Traditionally Clipper Nation would be in full swing scouting college talent for the draft. Not anymore. But, with a few days off, it’s a nice distraction from the 3-seed playoff clock to take an early look at some prospects. Here’s Pos Karantonis with a first take:
Looking at this year’s NCAA tournament you’ll notice what has been known for a while now among most NBA scouts: this summer’s draft will be a fairly weak, at least in terms of obvious franchise changing player (Lebron/Durant/Blake Griffin). Yet there’s a good amount of players that should/could at least have long careers in the NBA. When looking at the Clippers roster you’ll notice that they only have two young players signed beyond next year, DeAndre Jordan & Blake Griffin. So, at some point, some young players need to be brought in to build around Blake and Chris Paul, who more than likely will sign a long-term deal with the team this summer. That leaves the Clippers with big holes at small forward and shooting guard for the future. Luckily, there’s a good amount of players at those positions with a lot of talent and potential in this year’s draft. Here’s a list of players that might be available late in the first round:
C.J. Leslie (NC State) 6-8, 206: could have been selected in the first round last year but decided to stay one more season. He can really play, but his work ethic has been questioned at times during his college career.
C.J. Fair* (Syracuse) 6-8, 212: the type of player that always gets all the loose balls, defends well, and crashes the boards hard. His shot has improved a lot, but he’s still primarily a mid-range shooter (a bit like a young Caron Butler).
Lebryan Nash* (Oklahoma State) 6-7, 230: a really athletic small forward that — with the right point guard — can be really effective; as we saw this year when he got to play with arguably the best point guard prospect in the draft, Marcus Smart.
Allen Crabbe (California) 6-6, 210: a great spot up shooter that needs to work on his ball handling, but would be a great fit for the Clippers since Chris Paul handles the ball anyways. I see a lot of Allan Houston in him.
Kantavious Caldwell-Pope* (Georgia) 6-5, 190: the Clippers should draft him for that name alone. He’s still raw after only one year in college on a poor team, but can really shoot. For example, he put up 32 against LSU earlier this year.
Jamaal Franklin (SDSU) 6-5, 195: former teammate of Kawhi Leonard. Franklin plays with the same intensity as Leonard (especially on defense), but he doesn’t shoot as well.
Ricky Ledo* (Providence) 6-6 , 180: a smooth shooting small forward that missed the whole season because he was academically ineligible, yet he came into college with some scouts rating him as the best scorer in his class. It would clearly be a gamble to take him in the first round, though.
Backup point guard and center are lower positions of need as the Clippers have Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan both in those positions, but of there were to explore players for those roles:
Lorenzo Brown (NC State) 6-5, 185 | BJ Young* (Arkansas) 6-3, 170: both point guards have good size to play in the NBA, are quick and can make plays on their own. But both also need a lot of work on shooting.
Gorgui Dieng* (Louisville) 6-11, 235 | Patrick Young* (Florida) 6-9, 245: both tough defenders that do a good job rebounding the ball. Dieng is a great shot blocker as well, while Young is already physically built for the NBA (Reminiscent of another Ben Wallace).
Erick Murphy (Florida) 6-10, 238: a really good rebounder and one of the best outside shooting big men in College Basketball. A Matt Bonner archtype (also played under Billy Donovan at Florida).
DeAndre Daniels (UConn) 6-7 191: a player that can defend every position, has an improving jumper and is a great athlete.
*denotes underclassmen who have not yet declared for the draft