The second-round of the NBA draft typically doesn’t bring much in the way of providing top-level, or even middle-level talent. Yes, you can get someone like Nikola Jokic or Malcolm Brogdon but more often than not, you are looking at players that will be in the G-League or in Europe in a few years. For the Clippers, who currently hold the 48th and 56th picks in the draft, what is their destiny? I could see a multitude of moves happening to try to move up in the second-round, or to package these picks in a trade. Having the 48th and 56th picks more than likely won’t change the roster next season. However, this draft has a lot of backend talent.
The irony of this draft is that some of the best scoring guards in college this past season are projected as late round/undrafted prospects. Prolific college scorers could bring late round value for teams looking for dudes who can just flat out score from the backcourt. It never hurts to pick someone late who just knows how to put the ball in the hole. Look at someone like Alonzo Trier for the Knicks last season! Also, imagine what mentorship under professional scorer Lou Williams could do for these kids.
While the Clippers are pretty stacked in the backcourt, there’s no guarantee guys like Patrick Beverley, Rodney McGruder, and Garrett Temple re-sign. That does leave some room for guards and wings to get picked up by the Clippers late in the draft and actually contribute. Scoring is the name of the game in this league, and there are definitely some hoopers that should be available late in the second round.
Let’s take a look at three scoring guards (and some honorable mentions) that the Clippers should target with their late second-round picks.
Shamorie Ponds - PG, St. Johns
College stats (2018-19): 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists in 35.1 minutes. Splits of .454/.353/.836
Measureables: Height: (generous) 6’1”, Weight: 180, Standing reach: 8’0”, Wingspan: 6’3”
Mocks: The Ringer - 36, ESPN - 46 on big board, Sports Illustrated - 56 on big board, 55 in mock
Pros: Shamorie Ponds is a gamer. Plain and simple. He is a volume scorer who has no fear when attacking the rim, despite his smaller stature. He can take you off the dribble, shoot over you, go around you, through you…it doesn’t matter. Ponds simply knows how to put the ball in the bucket, and can do so in many ways. Averaging nearly 20 points a game in the Big East as an undersized guard is nothing to shake your head at. With an effective field goal percentage of 52.1 percent and a 35.3 percent three-point percentage on 184 attempts, Ponds is surprisingly efficient at doing so as well. At St. Johns, Ponds did everything and was the man as soon as he stepped on campus. You can feel it in his play, with the confidence that he exudes on the floor and the swagger he possesses. He is a good finisher in the lane and is sneaky around the rim, with the ability to finish with both hands well, and some crafty layups in his bag. Ponds is also adept at the pick-and-roll, and will make defenders pay for not staying tight. He has shown a solid ability in his pull-up game from beyond the arc and from 15+ feet, and can get open on the floor just about any time he wants to. His vision is also pretty solid, and he has proven that he can deliver clean, crisp passes to his teammates in scoring positions. He fills a need for L.A., since the Clips have a lack of PG’s on the roster if Patrick Beverley leaves.
Defensively, Ponds averaged 2.6 steals last season (good for first in the Big East) and is really smart off the ball. His size limitations prevent him from being a great on-ball defender, but he is active on the defensive end and can pick peoples pockets. His IQ is high, but he will need to keep up the defensive energy and make sure he doesn’t get picked on as the undersized guard on the floor.
Cons: Ponds did almost everything for St. Johns, thus his shot selection was iffy and he is more than likely used to having the ball in his hands a lot. That will change at the next level, and he has to make sure that he doesn’t become a ball stopper on offense. A pure scorer, his playmaking skills are average, partially due to his size. He is a good ball handler, but will need to learn how to make concise and efficient moves to free himself from bigger NBA defenders. Ponds is quick, but can sometimes move faster than he thinks, and places himself in a bad position on the court as a result. Becoming smarter and truly finding a role at the next level will do wonders for Ponds.
However, Ponds is the type of dude you get for value in the late second round, if he falls that far (which I’m not so sure about). He is an elite scorer, a solid shooter, a good passer, and a decent defender. He will carve out a role in the NBA no matter what, and would be a good backup PG option for L.A. moving forward.
Justin Wright-Foreman - PG, Hofstra
College stats (2018-19): 27.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists in 37.8 minutes. Splits of .511/.425/.864
Measureables: Height: 6’2”, Weight: 190 Standing Reach: N/A, Wingspan: N/A
Mocks: The Ringer - 57, ESPN - 72 on big board, Sports Illustrated - 79 on big board, N/A in mock
Comps: Lou Williams, less chunky Ty Lawson
Pros: Justin Wright-Foreman, similar to Ponds, is a lefty point guard who can just flat out score the ball. Similar to our own Lou Williams, Wright-Foreman is an undersized dude who just knows how to get to his spots, rise and hit. It’s rinse-repeat in this regard, and he can score from anywhere on the floor. He was a high volume shooter who had an incredible 60% effective field goal perspective, and shot 42.5 percent from three on 110 attempts. He is the type of fearless scorer that you pick up late in the second round because you will always know one thing: he’ll never forget how to put the ball in the hole. Wright-Foreman does it efficiently, differently, and effectively. He can finish in the lane well thanks to a study frame and a nice teardrop lefty floater. He can knock down shots going to his left or right, is effective in the PNR, has a really tight handle and would be effective on or off the ball. JWF is undersized but as mentioned before, has a fairly thick frame and has shown an ability to bang inside and finish among the trees. He’s such a natural scorer I don’t see how he couldn’t get minutes in the league.
Defensively, Wright-Foreman is a bit of an enigma due to Hofstra playing zone. This usually means that players are trained to be really active with their hands in passing lanes and quick on their feet. He doesn’t project to be a great on-ball defender, but could do himself some favors by becoming elite as a help man and use his quick hands to get steals, which I could potentially see down the line.
Cons: Small school volume scorers are always tricky to evaluate. Playing against subpar competition night-in, night-out makes your pro’s really stand out and your cons take a backseat. The ultimate problem with Wright-Foreman is that Hofstra never even made the NCAA Tournament while he was there. While he did hang 29 points on NC State, that’s a team with no NBA prospects on it. Will any of this translate? Will he be more CJ McCollum? Or Andrew Goudelock? That’s a big question, especially given that he’s undersized (more undersized than those two) by today’s NBA standards. Along with needing to prove that he can defend at an NBA level, Wright-Foreman is not that athletic. He can rise a bit and is shifty and quick, but doesn’t posses the type of athleticism where you can overlook his stature like Ja Morant. He’s an average passer, and wasn’t looked upon at Hofstra to be a facilitator. He will be a PG at the next level and needs to plays more heads up.
Overall, Wright-Foreman is worth the flier at 56 for the Clippers because of his great ability to hit shots all over the floor and the potential mentorship with his best comparison in Lou Williams. You can’t really get better scoring value than Justin this late in the second-round, and he has the all-around offensive game to potentially be a special scorer professionally.
Miye Oni - SG, Yale
College Stats (2018-19): 17.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists in 31 minutes. Splits of .441/.371/.793
Measureables: Height: 6’5”, Weight: 206, Standing Reach: 8’4”, Wingspan: 6’11”
Mocks: The Ringer - 58, ESPN - 52 on big board, Sports Illustrated: 52 on big board, 53 in mock
Comps: Chandler Hutchison, Alec Burks
Pros: Miye Oni is the type of high character, do-everything shooting guard that teams will covet late in the second round. He is comfortable playing on and off the ball, is long and strong with athleticism to create and finish in the paint, and a comfortable shooter with range. At Yale, Oni was a two-time first-team Ivy League performer. This came only a few years after being recruited solely by Division III schools after high school. Oni has gotten exceptional quickly, and seeing this type of progress is what makes him fascinating for teams. Can he continue to get better in an NBA system? From all accounts, Oni’s work ethic and motor are top notch, so for a team with a last second-round pick, Oni would be a solid choice. He is the type of wing that will stuff the stat sheet: make smart plays for others, do all the dirty work defensively, grab boards, hit shots efficiently and be a great locker room guy. Oni is the prototype of someone you take the late round value pick on because he can do so many things on the floor.
Defensively, Oni translates to being a good-to-great on-ball defender given his length, strength la,teral quickness, and effort. He will be able to stick with 1-3 positions defensively, and will be awesome in passing lanes off the ball because of a near seven-foot wingspan. This could be the best facet of his game moving forward and what keeps him in the league for years to come.
Cons: Again, small college ball doesn’t always translate. Oni had a big chance to prove himself on a big stage this past March when Yale took on LSU in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament. He laid an egg going 2-for-16 (including 1-of-10 from three) from the floor for five points in a five point loss. In five games against better competition (Cal, Duke, Memphis, Miami and LSU), Oni averaged 15.4 points (including 29 against Miami in a win) but did so only shooting 39 percent. That’s worrisome if he has to go against NBA competition night-in, night-out.
Similar to a lot of small college wings, Oni’s flaws have been minimized against weaker competition. He definitely needs to tighten his handle on drives and play more heads up basketball. One tends to force things when in the paint, and needs to perfect his pull-up game as opposed to forcing contested layups. His three-point shot also will need some time to translate to the league. He shoots way out in front of his head which could lead to getting his shot blocked at the next level, and needs to smooth out his jumper.
Overall, Oni would be a really solid pickup for the Clippers (especially at 56, if he drops). A guy like Oni gives you the ability to have length, good defense and go-to scoring from a lot of places on the floor in the second/third unit. He’ll likely spend some time in the G-League, but expect to see Oni get some burn this year from whomever picks him.
Players who could fall but will most likely be taken before the Clippers first pick: Tennessee’s Jordan Bone, Washington’s Jaylen Nowell, Iowa State’s Talen Horten-Tucker
Honorable mentions: Campbell’s Chris Clemons, Michigan’s Jordan Poole, Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon, Jalen Lecque