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What if the Clippers could redo the 2014 and 2016 NBA Drafts?

Could the Clippers have gotten enough help to advance to the conference finals or further?

Verizon Slam Dunk Contest 2017 Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

One of the bugaboos of the Lob City era was the team’s limited depth. The Clippers starting lineup could go toe-to-toe with any other team, but the 2013-2017 squads only had seven quality rotation players at best.

There is inherent difficulty in filling out a roster when three players are on max or near-max contracts, but the Clippers didn’t do themselves any favors in team building. They targeted washed up veterans in free agency, didn’t give young players a long enough leash to develop, and sent away draft picks in shortsighted trades. Even when they did retain their first-round picks, they misevaluated talent and made some colossally bad picks.

In the spirit of What If? Week, the NBA team sites at SB Nation decided to redraft the first rounds of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 drafts. The Clippers had first-round picks in 2014 and 2016, but sent the 2015 pick to Boston in the deal to acquire Doc Rivers.

To refresh your memory, the Clippers drafted C.J. Wilcox with the 28th pick in 2014. He played 66 total games in his NBA career, 44 for the Clippers, and scored 132 points. Lou Williams scored 140 points in his last nine games before the shutdown. It broke my heart to look back at Bleacher Report’s 2014 mock draft, which has the Clippers taking Glenn Robinson III. He would have been an excellent backup wing.

But this time, we got him!

2014 SB Nation Redraft

Selection Team Original Pick New Pick
Selection Team Original Pick New Pick
1 Cleveland Cavaliers Andrew Wiggins Joel Embiid
2 Milwaukee Bucks Jabari Parker Nikola Jokic
3 Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid Marcus Smart
4 Orlando Magic Aaron Gordon Aaron Gordon
5 Utah Jazz Dante Exum Spencer Dinwiddie
6 Boston Celtics Marcus Smart Zach LaVine
7 Los Angeles Lakers Julius Randle Jusuf Nurkic
8 Sacramento Kings Nik Stauskas Clint Capela
9 Charlotte Hornets Noah Vonleh Julius Randle
10 Orlando Magic Elfrid Payton Andrew Wiggins
11 Chicago Bulls Doug McDermott Gary Harris
12 Philadelphia 76ers Dario Šarić Joe Harris
13 Minnesota Timberwolves Zach LaVine Dario Saric
14 Phoenix Suns T. J. Warren Bogdan Bogdanovic
15 Atlanta Hawks Adreian Payne TJ Warren
16 Denver Nuggets Jusuf Nurkić Rodney Hood
17 Boston Celtics James Young Jerami Grant
18 Phoenix Suns Tyler Ennis Dwight Powell
19 Denver Nuggets Gary Harris Jabari Parker
20 Toronto Raptors Bruno Caboclo Elfrid Payton
21 Oklahoma City Thunder Mitch McGary Jordan Clarkson
22 Memphis Grizzlies Jordan Adams Doug McDermott
23 Utah Jazz Rodney Hood Kyle Anderson
24 Miami Heat Shabazz Napier Nik Stauskas
25 Houston Rockets Clint Capela Langston Galloway
26 Charlotte Hornets P. J. Hairston Dante Exum
27 Phoenix Suns Bogdan Bogdanović Maxi Kleber
28 Los Angeles Clippers C. J. Wilcox Glenn Robinson III
29 Oklahoma City Thunder Josh Huestis Shabazz Napier
30 San Antonio Spurs Kyle Anderson Bruno Caboclo

In total, nine of the 30 picks didn’t make the first round on redraft, including Wilcox. It’s hard to say if GR3 would have flourished under Doc Rivers (I still think about how Reggie Bullock became valuable once he left the Clippers), but at least we know the talent was there for him to be a 3-and-D wing.

2016 was another wasted draft for the Clippers. This time, it was immediately clear that the pick was a bad decision. Brice Johnson played at a big-name collegiate program (UNC), and was a very productive player, but he was a big man with no stretch and too old to have significant upside. Bleacher Report had the Clippers going for another wing this time around, Taurean Prince, but he went significantly higher in the actual draft.

The redraft also saw Prince go ahead of the Clippers’ 25th pick, but we stuck to modern principles this time and went with a wing again. It is unlikely that he could have contributed to the Clippers before the breakup of Lob City, but he has blossomed into a strong defensive forward and a good rebounder, and he would have fit nicely on switchy lineups with the current Clippers roster. Besides, it is just tantalizing to think about Chris Paul throwing lobs to Derrick Jones Jr., even if it was only for one season.

Here is the full 2016 redraft order.

2016 SB Nation Redraft

Selection Team Original Pick New Pick
Selection Team Original Pick New Pick
1 Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons Ben Simmons
2 Los Angeles Lakers Brandon Ingram Brandon Ingram
3 Boston Celtics Jaylen Brown Jaylen Brown
4 Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender Pascal Siakam
5 Minnesota Timberwolves Kris Dunn Jamal Murray
6 New Orleans Pelicans Buddy Hield Domantas Sabonis
7 Denver Nuggets Jamal Murray Buddy Hield
8 Phoenix Suns Marquese Chriss Malcolm Brogdon
9 Toronto Raptors Jakob Pöltl Caris LaVert
10 Milwaukee Bucks Thon Maker Dejounte Murray
11 Oklahoma City Thunder Domantas Sabonis Malik Beasley
12 Atlanta Hawks Taurean Prince Fred VanVleet
13 Sacramento Kings Georgios Papagiannis Ivica Zubac
14 Chicago Bulls Denzel Valentine Dorian Finney-Smith
15 Denver Nuggets Juan Hernangómez Jakob Pöltl
16 Boston Celtics Guerschon Yabusele Cheick Diallo
17 Memphis Grizzlies Wade Baldwin Furkan Korkmaz
18 Detroit Pistons Henry Ellenson Alex Caruso
19 Denver Nuggets Malik Beasley Taurean Prince
20 Brooklyn Nets Caris LeVert Kris Dunn
21 Atlanta Hawks DeAndre' Bembry Danuel House
22 Sacramento Kings Malachi Richardson Bryn Forbes
23 Boston Celtics Ante Žižić Juan Hernangómez
24 Philadelphia 76ers Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot Yogi Ferrell
25 Los Angeles Clippers Brice Johnson Derrick Jones Jr.
26 Philadelphia 76ers Furkan Korkmaz Jake Layman
27 Toronto Raptors Pascal Siakam Skal Labissière
28 Sacramento Kings Skal Labissière Patrick McCaw
29 San Antonio Spurs Dejounte Murray Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot
30 Golden State Warriors Damian Jones Marquese Chriss

The Clippers ended up stripping down all of their roster from before 2017 to create this present team, but it’s possible that draft picks from this decade would have stuck if they had simply been better.

Who do you think the Clippers should have taken in these redrafts? Would it have made any difference? Let us know in the comments.