Barring a trade, the Clippers will be picking later in the draft (53rd) than they have since 1975. But most consider this year’s draft to be extraordinarily deep, so there very well may be NBA talent available when they pick on Thursday night.
Below is a list names that we might hear Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver call and how we should feel if he does, based on resources such as Draft Express and John Hollinger’s Draft Rater, as well as Clippers.com’s handy dandy Mock Draft Aggregate. Click the player name for their Draft Express profile.
Kim English, SG, Missouri
The Clippers.com aggregate took 11 of the most respected mock drafts and turned out Kim English as the Clippers’ most likely pick based on the oh-so-exact science of mock draft aggregation. If he winds up being the pick, Clipper fans would have a reason to be optimistic. He has prototypical size (6-foot-6) for an NBA shooting guard and possesses the shooting stroke to match (46% from three for national title contender Mizzou). Ryan Blake, Senior Director of NBA Scouting Operations, went out of his way to praise English as a 2nd round sleeper for his ability to defend and shoot, with quickness to make up for lack of elite athleticim.
Hollinger does not have him ranked, but his Draft Express profile makes him sound like a potential rotation player at some point: “English may lack elite athleticism, but he plays intense defense, makes the extra pass, and seems well-equipped to fill a Daequan Cook type role in the right situation given his prolific jump shooting.”
Bernard James, C, Florida State
James’ aggregate mock draft position is 55th, so he could be in play for the Clips. He will be best known for his age — he enters the draft as a 27-year old, thanks to six years spent in the Air Force before attending Florida State — but I ask that you put your ageist urges aside and consider him for a moment. He may be raw offensively, but given his background, he might be worth a shot based on his defensive ability.
From Draft Express:
His defense and rebounding remain his most attractive assets from an NBA perspective, unsurprising due to his central role on the country’s 5th best defense according to kenpom.com.
In the post, James does an excellent job utilizing his high motor and physical tools to disrupt the opposition, playing a rangy, aggressive style that fits well into his team’s scheme. He’s a tremendously instinctive shot-blocker, doing an excellent job rotating from the weak-side and being a major factor for opposing slashers to deal with inside the paint. This is likely his most appealing attribute as a NBA prospect, as it’s not difficult to envision this part of his game translating to playing against better competition.
Jae Crowder, SF/PF, Marquette
Crowder is looking like the next Marquette product with a good chance to carve out a role for himself in the NBA. He is undersized for a small forward, and especially so for a 4, but Hollinger has him ranked 44th in this class for a reason. If the Clippers are lucky enough to grab him, there is little question he’d become a fan favorite from the moment he takes the court in Las Vegas for summer league, with his efficient play on offense and relentless commitment to playing defense.
Crowder gets most of his offense by working off the ball, be it spotting up from the 3-point line, diving to the rim to position himself for drop-off passes from his guards, running the floor in transition, posting up, or through his work on the offensive glass.
He’s extremely intelligent operating off the ball, having a knack for moving to the right spot to catch and finish in a simple and effective manner, despite rarely playing above the rim. He uses the glass nicely and has terrific touch around the basket, which helps explain how he’s able to convert 61% of his attempts inside the arc even though he is usually at a distinct size disadvantage. Although he’s not a high flyer, he rarely misses high percentage looks.
Crowder’s best attributes revolve around his play on the defensive end, where he’s one of the most versatile and effective players in all of college basketball. One of the rare players who truly guards every position on the court one through five, often within a single game, Crowder takes great pride in shutting down his matchup, and is a willing contributor as a team defender as well.
Henry Sims, C, Georgetown
Whaddaya know, a Georgetown center with an NBA future. Hollinger loves him relative to his aggregate draft position (47th), ranking him 32nd overall. He says: “He is not a great athlete and will struggle defensively, but he is a high skill guy who could be a second-round steal.” He improved in each of his four seasons — finally reaching 25 minutes per game as a senior — and still has room to grow. He can pass (5 assists per 40 minutes), rebound (8.7 per 40), and shoot free throws (70.8%), all of which the Clippers could use from a big off the bench.
Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse
His teammate Dion Waiters will get picked in the lottery, but Joseph could also find himself on an NBA roster next season. He has the length to play small forward (6’7″), and shot about 35% from 3 over his last two years at ‘Cuse. Like most Orange pro prospects who sit in a 3-2 zone for the entirety of their college career, we don’t know much about him defensively, but he has a real feel for scoring that the Clips could certainly use on the wing.
Hollis Thompson, SF, Georgetown
Hollis Thompson can really shoot it. And at 6-foot-8, being able to knock down over 43% of your threes over three years in the Big East makes you a legitimate NBA prospect. His aggregate mock draft position is 45th, so if he’s available when the Clips pick, it’ll be worth a long look.
Overall, Thompson is a prospect who clearly has a skill to hang his hat on with his outstanding perimeter shooting. His average ball-handling skills may limit his upside in the eyes of some NBA scouts, but if he can continue to prove himself as a capable defender and make some slight improvements to his offensive game to increase his versatility, he has a great chance of carving out a niche in the league. NBA teams are always looking for perimeter shooters with prototypical size who can space the floor, and at age 20, it isn’t a stretch to say that Thompson may not be a finished product.
William Buford, SG, Ohio State
Another senior, Buford has prototypical shooting guard size and experience as a leader on a very successful college team. Based on the most draft aggregator (59th), he should be available.
Despite his struggles as a senior, Buford continues to project favorably as a NBA role player, something he’s already proven to be capable of at the college level on a number of very successful teams. He’s averaging a career high 4.2 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted this season, which is near the top amongst true shooting guard prospects in our database.
In addition, his size, length and excellent fundamentals give him a very good framework of skills to build off on the defensive end, even if he does not possess elite lateral quickness. Buford has good fundamentals and awareness on defense that somewhat obscure his physical deficiencies. Simply put, he is a good team defender on the NCAA’s best defensive team. It’s safe to say he will be able to at least hold his own on that end of the floor in the NBA.
Rakim Sanders, “utility guy,” Fairfield
Ryan Blake, the senior director of NBA Scouting Operations mentioned Sanders when asked for one 2nd round sleeper, so it’s probably worth mentioning here. Blake called the 6-foot-5 Sanders a “utility guy” rather than giving him a traditional position.
His scouting report out of high school included terms like “athletic freak,” “excellent defensive instincts” and “picture perfect shooting form,” but he apparently struggled to live up to that rep in three years at Boston College and another one at Fairfield after transferring and sitting out a year. It’s a long shot that the Clippers, or any team, picks him on Thursday, but keep an eye out if they do.