From the moment Brandon Boston Jr. was drafted 51st by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2021 NBA draft, it looked as though a franchise with a notoriously below-average record of drafting young stars may have just secured themselves a sleeper.
Boston played just one year at the University of Kentucky, having left high school as a five-star recruit, and though there were suggestions he would have benefited from more time at that level, there was at least a feeling that in the right setting he could still thrive on the biggest stage.
His talent, particularly on the offensive end, was never really in question and that has been proven during his time with the Clippers. When let off the leash, the 20-year-old has shown he can score on three levels, but his frame and concentration on the defensive end have often been used as the biggest sticks to beat him with.
“I thought Brandon had some bright spots this year, both in the G League and with the NBA team,” said Clippers’ assistant coach Shaun Fein in July. “This summer, he’s really been working hard on the defensive end, and we’ve worked on a lot of decision-making with him. Again, a talented offensive player. But can we put it together on the defensive side of the floor as well and be a complete player? That’s what we’re gonna look for in Summer League.”
What is the best case scenario for their season?
Well, Fein said it best above. If Boston can use those words and his Summer League learnings under the team’s former player development coach as a platform for the season ahead, he could really kick on to another level. It won’t have been the Vegas trip that either were dreaming of for the Clippers swingman, but he’ll have learned some valuable lessons as the leader of that patched together unit of youngsters.
This season, there’s a chance he could realistically find himself filling the role of one of the spark plugs off the bench. This team has thrived off the energy of the second unit down the years and the loss of Isaiah Hartenstein will be felt keenly in that regard, though it leaves an opportunity for somebody like Boston to step up and provide what this squad may now find themselves lacking.
What is the worst-case outcome?
While there is still a long way to go for Boston and a lot of time to make his way as an NBA player, a season of little to no progress in the areas his coaches have identified may cause critics to start accusing him of not being such a steal in his draft class.
If Boston can’t use his limited playing time this season to start showing more than just flashes of his potential, the Clippers may find themselves looking elsewhere with his contract not yet guaranteed for 2023-24.
What do you think is the most likely role for them?
While I could see either of the above scenarios coming true, given the raw ability of Boston at this stage of his career, I think he will put himself in position to secure guaranteed money for his third NBA season by showing further flashes from the bench.
It may require him to utilize all the garbage time minutes he can get to start the season, but with the variety of lineups the Clippers can look to play, there could well be a more regular role for him to play during the upcoming campaign.