The 2019 NBA Playoffs are in full swing, but another crucial part of the NBA season is approaching — it’s almost draft season! This draft isn’t nearly as important for the Clippers as last year’s was, when they had two lottery picks and seemed on the verge of a rebuild. In 2019, they do have two picks, but both are late 2nd round selections, and they might not even have roster space to add both guys.
Nevertheless, the draft will have a large effect on many other decisions in the NBA, including free agency, which the Clippers have been thinking about all year. Here are some key dates to keep an eye on as draft season gets fully underway.
May 14th: Draft Lottery
The Clippers don’t have a lottery pick this year, so this doesn’t impact them directly. However, it could have an effect on their free agency plans, especially the outcome of who gets the first overall pick — and Zion Williamson. The New York Knicks, in particular, would be likely to trade the pick in a deal to get a superstar, probably Anthony Davis. That pick would be the one trump card that could sway Griffin to getting a deal done, and the Knicks attaining Davis would also make them far more likely to get other stars in free agency. This would be bad for the Clippers, who will have interest in trading for Davis this summer, and who are definitely in the market for the services of Kevin Durant, who would seem to be a near lock for NY if Davis is heading there as well. Really, outside of New York, none of the other teams seem likely to trade the pick, but it will still be interesting to see where the ping pong balls land.
May 15th-19th: Draft Combine
The draft combine is mostly a pretty boring affair, but it’s crucial as the inflection point for when draft stock really starts to shift. Players who stand out in measurements, athletic tests, or even scrimmages can move up the boards, and there are always a couple guys who make huge waves with their height, wingspan, vertical jump, or what have you. Perhaps more importantly, on the flip side, some of the players who do badly can fall significantly. This often leads to good players going lower in the draft than they should, with basketball ability getting overlooked for sheer athleticism. Additionally, if some of the players who are already fringe candidates have poor showings, they’re far more likely to return to school if eligible.
June 10th: Early Entrant Withdrawal Deadline (5 PM ET)
This is when underclassmen who declared for the draft but haven’t fully committed to leaving must make their decision on whether to stay in, or return to school. There are always a ton of players who return to school between the combine and this date, including at least a few probable 1st round picks. The strength of a draft class will be determined by this date, and the 2nd round boards in particular can only really begin to develop when all the fringe candidates are established.
June 20th: NBA Draft
This is it: the big night. Not only will the Clippers have two draft selections (possibly more or less depending on other moves they make), but sometimes large deals are completed on draft day involving real NBA players as prospects leave the board. With how massive a free agent class is present this summer, I’d expect lots of trades to happen on this draft as teams shuffle around and try to create fits for superstars in terms of both salary and basketball fit. I would not rule out such a deal from the Clippers, either.
Well, that’s it. We will probably put up the results of the draft lottery and discuss how it might effect the Clippers, as well as some light coverage of the combine and potential risers/fallers. Stay tuned for more NBA draft stuff coming soon!