ClipperBlog managing editor Andrew Han wants to learn about the 2014 NBA Draft. We’re here to teach. Initially, Andrew had 10 questions, but now, with the draft coming up on June 26, he has five more. And though they may not be the right ones, I’ve got answers. In case you missed it, here are the links to part 1 and part 2. Here is part 3:
1. The Clippers need 3&D wings and big men. Which position is deeper in this draft?
The wings. Are there really any appealing bigs who are supposed to be around at pick 28?
Jarnell Stokes? Mitch McGary? Walter Tavares, who’s as raw as Tavares tartar?
The wings, though, could have some value. K.J. McDaniels has a high defensive ceiling. So does Jerami Grant. Jordan Adams could be a two-way player who has some Wes Matthews in him. Glenn Robinson III and P.J. Hairston are athletes with NBA bodies. There are wings out there for the pickings. That may be why the Clippers end up with a perimeter player instead of an interior one.
2. What is the realistic contribution level of any draftee by the Clippers for the upcoming season?
Unless they trade up, it probably won’t be very much. Pick No. 28 usually doesn’t yield top-notch value. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean no one the Clippers get can contribute, but Clippers fans (and sports fans alike) tend to fall victim to the Trey Thompkins Theorem. You know it. The one that tricks fans into thinking every unknown who seems decent will be the answer to any and all problems on the Clippers roster. Whoever the Clippers select could become a contributor down the line, but let’s not turn him into Trey Thompkins in either way.
Maybe though, we can see some great dunks. Two players to watch if the Clippers manage to get a second-round pick are Deonte Burton and Markel Brown. Both of whom may even go undrafted, but those guys are freakishly athletic, scoring guards who could find their ways onto the Clippers’ Las Vegas Summer League team. And they have (probably) the two best career dunks of any two guys in this year’s draft. Take it away, YouTube:
3. What is one handy rule to abide by when drafting late? (i.e. Upside? Need? Upperclassmen?)
When you’re a contender, I’ve always subscribed to the draft-the-most-NBA-ready-prospect-who-still-has-some-upside theory. So, a combination of everything?
The Clippers have a chance to win the West next year, but they also have holes – massive, unavoidable gaps. There’s the lack of a third big man who can play defense and grab rebounds. There is the missing wing defender, backup point guard and rim-protector. And let’s not forget that the championship window may not be open for as long as it may seem.
Chris Paul may only be only 29 years old, but as Ethan Sherwood Straus pointed out on Twitter, “nobody ages worse than short point guards.” Well, except for Keith Richards. Even the great Isiah Thomas couldn’t defeat that logic. The end of Zeke’s prime came at age 28, and he retired when he was just 32. Of course, we’re in a different era with less physical basketball and greater medicinal advances, but Paul already has injury issues. He’s entered the playoffs banged up in some fashion during each of the past three seasons. He’e had serious knee problems. There are already whispers from the ultraparanoid that the Clippers might be prudent to stagger Paul’s playing time throughout the season in part of a not-quite-as-exaggerated-as-Dwyane-Wade strategy. So, if the window is for a few more seasons, maybe NBA-ready prospects should be the priority. That may be why focusing on an Adreian Payne-type or pulling off a deal for Iman Shumpert could be so important. Fix the roster now. Not later.
4. Rivers showed a penchant for using facilitating wings/bigs last season with the reliance on Turkoglu. Therefore, Kyle Anderson?
Andrew, stop pushing UCLA guys who you’re a better athlete than. It’s like “fetch.” It’s not going to happen. It’s nice that Anderson can do everything. He wasn’t a good college player. He was a great one. Really, he was one of the ten best players in the country this past season and there’s no doubt about that. He was an upper middle-class man’s Evan Turner – and that’s not the insult it may sound like. We forget how phenomenal Turner really was at Ohio State.
Anderson averaged 17.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists per 40 minutes this past season. He’s got a natural feel for the game, which made him one of the most fun players in the country to watch, but in some ways, he’s like the Mesopotamian irrigation system: worthy of admiration because of his fluidity and uniqueness, but unable to work in a more high-tech setting. Anderson isn’t an athlete. I have no idea how he’s going to be able to defend or who he would even be supposed to guard. I don’t know how he’d get his offense since he may be too slow of foot to create off the dribble for others. Besides, the Clippers used facilitating bigs this past season because the other options were Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins. They didn’t have much of a choice. If Anderson becomes a real player, I’ll eat my words. I just don’t see how it’s going to happen.
5. Who will be the best player not drafted in the lottery?
If you read part 1 or part 2 or the most recent ClipperBag or watched the ClipperBlog Live draft special, you know my answer to this is Adreian Payne. And if I haven’t been touting Payne, I’ve been doing the same for Tyler Ennis. But those guys are somewhat safe. They’re mature players with high floors, but probably lower ceilings. So, for the sake of making things interesting, let’s change this around a bit and answer who may have the highest ceiling: leader of the Julian Edelman All-Stars for athletes who sound Jewish but aren’t, Zach LaVine. This is a UCLA guy I’ll bite on, Andrew.
LaVine is a superior athlete who showed off a max vertical just under 42 inches at the NBA Combine. He can finish around the rim and he’s already a top shooter with NBA range who loves darting around screens. He drew Russell Westbrook comparisons this year because of the jersey, dunks and abrasive playing style. But you can argue he needed an extra year playing under Steve Alford. Shot selection is a problem along with overdribbling and making improper decisions when running the offense. So is defense, where LaVine tends to get lost whether the Bruins are playing in a man or a zone. If he develops the same intensity and ability on the defensive end as he has when his team has the ball, he could be one of the best players from this draft, but that’s not something we’ve seen from LaVine much just yet.