Welcome to our annual Clippers season in review series. Every day until the end of July, we’ll be taking a look back at the players who ended the season with the Clippers (apologies to Malik Fitts and Mfiondu Kabengele). Today, we continue with Daniel Oturu.
Name: Daniel Oturu
Years in the NBA: 1
Key stats: Played 30 games in his rookie season, albeit almost entirely late in games, averaging 1.8 points and 1.6 rebound in just over five minutes of action per game.
Future contract status: Due to make $1,517,981 in 2021-22, about double what he earned in his first season.
Oturu was a smallball center drafted out of Minnesota who embarked on his pro career in 2020-21. While he was expected to join the Agua Caliente Clippers in the G League, he stayed with the LA Clippers all season due an injury suffered during the G League bubble while adjusting to the professional game as one of the deep bench players.
Honestly, considering he seldom played for more than a couple minutes at the end of games, it’s hard to offer a detailed breakdown of Oturu’s NBA game at this point. His tiny sample size looks pretty good in the statistical categories when adjusted per 36 minutes or per 100 possessions, but those are obviously projections more than reality.
Oturu came out of Minnesota as a double-double machine, averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds in his final season in college. He offered an ability to take 3-pointers in that final season, although his shooting percentage from that distance was not great, but that’s perhaps a hint at his potential to be a smallball center who can space the floor.
I think when he did get playing time with the Clippers, Oturu stuck to the fundamentals of protecting the rim defensively and rebounding. That’s most likely what he was instructed to do, to keep it simple.
Same deal here, it’s hard to really scrutinize Oturu’s game in the NBA based on the 177 minutes he played in the regular season and playoffs. A second-round selection, it’s a pretty big deal to make a roster in the first place, and I think the Clippers envisioned bringing him along slowly, as a project in his rookie season. This approach has paid off for a player a year ahead of him in Terance Mann, but Oturu did not play in the G League bubble, which could have accelerated his progress as a professional a bit.
Oturu’s field goal percentage this season was 42.3, which is pretty poor for a big, honestly. I don’t envision him being an offensive weapon in the near future, and I think we can take the stats with a grain of salt considering how little he played, but if he had been able to score from the jump, it may have helped get him some more playing time in Year 1.
Otherwise, Oturu remains something of a mystery in terms of projecting his strengths and weaknesses.
Future with the Clippers:
Oturu is under contract right now for next season, and I would not be shocked if he’s treated again like a project, with the hope that he gets some more sustained playing time, either with LA or with the G League Clippers. If he stays on the roster, it will definitely be a make-or-break season for his future with the Clips.
Of course, he could also be a decent trade chip, so don’t be surprised if he’s packaged in part of a deal if the Clippers want to make a move or two.
The obvious choice for a rookie who primarily got garbage time or nothing in his rookie season. There’s some potential, but we’ll see if it blossoms moving forward.