Draft aficionados Charlie Widdoes, Andrew Han and Michael Shagrin put on their best suits and run a little 3-on-3 action. Awkward handshakes and hats that are too small for everyone!
1. What do you think the Clippers need to address most in this draft?
Charlie Widdoes: They are weakest on the wings and at center, but if they stick with just the 53rd pick, talent (and “character”) are all that matters, regardless of position. As always, extra points for defense and scoring efficiency and work ethic, and if Draymond Green (size?) or Jared Sullinger (back) somehow were to drop, you take them even though they play the same position as Blake Griffin.
Andrew Han: At 53? I would say a backup SF or C. It’s incredibly rare to find a starter that late in the draft, but if the Clippers could find a project SF that could grow into a starter after Butler’s contract is up in two years, that would probably be the best case scenario. Otherwise, backup centers have incredible value for a 2nd round salary, even if they are very limited.
Michael Shagrin: The Clippers should target a prospect who will be able to contribute immediately. There’s only one season left to persuade Chris Paul to stay in Los Angeles long-term, thus it would be of little use to go after a “project” pick. Given that, the Clippers should use the 53rd pick to address the 2-guard. A backup big is equally necessary, but the chances are slim that a standout power forward or center with ready-made NBA skills will still be available at the bottom of the second round.
2. Give us three names you like. One guy you’d love to see fall, another projected in the Clippers’ area, and a sleeper flying under the radar.
CW: 1) Jae Crowder. He’s a 6-foot-5 forward, so it’s possible he falls to 53, but he does it all so he should go higher. 2) Henry Sims, center from Georgetown. He’s big and skilled, and John Hollinger has him ranked 32nd so he’d represent great value. 3) Bernard James, 27-year old center from Florida State. Spent 6 years in the Air Force but has the tools to be an impact defender.
AH: Player I’d love to fall: Quincy Miller. He started his freshman year as a top 10 pick. He started draft workouts as a mid-1st round pick. Now he’s almost falling out of the 1st round? Ridiculous. I’ll throw in Evan Fournier as well as his aggregate position is in the early 2nd round.
Projected 53 pick: Bernard James. He’s big, strong and agile. So what if he’s 27? James could be a serviceable backup center for 3 years and not cost more than $2 million. Total. That’s value.
Sleeper: Jared Sullinger. I see a lot of his criticisms being similar to Kevin Love’s in 2008 and DeJuan Blair in 2009, “fat” “below the rim” “medical red flag”. Love and Blair turned out pretty good. Sullinger was a lottery pick as late as a week ago and now he’s dropped like a New Year’s resolution. Sometimes people focus so much on what players don’t do that they don’t realize they’re pretty good players.
MS: For the guy who falls, I have to go with Will Barton out of Memphis. A 6’6″ 2-guard with serious range and silky shot, Barton is projected to go at the very end of the first round or the beginning of the second. His body type could generously be called twig-like, so I’m holding out hope that his lack of strength scares off suitors.
For the realistic pick, Darius Johnson-Odom of Marquette would be an excellent fit in red, white, and blue. He’s picking up the reputation as a hard-worker with an insane basketball IQ, to say nothing of his tenacious defense and spot-up shooting abilities. Where Johnson-Odom really makes his money is on the fastbreak, where his low center of gravity (he’s only 6’2″) paired with noteworthy speed and strength make him look like Eric Bledsoe 2.0. More likely than not, DJO could come into the guard rotation and start contributing immediately.
For the sleeper, Nihad Djedovic out of Turkey could have a serious payout. Though quite an inconsistent player, he’s a 6’5″ shooting guard with offensive comparisons to Manu Ginobli. It’s likely not worth the risk though, especially since he’d most assuredly need to stay stashed away in Europe for the upcoming season
3. Dream a bit. Outside of Anthony Davis, which first rounder would be the best fit with the Clippers? And would you be willing to move Eric Bledsoe to get him?
CW: Great question. You could make an argument for Bledsoe over most guys in this draft, but there are a couple. I went back and forth, but settled on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist over Harrison Barnes (with John Henson ). Always loved the idea of Barnes on the Clippers — I like his shooting and I think he’ll be a good defender — but I’m starting to really believe in MKG as Super Glue Guy on a championship team.
AH: I’m actually not enamored with any of the high lottery picks. I suppose I’d consider trading Bledsoe for Kidd-Gilchrist or Beal? My dreams are more humble. Jeff Taylor, a projected late 1st round pick could be a great fit. Taylor could be the Clippers answer to Thabo Sefolosha and do all the little things a shooting guard does to help a team succeed (even if Taylor is projected as a SF).
MS: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Clippers don’t need to make a concerted effort to improve on the offensive end, and that is the only slight against MKG. His upside as an uber-athletic wing defender who works his tail off would be a perfect fit in terms of talent and culture. Even if his offensive repertoire never develops (an unlikely proposition as the kid is still just 18), he still could be a valuable asset in the NBA for a decade due to his combination of strength, speed, and intensity. Would I break up the band and ship out Bledsoe for MKG? You bet. Hell, I’ll throw my mother and two puppies in there as a sweetener. Kidd-Gilchrist is exactly what the Clippers could use right now at an incredibly reasonable price.