The NBA Finals concluded less than 24 hours ago, which means the 2022 NBA Draft is just around the corner... literally. By this time next week, 60-plus prospects — 58 picks and the smattering of undrafted free agents who get picked up soon after the draft concludes — will have new homes and new opportunities. And while the Los Angeles Clippers may not be drafting from the most exciting spot in the field, a byproduct of their trade for Paul George (perhaps you’ve heard of him) back in 2019, they’ve done plenty of due diligence ahead of making the 43rd overall selection next Thursday night.
The Clips’ lone pick comes midway through the second round. The expectation is that LA will indeed use the pick to bolster their ranks and inject more youth into the team.
Now, whether or not it actually is at No. 43 remains to be seen. They could trade up or down without drastically altering their fate too much, given the typical success rate of second-round picks. However, hidden among the bevy of second-rounders that inevitably fall by the wayside is often a gem. The Clippers hope to pick out the shiniest of the lot.
So far, the Clippers have reportedly worked out the following players:
- Keve Aluma, Virginia Tech
- Christian Braun, Kansas
- Izaiah Brockington, Iowa State
- Terrell Brown, Washington
- Collin Gillespie, Villanova
- Javante McCoy, Boston University
- Terquavion Smith, N.C. State
- Jalen Williams, Santa Clara
- Lucas Williamson, Loyola
Perhaps the lone surprise on the list is Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams, who is widely considered to be a potential first-round pick. Kevin O’Connor’s latest mock draft for The Ringer has the Houston Rockets taking Williams with the 17th overall pick; CBS Sports’s two most recent mocks have him gone by picks 19 (Minnesota) and 23 (Philadelphia); ESPN pegs Williams as a future Chicago Bull, being selected 18th overall.
Williams, needless to say, would likely be a pipe dream. For what it’s worth, he was eager to share that the Clippers worked him out, posting the info on his Instagram story back in May. Hey, a pipe dream is still a dream, right?
For the most part, however, those mock drafts (among others) do align with the Clippers' workout history, Williams or not. Kansas guard Christian Braun becomes a Clipper in Kyle Boone’s mock draft for CBS Sports. Meanwhile, ESPN and Hoops Hype see Los Angeles taking a chance on the French international, Ismael Kamagate.
The most exciting prospect, however, may be Iowa State guard Izaiah Brockington. He’s listed as a point guard despite his average distributing ability — just 1.6 assists per game last season; he never averaged more than 1.7 in four years with the Cyclones. Nevertheless, Brockington did get better each season as both a scorer and rim-crasher. As his minutes ballooned from 11.6 to 34.9 per game from his freshman to his senior season, Brockington’s averages jumped from 4.3 to 16.9 points per game, and from 1.2 to 6.8 rebounds per game. As a 6-foot-4 guard, that sort of versatility is hard to come by.
With the Clippers, odds are he’d be an excellent fit behind Reggie Jackson as the team’s backup point guard, sharing those duties with a hopefully-healthy Jason Preston. One of the two would likely end up spending some time with Agua Caliente, the Clippers’ G League affiliate, but that’s part of the journey. Should the Clippers draft Brockington, they’ll be garnering another score-first, aggressive guard, one who with the proper development could blossom into a contributor quite soon.
Lawrence Frank and Steve Ballmer’s approach to the draft, no matter the selection, should be a simple one. According to Law Murray of The Athletic, “The Clippers are casting a wide net of targets. There’s no drafting for need in the second round. They could use their pick on a one-and-done or a super senior; a point guard or a center; or any type of player in between. It’s all about B.P.A.: Best Player Available.”
The actual best players available, like Jabari Smith Jr. (currently -165 to be the top pick, per DraftKings Sportsbook), Chet Holmgren (+125), and Paolo Banchero (+2000), will almost definitely be drafted in the top three next week. Other favorites, at least to be taken in the top 10, include Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe and G League Ignite product Dyson Daniels (both -2500; as close to surefire top-10 picks as it gets), Bennedict Mathurin (-800), Johnny Davis (-250), and Jalen Duren (+100), to name a few.
Place your bets and tune in on Thursday to see who the Clippers take, as well as who makes for a high-pick surprise. There’s always one; make some money off it, why don’t you?
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