The 2019 NBA Finals have been incredibly gripping, and will now pivot to a crucial Game 6 in Oracle Arena. However, the fantastic play between the Raptors and Warriors and all the huge storylines (Kevin Durant’s injury, Kawhi Leonard’s free agency, etc.) have obscured the fact that the 2019 NBA Draft is just nine days away. The Draft is one of the single most important and fun days of the NBA calendar, and it’s gotten remarkably little coverage this year. That’s partially due to the weakness of the draft, and the lack of mystery around who the top picks will be, but it’s still weird to see so little about it.
The Clippers only have two late second round picks, and nobody they pick is likely to play much of a role next season, but there’s still a chance they could make a deal on draft day. And even if they don’t, Sindarius Thornwell, who was the 48th pick two years ago, had a real impact his rookie season, so these guys can’t be written off. That said, here are who the biggest and most well connected draft sites have the Clippers taking this year.
ESPN (Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz), updated June 10th:
48th: Jalen Lecque, PG from Brewster Academy (committed to play NC State, didn’t play)
56th: 56th - Jalen McDaniels, SF/PF from San Diego State (sophomore)
These are the same picks as over a week ago. ESPN has modified their mock draft somewhat since then, but haven’t come out with a truly “new” mock, so it’s possible this changes over the next day or two.
48th: DaQuan Jeffries, G/F from Tulsa
56th: Jaylen Hoard, SF from Wake Forest
In Woo’s last mock draft, he had the Clippers taking Darius Bazley and Charles Bassey (who returned to school), so these are new prospects for him. The two prospects are a study in contrasts. Hoard is a freshman who struggled at times at Wake, especially with efficiency, while Jeffries was extremely good his last season at Tulsa, but is a far older prospect with more limited upside.
48th: Zylan Cheatham, SF/PF from Arizona State
56th: Jaylen Nowell, SG from Washington
Again, neither of these players has been mocked to the Clippers before. Cheatham is another senior, and an interesting prospect as an undersized big man with a nose for the boards and some passing ability. Nowell has a great pedigree as the Pac 12 Player of the Year in 2019 as a sophomore, and is extremely young for his year, as he doesn’t turn 20 until after the draft.
The Athletic (Sam Vecenie), updated June 7th:
48th - Naz Reid, C from LSU
56th - Brian Bowen, G from Sydney Kings
We have our first repeat! Brian Bowen has been linked to the Clippers as long ago as last draft, and was mocked to the Clippers a few weeks ago by ESPN. He’s a rangy wing who has some professional experience, playing decent minutes in Sydney and providing solid minutes as a role player. Reid is a freshman who has some shooting ability as a true center, which is interesting, but he has a long way to go as a defender and rebounder.
It’s hard to take much away from these mock drafts, even just over a week before the draft. There’s no consensus among all these (very well connected) people, outside of maybe some idea that the Clippers are interested in Bowen. I’d say the biggest takeaway might be that the Clippers are being connected to primarily wings, with only one point guard or true big man mocked. However, that might not be Clippers-specific, but more of a reflection on the strength of this draft class and the direction the NBA as a whole is trending. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if the mock drafts start to center in on a prospect or two for the Clippers in the coming days. Stay tuned!