The first domino to fall for the Clippers this offseason — other than perhaps an announcement about Kawhi Leonard’s knee injury, but don’t hold your breath — will be the NBA Draft. Before we get into the weeds of who the Clippers should select at No. 25, if they even keep the pick, it might be useful to see what the consensus is among mock drafts.
Without further ado, here’s who the experts expect the Clippers to take in the 2021 NBA Draft, with three weeks to go until the big day.
SB Nation | Greg Brown, F, Texas
Brown is a 6’7 forward with a 6’10 wingspan who has absolutely elite vertical bounce around the basket. Brown’s offensive skills on the perimeter are still very much a work in progress, but his three-point shot (30-of-91 on the year or 33 percent) was a little better than most expected out of high school. He has a chance to be an impact defensive forward who can contribute on the glass and score on cuts, but it feels like he’d be in a better spot if he was a little bigger and a little longer to profile as a small ball five.
With questions lingering around Kawhi Leonard’s future, the Clippers will need to add scoring punch to their backcourt/wing rotation, either in the draft or free agency. Expecting a pick in the mid-20s to be an instant contributor is a tall ask, but if anyone can do it it’s Thomas, who has been a certified bucket in every setting of his career. He is one of the best scorers in the draft and will likely need very little time to acclimate himself offensively thanks to the instincts he brings on that end of the floor.
CBS Sports | Ayo Dosunmu, SG, Illinois
Ayo Dosunmu improved enough as a shooter in his third season at Illinois to lock up a spot in the first round. The regularity with which he took over games in the Big Ten suggests he can be a big-scoring guard who could provide depth in the Clippers’ backcourt and help them win immediately. — Gary Parrish
The Clippers could use some scoring pop off the bench, and Dosunmu is one of the most polished scorers in the draft. If his 3-point shooting can hold up it will take him to the next level, but he’s still incredibly valuable as a mid-range jump shooter and pick-and-roll operator. His size and length will allow him to play multiple positions and fit into the Clippers’ switching defensive scheme. — Colin Ward-Henninger
Bleacher Report | Usman Garuba, F/C, Real Madrid
NBA executives will get a chance to watch Garuba with Spain in the Olympics. He’s currently expected to go in the mid-first round, though not every scout sees exciting upside due to his offensive limitations. It seems unlikely he’ll be used enough by Spain to show anything more than finishing and the occasional spot-up three, but he should have a chance to continue strengthening his case as one of the draft’s top defenders.
The Athletic | Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee
The player: Springer had a strong freshman season for the Vols. His advanced numbers and analytics are quite strong for his age. And similarly to Johnson above, Springer was tremendous late in the season. He averaged 16 points, four rebounds and three assists in his final 11 games, finally getting a chance to show off why he was a five-star prospect. He’s also a terrific defender. Having said that, I’ve found that Springer’s game isn’t loved by many scouts. He plays almost solely off two feet and doesn’t seem to get the most out of his athleticism. There’s a degree of bully-ball here. He’s going to have to adjust his game to have success at the next level.
The fit: The Clippers love toughness, and Springer does bring that in how competitively he plays, especially on the defensive end. After taking centers often in the last couple of drafts, Los Angeles will be looking for a bit more perimeter help. Springer won’t necessarily be able to step in and help immediately, given the adjustments he needs to make and the improvement he needs as a shooter. But I do like him as a nice potential complement to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard if he can continue along his trajectory defensively.
The Ringer | Greg Brown, F, Texas
If there’s one thing the Clippers lack, it’s a young prospect with raw skills and a ton of promise. Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, and Ivica Zubac are all contributing 24-year-olds. But none of them scream “potential star.” Brown lacks seasoning, but he’s an incredible athlete who projects as an impactful defender. Though there’s a chance Brown doesn’t pan out, the Clippers don’t have many valuable picks or much upside on their roster, so they need to take a risk.
Not a lot of consensus, other than a trend towards perimeter players rather than picking a center for the third consecutive season. But that’s to be expected at this point in the draft with so much time still left to go.
Do you have a favorite Clippers prospect yet? Let us know in the comments.