ClipperBlog managing editor Andrew Han wants to learn about the 2014 NBA Draft. We’re here to teach. Now, with the draft coming up on June 26, Andrew has 10 questions. Five will run Wednesday, another five Thursday. And though they may not be the right ones, I’ve got answers.
1. So the draft isn’t as vaunted as preseason experts thought it would be. How good is the draft class? Deeper than 2013?
Well, Dude Where’s My Car had more emotional depth than the 2013 draft had talent depth. So yes, we’ll probably see a more impressive crop this year than last year. Guys who could go at the end of the first round can actually become contributors right off the bat.
Shabazz Napier is a bomber with NBA range. K.J. McDaniels has the length and athleticism to turn into a real NBA defender, and even some of the lesser known international guys who will go in the second round, like Vasa Micic (passing) and Walter Tavares (sheer size), have attributes that could help turn them into contributors. This draft probably isn’t what everyone thought it would be a year ago, but it’s still loaded with talent at the top and deep enough to produce legitimate players late.
2. Who makes a better backup point guard: Delonte West or DeAndre Kane/Shabazz Napier/Jordan Clarkson/other?
This question stems from the Clippers inviting West to play on their team during July’s Las Vegas Summer League.
I’ll take the proven guy over the risk most of the time. We know West can play in the NBA. We just haven’t seen him do it recently. Napier, Clarkson and Kane all have one major flaw working against them from a prospect perspective: they’re old. Napier and Clarkson are both 22. Kane, meanwhile, is 25.
25! Who does he think he is? Chris Weinke?
Those guys, Kane especially, are far closer to their primes than you may want a prospect to sit. That’s why we always see underclassmen get scooped up before the seniors start to make their run later in the draft. It may be more prudent to go with the guy who, though he hasn’t played in the league for two years, we know can stand the rigors of an NBA season. Plus, the fact that he’s already played for Doc Rivers doesn’t hurt.
3. The Clippers should trade Reggie Bullock if they can get at least pick X.
Something in the first round. Bullock may have been the No. 25 pick last year, but that was in a weaker draft. Though he could still end up being a piece who could help down the line, he didn’t show all that much as a rookie, struggling to bust into the rotation while still working on team defense concepts. If a solid big man or wing player falls to the 20s and the Clippers have a chance to trade Bullock for a pick, that may be a move they’d want to make. But let’s not restrict it just to the first round.
In some ways, the No. 1 pick in the second round is more valuable than the last one in the first, if only because those contracts aren’t guaranteed. Depending on who’s there, that wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world, either.
4. The one non-top-10 draftee the Clippers should target is who?
Please oh, please oh, please let Adreian Payne fall. If Payne slips, and the Clippers can slide up for him, that’s the move. This has to happen. It must.
What was the Clippers’ biggest weakness last year? The lack of a third big man. Well, Payne could probably fill every hole the Clips dug with that void on the roster.
He’s a 6-foot-10, 240-pound body with a 7-foot-4 wingspan who understands how to play team defense. He already defends pick-and-rolls like an NBA power forward, but that’s what Tom Izzo does at Michigan State. He teaches and develops talent like few others. He hit 42 percent of his threes and has NBA range. He sets hard screens and pops off them to find open spots on the floor intuitively. He’s size plus grit plus skill plus smarts. In the NBA, that formula equals wins.
If Payne had developed quicker than he actually did in college, he would’ve been a guaranteed lottery pick. But he took a little longer. Now, he’s a 23-year-old, but that’s fine. The Clippers are ready to contend now. If they can get someone who can contribute right away, they should go for it, and if Payne falls into the late teens or even the 20s, we could end up looking back on this draft wondering how in the world that happened.
5. It seems like there is not a lot of difference in talent rated between picks ~20 and 45. Should the Clippers buy as many picks as possible? Is there a point to move from 28 to 20?
Sure, buy away. Spend your allotted $3 million, but that may not be a realistic scenario. Clippers fans can be excited about the prospect of Steve Ballmer and his potentially heavy-spending ways, but he’s not the owner of the Clippers just yet, and buying a pick is a move that requires ownership approval – or in this case, Dick Parsons approval.
We’re staring at an odd scenario, an unprecedented situation which makes it hard to predict exactly how the Clippers will manage their money. But if they’re willing and able to buy picks so that they can deepen their roster, then why the heck not?