Posted by Kevin Arnovitz on Wed, 06/11/08, 07:49am:
From Abrams in this morning's LAT:
The Clippers, who have the seventh pick of the upcoming NBA draft, are looking for one, and after seeing Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless over the weekend they held their first mass workout on Tuesday.
The big collegiate names who attended were guards Russell Westbrook of UCLA, Chase Budinger of Arizona and forward Anthony Randolph of Louisiana State. Prospects on hand expected to go later in the draft were Malik Hairston, J. Gordon and Justin Hawkins.
Coach Mike Dunleavy said that the Clippers would entertain offers to move up in the draft and that the Miami Heat may shop the second overall selection.
If the Clippers stand pat, they figure to choose among D.J. Augustin, who is short but considered the top pure point guard in the draft, Indiana's Eric Gordon and Westbrook. Bayless is expected to be taken by the time the Clippers pick, as is USC guard O.J. Mayo.
Clipperblog reiterates its belief that, despite Augustin's affinity for breaking down Steve Nash game tape, he's not suited to the pro game. When Kansas' zone befuddles you both as a scorer and a distributor, when you can't fight through a Big-12 screen, there's just not that much opportunity at the next level. Having Augustin at the point and Thornton at the 3 would also force the Clippers' hand defensively at the off-guard. I know, I know. Orlando manages to do it with Jameer Nelson with Hedo Turkoglu at the small forward -- but the Clippers can't afford to give a defender like Keith Bogans [or Quinton Ross] substantial time at the 2 because they don't have a coherent offensive scheme right now.
To be sure, you'll read all sorts of affable pre-draft interviews with Augustin over the next few weeks. Invariably, they will include quotes from Augustin saying things like "People say I'm too small to play at the next level, but I think heart counts for more than size..." That's a nice sentiment. But you can appreciate Augustin's collegiate game and oversized cardiac muscle and still recognize that there's a chasm of difference between Chris Paul and Damon Stoudamire [that's optimistic].
The Clippers achieved some measure of success a couple seasons ago with big guard play. And so long as they remain a below-average passing team [but a roster with some good one-on-one isolators/post players], that's the path of least resistance back to respectability. Better to have a larger combo guard with good judgment [Westbrook] than a undersized PG with questionable decision-making skills.