The NBA Draft is less than a week away, and we’re already seeing large swings in how certain prospects are valued. For example, Jaden Springer fell to the Clippers at the 25th pick in this week’s SB Nation mock draft, but he’s in the top 20 of most draft guides, including all the way up to 11 on Ricky O’Donnell’s big board.
With that in mind, it’s a good time to check in on who the mock drafts have the Clippers selecting in the first round this year. Here’s a look back at the mock draft situation two weeks ago for reference. (Note: ESPN and Bleacher Report haven’t updated their projections since, so they won’t be included here.)
CBS Sports | Ayo Dosunmu, SG, Illinois
STRENGTHS: Big-time closer who took over games regularly at Illinois. Strong on-ball defender who can guard multiple positions. Excellent at attacking the rim in transition and finishing.
WEAKNESSES: Remains a questionable shooter despite an improved 3-point percentage. Can be turnover prone largely because of risky/unnecessary passes. Still developing as a shot-creator in halfcourt situations.
The Athletic | Rokas Jokubaitis, G, Zalgiris
The player: Jokubaitis is a combo guard with exceptional feel for the game and the ability to play out of ball screens. He makes live-dribble passes and also has a nice little three-level scoring game off his pull-up repertoire that will translate to playing both on and off the ball. The key for him will be athletic translation and consistently gaining separation, but he plays such an unhurried style of basketball with poise that I think he’ll probably be good on that front to at least carve out a solid bench role in the NBA.
The fit: The Clippers love toughness and are competing for a title. They could use a young player who can step in and contribute sooner rather than later. But it’s hard to find that later in the draft, and one avenue open to them given their current contract situation could be to stash a player they like overseas for another year to try to re-shape their roster for this season. Another name I’ve gotten that the Clippers like is Jason Preston out of Ohio, although I’m unclear that they would like him enough to entertain him at No. 25.
The Ringer | Jared Butler, G, Baylor
Generating offense without Kawhi Leonard will be of the utmost importance for the Clippers. Butler could bring scoring and playmaking off the bench, and would be a smart pick regardless of Reggie Jackson’s future with the team.
Dime | Usman Garuba, F/C, Real Madrid
Remember the way the Clippers were playing during their playoff run, using small ball to flummox opponents? Garuba would be an awesome fit in that kind of scheme as a small-ball center with high-end defensive impact. His offensive game is a bit of a mixed bag, but Garuba is one of the better defenders in the draft and he should be a first-rounder.
Sports Illustrated | Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
The Clippers can go a few directions here, but they need depth at guard, and Cooper’s special passing ability and high-level handle appears to be keeping his stock afloat in the 18-25 range. Those unique traits have helped mitigate his diminutive stature and disinterest in defense. While he most likely profiles as a backup due to those drawbacks and a streaky jump shot, Cooper does have the potential to be a very good one, with a demonstrable knack for getting into the paint and drawing fouls. There’s a point in the draft where his playmaking skills become worth the gamble, and on a team with established talent like the Clippers, Cooper should be in a better position to succeed.
Yahoo Sports | Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU
Thomas is one of the best scorers in this class, as he’s coming off of a season in which he led the SEC in scoring with an average of 23.0 points per game. He will need to get better when it comes to the accuracy, as Thomas shot 40.6% from the field and 32.5% from beyond the arc. There are also strides that need to be made defensively, but Thomas’ primary job in Baton Rouge was the put the ball in the basket. Depending upon what happens with Kawhi Leonard, who can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, the Clippers could be in need of more scoring on the perimeter. Thomas would certainly help in that area.
More news for Friday:
- One day, the Clippers may have their own championship parade. Until then, the highlights from Milwaukee’s celebration are pretty great.
- The L.A. Times crew previews the offseason for both Los Angeles teams.
- Kevin Pelton analyzes what teams can learn from this year’s playoffs.
- Michael Pina argues that Giannis Antetokounmpo has set a new template for superstars to stay put.
- Whether Giannis is the new standard or not, Vincent Goodwill explains why the Bucks’ victory is good for the NBA.