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. And though they may not be the right ones, I’ve got answers. If you missed the five questions in part 1, you can read here. Here are the next five:
1. Why am intrigued by Isaiah Austin? Is one eye that big a deal for a backup center if he’s a legitimate 7-footer?
You just fell into the same trap everyone else did when they saw him in high school. That was back when Austin was a consensus top-five recruit and was supposed to be a guaranteed one-and-done, a likely lottery pick. Now, he sits as a fringe first-rounder. But why? Basically, Austin looks good in performing quite averagely.
He seems like someone who can be a pick-and-pop big man because he’s a seven-footer, who takes jumpers and threes, but he doesn’t actually make many of them. He tends to get bullied around the paint when he has the ball. He averaged 4.4 blocks per 40 minutes, but lunged for every potential contest he possibly could, finding himself out of place on the defensive end more often than not. That’s part of how his rebounding numbers went all the way down to 7.8 per 40 minutes as a sophomore.
If Austin ever puts it all together, he could become a tremendous steal late in the first round or early in the second, but is that ever really going to happen? We’ve been waiting on him for two years now and haven’t even seen much improvement. And all this is ignoring the fact that he is blind in one eye. If you need peripheral vision to play help defense, how is he going to fair without half of his? We’ve all fallen into the Austin trap, and eventually, we all wiggle out of it.
2. How big of a difference is there between Adreian Payne and Patric Young?
They’re incomparable. The biggest similarity between the two of them is the red underlines under their first names, but that’s really it. Check out my answer to question four in part 1 of this question-answer, and you can see everything Payne does. Mainly, we’re talking about loads of offensive skill against not much at all.
Young is more of an athletic Reggie Evans whose offensive game extends to about two feet. He’s got that insanely ripped body, the hand size and the 7-foot-2 wingspan. But unlike Evans, he’s not an elite rebounder, just a decent one, pulling down 14.3 percent of available boards last year at Florida. For someone with his skill set, you probably want that number to be north of 15 percent.
He does, however, understand how to play defense and is a capable shot blocker. Young could end up sticking on a roster and becoming a defensive-minded big man to help off a team’s bench, but if we’re matching him up him with Payne, the skill sets don’t compare.
3. The Clippers have no second round picks this year. Who is one guy that will go in the second round/undrafted that is worth buying a pick?
I’m going to cheat and say a few guys, and I don’t care that I’m failing to answer the question.
Vasilije Micic, Jabari Brown, Deonte Burton, DeAndre Daniels, Glenn Robinson III, Spencer Dinwiddie, Johnny O’Bryant, Markel Brown, DeAndre Kane, and I will add one guy who isn’t in any mock drafts, but should be in Las Vegas or Orlando Summer League: Xavier Thames from San Diego State. OK, it’s time for the Xavier Thames rant.
Thames is a senior from SDSU who never really figured out how to be efficient until his final collegiate year. By that time, he was too old to be an intriguing prospect. Now, he’ll be 23 as he enters the draft, but we’re talking about a likely undrafted free agent, and someone who actually has a chance to stick in the league now. Yes, you heard me. Xavier Thames could be the undrafted guy from this year who actually makes it in the NBA.
When we talk about Thames finding his efficiency, it’s not just about his true shooting climbing to 56 percent or his PER getting all the way up to 26.5 in his senior season. (It had never been above the league-average 15.0 before this past year, by the by.) It’s also about controlling possessions.
Thames didn’t become a better shooter. He became a better decision-maker.
As a 6-foot-3 combo guard with legitimate size for an NBA point, his turnovers went down to 1.8 per 40 minutes as a senior. Meanwhile, he’s spent time learning the pick-and-roll from Steve Fisher, still one of the most underrated coaches in the country after all these years of success. Thames became a heavy screen-and-roll player in college, and gave the ball away on only 4.3 percent of his pick-and-roll possessions. Of every player in the nation who ran the pick-and-roll at least 2.5 times a game (Thames ran it three times that amount), literally no one had a better turnover rate than him.
There’s no risk in signing an undrafted free agent to your summer league team. The Clippers, who will be searching for another point guard, should give Thames an opportunity.
4. Who will be the better prospect? Jordan Adams, P.J. Hairston or Reggie Bullock?
Hairston has the highest ceiling after his consistent production in the D-League last year. Adams has the lowest floor, because of his athleticism. Bullock may be the safest, because he’s more of a known quantity to the Clippers. That said, there is something interesting about Jordan Adams. Maybe it’s the shooting. Maybe it’s his ability to find success without all that much quickness. But there’s a pretty decent chance Adams becomes a contributing NBA scorer. We may not be able to say the same for Bullock.
5. Kevin Arnovitz says if you have to ask whether they’re a small forward or a power forward, they’re a power forward. Does this apply to Cleanthony Early?
In a way. Early is the classic tweener. At 6-foot-7, he has the ball-handling skills of a power forward but the size and inside presence of a 3. But he can shoot, and that changes everything. If we’re going to see Early find success in the league, it could end up being as a small-ball 4 coming off the bench. After improving his three-point shooting to 38 percent in his final season at Wichita State, becoming a stretch power forward seems like the most fitting role for him as a pro.
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