People always have instant reactions to draft picks, regardless of how much they know about the pick, or the team making the pick. It’s the simple nature of fandom and media analysis in 2019. Sometimes, such reactions are proven correct (the confusion over Anthony Bennett going 1st in 2013 is a prime example), and sometimes they’re way off (Giannis at 15 in that same draft probably made quite a few Bucks’ fans upset). Regardless, it’s always fun to see what everyone’s saying about picks or a team’s draft, and get the measure of excitement from national sources. Without further ado, here’s a roundup of grades and opinions on the Clippers’ draft last night from various national writers and sites.
ESPN: (Jonathan Givony)
27: “Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele is a versatile big man who can score inside and out. Kabengele’s ability to make 3-pointers should allow him to operate as a center alongside a power forward such as Danilo Gallinari or in bigger lineups with a player such as Montrezl Harrell, giving Kabengele nice lineup versatility.”
48: “Florida State’s Terance Mann had a strong pre-draft process by showcasing his impressive defensive versatility and high basketball IQ. The Clippers will attempt to hone his scoring ability in the G League with the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario to the point that he will need to be guarded, but there are some things to like about his physical tools and versatility.”
27 (Gary Parrish): “I am surprised Kabengele slipped out of the top 20. He showed that there was no reason to be concerned with his knees and reportedly excelled in workouts. He’s got the potential to be an elite defensive presence and a steal in this class.”
48 (Kyle Boone): “The Clippers assembled a playoff team built on gritty players who compete hard on both ends of the floor, making Mann a decent fit in L.A. If he continues his improvement as a 3-point shooter he could be a nice rotation player. If not, he probably won’t make the cut.”
Overall Grade (Kyle Boone): B
The Ringer: (Jonathan Tjarks)
27: “The Clippers are adding to their collection of centers with Kabengele, a skilled big man who can score out of the post and space the floor....There’s a lot of Marreese Speights in his game: He hunts shots with abandon and rarely looks to move the ball... He may never be well-rounded enough to be a starting-caliber center in the NBA, but his scoring ability should allow him to carve out a long career off the bench.”
Sports Illustrated: (Jeremy Woo)
27: “The Clippers acquired this pick from the Nets via trade and will select Kabengele, who should be a nice fit with what they have in place, as a high-energy rebounder and shot-blocker who has the capacity to stretch the floor. He could be a plug-and-play role guy for L.A., which has designs on contending sooner than later. This is nice value.”
SB Nation: (Ricky O’Donnell)
27: “Dikembe Mutombo’s nephew made a name for himself this season as Florida State’s leading scorer despite coming off the bench. The 6’10 big man has great leaping ability and potential as a shooter after knocking down 37 percent of his threes this year. He has yet to show an ability to make plays for teammates, finishing with only 21 total assists across two college seasons.”
Sporting News (Chris Stone):
27: “....The Florida State big man combines outside shooting with rim protection - that’s a unique combination to grab this late in the first round.
There are still plenty of concerns regarding his feel for the game offensively. He doesn’t really pass the ball, for example, compiling just 21 assists in 1,301 minutes of college action. If he can settle into a 3-and-D role as a big man, perhaps that’ll be good enough.”
There’s a decent amount of variation in the draft grades, but very few extremes — every grade ranged between a C- and a B+. Very few sites give grades for the 2nd round, so most of the difference in opinion rests on Kabengele. He’s a big, athletic, skilled player, which sounds great for a late 1st round pick. The issues rise in his feel for the game and related ability to make plays for others, or lack thereof. The Clippers are a team that has relied on ball movement and unselfish play for the past two years, and while Kabengele isn’t “selfish”, he’s not going to be a great cog in a free-flowing offense. The Mann pick seems to have been regarded as smart, albeit unexceptional.
The Clippers did fairly well for themselves in this draft. Kabengele is certainly talented, and while they gave up a future 1st for him, it’s unlikely to be very good unless the Sixers implode this year. While he has a fairly low floor if he’s unable to master the intricacies of NBA play on either end, his ceiling is quite high for where he was picked. Mann’s NBA outcome largely rests on his shot, but there’s reason to be optimistic there, and even if it doesn’t pan out, he should be able to provide some defensive versatility off the bench. Overall, I’d say the Clippers average grade of a B-/B is about right.