at their lowest point right now heading into free agency. The only real wing on the roster is the underperforming Wes Johnson. Luc Mbah a Moute was terrific last season, but he’s 32 and a free agent. Draft picks such as Reggie Bullock, CJ Wilcox, and Branden Dawson have come and gone without making an impact. Paul Pierce has retired, and Alan Anderson might as well. The Clippers have some depth at shooting guard with Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers, but neither are starting level players, and the Clippers’ mainstay at the position, JJ Redick, is likely to leave in free agency. It’s time for some fresh blood.
The mid-late 2nd round and undrafted free agency is not a gold mine. The Clippers are not likely to pick up a star in that area, and even a rotation player would be a pleasant surprise. That said, plenty of solid players over the past few years have been found late in the draft, and this years’ draft is particularly deep in potential NBA players. Even if the players in question aren’t ready to play right away, the Clippers have room on their roster for another young player, especially with the two-way deals now in place. Also, as mentioned yesterday in my piece on point guards, the Clippers do need to fill out the D-League roster, and Summer League is a great place to try guys out. Without further ado, here are the wing players who might be available to the Clippers from the mid-2nd round on (through Draft Express’ top 80 players). As always, the numbers are the averages of the players’ last two seasons in college.
2017 Wing Prospects.csv
I wrote last week about how the most important stats to look at for college wings’ translation to the NBA are rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers, and age, with the first two being the most vital. Here is a look at the top performers in each category.
Top 5 rebounds: Damyean Dotson, Josh Hart, Jaron Blossomgame, Sindarius Thornwell, Malcolm Hill/Devin Robinson
Top 5 assists: Wesley Iwundu, Thornwell, Hill, Dillon Brooks, Sterling Brown
Top 5 steals: Thornwell, PJ Dozier, Andrew White, Brown, Deonte Burton, Hart (three-way tie for fourth)
Top 5 turnovers (lowest): Robinson, Dotson, VJ Beachem, White, three-way tie for fifth (1.7 per game)
Top 5 age (youngest): Dozier, Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, LJ Peak, Hill
Expanding the list to top 5 (for a bigger wing class) meant most of the players were mentioned at least once. Only two players show up in three categories: Sindarius Thornwell and Malcolm Hill. Thornwell is a relatively famous college player, the 2017 SEC player of the year and the engine behind a fantastic South Carolina team that made it all the way to the Final Four. A good defensive player, Thornwell exploded in his senior year to become one of the best players in the country, trading in previously inefficient scoring for dynamite efficiency revolving around trips to the free throw line and three point shots. He’s a darling of many scouts and is one of the likeliest names on the list to be drafted higher than the middle of the second round. Hill, on the other hand, I haven’t heard much about, which seems odd. He’s statistically solid, and is one of the leading scorers in University of Illinois history. Hill is a solid if not great outside shooter, and gets to the line a decent amount. His rebounding and assist numbers, however, are quite good, and make him an intriguing prospect considering he’s unlikely to be drafted.
A bunch of players were in two of the categories, but there are a few I want to mention briefly. PJ Dozier is by far the youngest player in the whole group, and has fallen down draft boards of late. He’s an incredibly inefficient scorer, and his rebounding rate is anemic. However, he has solid steal and assist numbers, and his youth is a plus in his favor. Damyean Dotson reminds me of Dorian Finney-Smith statistically, a long-range bomber who pulls down tons of boards and doesn’t turn the ball over much… except Dotson was a better shooter by far in college. Finney-Smith was a legit rotation player at times for Dallas this past season, which could bode well for Dotson’s NBA chances as well. Finally, Sterling Brown is another player who came on strong his senior year, which isn’t always a good sign, but his game tape is excellent, and his peripheral stats are quite good.
Now here are the bottom performers in each category:
Bottom 5 rebounds: Peak, Dozier, Dorsey, Beachem, Brooks
Bottom 5 assists: Robinson, Beachem, White, Dotson, Burton
Bottom 5 steals: Robinson, Dorsey, Blossomgame, Dotson, Beachem
Bottom 5 turnovers (highest): Iwundu, Thornwell, Dozier, Brooks, Peak
Bottom 5 age (oldest): White, Blossomgame, Burton, Dotson, Thornwell
There are a lot of repeat names in here. Unfortunately, most of the players who were good at something up above also make the list down here—there’s a reason why none of these players are probably going to be drafted in the first round. VJ Beachem stands out as a particularly poor prospect, one whose chances of success lies almost entirely on his three point shot—he doesn’t seem to be strong at much else. Devin Robinson rebounded well, but his assist and steal rates were each the poorest in the entire group, a bad sign indeed. Dotson’s weaknesses are similar to Robinson’s, but less glaring, and his strengths are stronger. It’s really tough to say any of the prospects distinguish themselves that much, as there is just a hodge-podge of good and bad all swirled around together. A few of these players might stick around the NBA, but I see very few with the potential for anything more than rotation minutes, especially due to the advanced age of several of the better prospects.
An interesting note: Dwayne Bacon and Davon Reed were the two prospects that didn’t make either the top or bottom sections-- they were entirely middle-of-the-road.
“Blue-Chip” Prospects (Relatively): None
Solid Prospects: Sindarius Thornwell, Malcolm Hill, Sterling Brown
Avoid: VJ Beachem, Devin Robinson