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Clippers Free Agent Retrospective: Diamond Stone Had a Rough First Year in the NBA

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Diamond Stone had a brief and inglorious stint with the LA Clippers, playing a grand total of 24 minutes in the NBA.

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Key Clipper Facts:

· Was the 40th pick in the 2016 NBA DraftClippers dropped back from 33 to grab him and the 39th pick (David Michineau)

· Appeared in 7 regular season games for the Clippers (none in playoffs), totaling up 24 minutes for the season

· Averaged 1.4 points and 0.9 rebounds per game, shooting 23.1% from the field

· Was traded to Atlanta Hawks on July 6, 2017, along with Jamal Crawford and a 1st round pick (the Clippers got Danilo Gallinari from the Nuggets as their return in the three-team deal)

· Waived by Hawks on July 31, and is currently unsigned

Expectations:

Diamond Stone had virtually no expectations going into his rookie season. As a second round pick on a contending team, with four veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, Stone was basically guaranteed a spot on the bench from the start of the season. Clippers’ fans hoped he would stand out in garbage time, and play well in the D-League. Low expectations to be sure.

Reality:

Even with the various injuries the Clippers sustained throughout the season, Stone never saw real minutes. Worse, he barely even played in garbage time, and when he did, he didn’t look particularly good. Admittedly, it’s tough to stand out in just a couple of minutes, especially when a game is decided and nobody is really playing hard-- but it was still disappointing. Stone played well enough in his 13 D-League games, and showed flashes of NBA ready skills. However, there were murmurs of attitude issues, and of trouble with coaches in Santa Cruz (borne out by the Hawks cutting Stone: their new GM Travis Schlenk was the assistant GM for Golden State, the NBA parent affiliation of Santa Cruz). While it’s difficult to know whether Stone is actually a tough player to coach, even small problems can be the final nail in the coffin of an NBA career for a fringe player.

Legacy:

In one sense, Diamond Stone will leave no Clippers’ legacy behind. He barely played for the team, and wasn’t a heralded pick who busted. He was just another miss in the second round of the draft, one who most Clippers’ fans didn’t have high expectations for in the first place. If it weren’t for jokes about his pornstar-esque name, in a couple years, most people would probably forget that Stone ever played for the Clips.

Looking at it from a different perspective, Stone’s failure to differentiate himself from the rest of the pack of Clippers’ recent draft picks is yet another indictment of the Clips’ roster construction during the Chris Paul era. It’s hard to get rotation players out of second round and late first round picks. That fact has been repeated ad nauseam over and over by people who (correctly) weren’t optimistic about any of the Stone-Michineau-Dawson-Bullock-Wilcox crew panning out. However, that doesn’t make the failures any less disappointing. Good teams who are sustainable in the long run get some value out of those types of picks. The Clippers’ utter failure to do so (though they did acquire Austin Rivers for Bullock) is just one of the reasons why the Chris Paul era ended without a Western Conference Finals appearance. Diamond Stone is not to blame for that, nor was he as an individual draft selection a particularly poor choice. Sadly, he was merely emblematic of a problem that has haunted the Clippers for the past six years.

I hope Diamond Stone has a long and prosperous career, whether in the NBA or overseas. Good luck to him!