If you don’t remember Alex Acker, all that means is that you’re normal.
The former guard played 18 games for the Clippers back in the 2008-09 season, averaging 9.9 minutes per game in those uneventful appearances. He hasn’t played in the NBA since.
The Clips acquired Acker from the Pistons (along with a future second rounder that turned into Trey Thompkins) for a 2013 second rounder. But that 2013 second-round pick was conditional. If it fell before the 56th overall pick, it stayed with the Clippers; 56 or later and the pick got shipped off to Detroit.
So when the Clippers “won” a coin flip that gave them the 25th pick and pushed the Memphis Grizzlies to the 26th pick, they may not have actually won much at all. The rules on a coin flip say that the winner gets to pick first in the first round and the loser gets to pick first in the second round. That left the Grizzlies with the 55th overall pick and because of that, the Clippers fell to that vaunted number 56.
Bye bye, second round. It was nice knowing you.
The Clips do, however, get that earlier first-round pick. In a draft that isn’t at all riddled with franchise players, there are rotation players a team might be able to find at No. 25. With the NBA Combine taking place in Chicago this past Thursday and Friday, prospects had a chance to start to make a name for themselves. If you’re not particularly well versed in the college/international game, that’s why we have prospect rankings. Here are some impressions that potential 25th picks (or even potential second rounder’s if the Clippers were to buy a pick or make a trade) made:
Rudy Gobert, C, (France)
7-foot-2, 238 pounds
I’m starting with the most unrealistic of all these prospects because I’m a tease and that’s what teases do. Gobert tested off the charts at the Combine. He’s 7-foot-2 with a 7-foot-9 wingspan. Let’s just go over that again: 7-foot-9 wingspan! 7-foot-9 wingspan! According to DraftExpress.com, he’s got the fifth longest wingspan of any player in the database since 1989. His arms are so long that he only needs a three-inch vertical to touch the rim – and that’s because his standing reach is 9-foot-7. He can actually shoot a little bit with a jumper that goes out to 16 feet and for a 20-year-old that is 7-foot-2 and who is supposed to be a project, that’s a pretty good start. So if he somehow falls to 25th or if the Clippers have a chance to trade up just a bit for him, they should Gobert or go home. Also, he has a 7-foot-9 wingspan!
Steven Adams, C, (Pittsburgh)
7-foot, 255 pounds
Adams is also a bit of a project, but he proved to be one of the most athletic centers at the Combine. His max vertical (33 inches) placed him fifth among centers and his times in both the agility drill and the 3/4-court sprint were solid. He’s still only 19 years old and is quite raw in multiple facets of the game, but he can actually shoot a little bit – especially from the elbows. The biggest question about Adams: Can a kid who grew up in New Zealand playing against subpar competition (and often playing against girls) adjust to the talent of the NBA? And unfortunately, he doesn’t have a 7-foot-9 wingspan.
Allen Crabbe, G, (California)
6-foot-6, 197 pounds
Crabbe is the first in a long line of wings the Clippers could take. And in a lot of ways, he makes sense as a Clipper. He’s a shooting guard with a lot of range, one that’s streaky, but one that can catch fire quickly. His 36-inch max vertical was actually better than expected heading into the Combine, though he does rebound pretty well (9.7 percent rebounding rate in his career at Cal). He’s originally from Los Angeles and stayed in state for college. But there’s one big problem with Crabbe: he’s a dreadful defender. You can take the shooting, but you might have to deal with points on the other end and on nights when Crabbe isn’t hitting his shots, he’s not going to provide much.
Ricky Ledo, G, (Providence)
6-foot-6, 197 pounds
What is Ricardo Ledo? Excuse me, I guess now he’s Ricky Ledo. He’s is a total mystery. After sitting out his freshman year at Providence, he declared for the NBA Draft. He was the No. 6 recruit in the high school class of 2012 according to the Rivals 150. The little we do know about Ledo says that he’s probably bound to be a combo guard. He’s played plenty of point guard, but measured at 6-foot-6 in shoes at the Combine. That allows for versatility. Can he play point guard in the NBA? We’re not sure. Can he play shooting guard? We’re not sure. Can he guard small forwards? We’re not sure. Ledo is a relative unknown, but judging from his high school career, he could be worth taking a flyer on late in the first round or early in the second when a team doesn’t have to commit a roster spot to him.
Archie Goodwin, G, (Kentucky)
6-foot-5, 189 pounds
You’ve got to love the Archie Goodwin school of logic. After Kentucky lost to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT, Goodwin said, “There’s no reason any of our guys should leave. We should come back next year…and just try to do better”. Goodwin was kind of right. His teammates did stay. Projected first-round pick Alex Poythress returned for his sophomore season. Will Cauley-Stein elected to stay in Lexington. But then Goodwin entered the draft anyway, presumably because Kentucky has such a good recruit class coming in that he’d rightfully worry about playing time. So because he didn’t want to compete against high schoolers in practice, he decided going against NBA competition was the better choice. Goodwin measured well at the combine (6-foot-10 wingspan and a 36-inch max vertical), but his skill set still needs plenty of work. As Fran Fraschilla noted at the combine, he shot only 27 percent on jumpers this season and he consistently takes bad shots. He’s athletic, but hasn’t yet figured out how to hone that athleticism. But with an NBA body and the ability to guard multiple positions, he could be a good, late pick if he ever puts it all together.
Glenn Rice Jr., G, (NBDL)
6-foot-6, 211 pounds
Coming straight out of the NBDL, Rice is one of the more interesting prospects in this year’s draft. He was kicked off the team at Georgia Tech after proving to be not the best of citizens. Instead of entering the NBA Draft last year, he went straight to the NBDL. After a rough start, Rice averaged 18.0 points per game after February and rebounded well. He tested well at the Combine – no surprise considering he’s an excellent athlete. His 40.5-inch vertical can attest to that. Like Goodwin, he’s a bit of work with the more mental parts of the game, but also like Goodwin, if he can put it all together, he could turn into a quality rotation player.
Tony Mitchell, F, (North Texas)
6-foot-9, 236 pounds
Mitchell probably hurt himself staying in school for his sophomore season. Had he come out last year, he could’ve been a lottery pick. This year, that’s not so true. As a sophomore, virtually all of his numbers dropped. Against the North Texas-like competition that he saw at – guess where – North Texas, he should’ve been able to dominate offensively. But he wasn’t. (He posted 44-30-68 shooting numbers last year.) Mitchell takes too many bad jumpers and hasn’t fully learned how to play the game, but he absolutely has to be classified under the title of “athlete”. He can run the floor and – as we learned Friday – he has a 38-inch vertical. That may not seem too crazy in a draft class that has 10 players with 40-inch verticals or better (10 players!), but think about it like this: From 2009-2011, only seven players had max verticals better than 40 inches. Only one player in ’09 (Jonny Flynn) and only one player in 2010 (Terrico White) got to that 40-inch milestone. 38 inches is strong and for a forward with his running ability and a 7-foot-3 wingspan, that means he could be headed for a career centered around perimeter defense and transition buckets. Hmmm…I wonder with whom that fits in well.
Jamaal Franklin, G, (San Diego State)
6-foot-5, 191 pounds
Let’s settle one thing right now: Franklin is the best wing rebounder in this year’s draft. That’s a no-brainer. He’s brilliant coming in from the perimeter and getting position. That’s how you average 9.5 rebounds per game (while playing 33.1 minutes a night) as a shooting guard. He’s a relatively strong defender on the wing and his wingspan measured at 6-foot-11 at the Combine. That means he’ll be able to check NBA players on the perimeter. Like Mitchell, Franklin takes too many jumpers and doesn’t make enough of them. So many make the superficial Kawhi Leonard comparison. (That’s easy since they’re both former Aztecs. I’ve actually fallen victim to this, too.) Kawhi couldn’t shoot in college either and look at what happened with the Spurs. There are subtle differences, though. Leonard was actually a decent jump shooter in high school. When San Antonio scouts looked at his high school tape, they realized they could adjust his form to shoot like he did back then and not so much like he did in college. It worked – clearly. Franklin doesn’t have as obvious of a fix. His shots just don’t go in from the perimeter. But he is excellent going to the rim, getting to the line frequently, and finishing strong around the basket. That skill plus elite rebounding and good defense would make him a steal at No. 25.
James Southerland, F, (Syracuse)
6-foot-8, 221 pounds
Southerland probably falls more into the “if the Clippers were to buy or trade for a second-round pick” category. Pick No. 25 might be a bit too high for him, although we still have plenty of time until June 27th’s draft. (I know what you’re thinking. You scoff at the idea of the Clippers actually buying a second rounder.) One of the many things we’ve learned from the Spurs is that a player with an elite trait can give you value if he’s used the right way. And oh boy, can Southerland shoot. He hit 14 of his 26 threes from NBA range at the Combine. That’s actually not that great, but he looked so comfortable in his shot. He has NBA range and more. Near the end of Syracuse’s season, he was actually spotting up from beyond 30 feet at least once a game. If Steve Novak can have a career, why can’t Southerland, who is more athletic and longer?
James Ennis, G/F, (Long Beach State)
6-foot-7, 206 pounds
Like Southerland, Ennis is probably a trade-up-for-him-in-the-second-round guy. (I guess we’ll just completely throw out the idea of buying a second-round pick here. We are talking about a team that doesn’t buy draft picks.) Ennis learned how to create more on the offensive end in his final year at LBSU, but mainly, he’s a defensive-minded player. When he helped lead the 49ers to a 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament a couple of years ago (the better of the two LBSU teams on which he played), he was the best player in their 1-3-1 zone defense. He’s quick, a good athlete, and has a 6-foot-11 wingspan, but what turns him into a draftable player is his basketball IQ. He’s aggressive, but not to a detriment. He could eventually fit in nicely with a team looking for another perimeter defender – wink, wink.