Who Is L.A. Clippers' Long-term Answer At Shooting Guard?

Jeff NisiusContributor IIMarch 26, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 04:  Eric Bledsoe #12 of the Los Angeles Clippers smiles during a 107-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The talent at shooting guard is lacking around the NBA, and the Los Angeles Clippers are no different than most other teams. 

Currently, the Clippers have no long-term solution to solve their problems at the position. The team has employed a glut of out-of-position players next to Chris Paul, but the team lacks a player who can hit an open three and help Paul defend the perimeter.

First, Chauncey Billups, who is a career 38-percent shooter from behind the arc, is aging and only on a one-year deal. There is no guarantee Billups returns next season, and even if he did, he is definitely not part of the long-term solution for the Clippers.

Next, Jamal Crawford is a quality combo guard but is clearly better playing with the second unit. Crawford’s shot selection leaves a lot to be desired, but his ability to score at will makes him a perfect candidate to remain coming off the bench over the next few years.

Finally, there is Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe is an athletic marvel but does not have the offensive prowess to be converted into a shooting guard. In fact, the case can be made that he really is not yet a point guard either.

Furthermore, Bledsoe’s name will be a hot one this summer, as the Clippers could decide to trade him before he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. This is an interesting option, because the Clippers surely would be interested in dealing Bledsoe for a shooting guard or draft picks.

In all likelihood, the Clippers solution at shooting guard could come thanks to Bledsoe. The most likely scenario is that a shooting guard is drafted this summer. Players such as Michigan State’s Gary Harris, Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin and San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin are a few of the names that could interest the Clippers’ front office.

All three players are capable of being solid defenders and each brings his own unique quality to the table. Harris is a solid shooter and proven to be a clutch performer despite being a freshman. Goodwin would bring Eric Bledsoe-like athleticism to the position. Franklin is an excellent rebounding guard and would help shore up some of the Clippers' rebounding problems as a team.

Another scenario is that the Clippers trade or attempt to sign a starter at the position this summer. However, with L.A. nearing the luxury tax, it remains to be seen how much money the team is willing to spend on the position. Regardless, the team needs a solution as soon as possible.

For an example of how desperately the Clippers need a quality shooting guard for the future, look at the breakdown by position from 82games. The shooting guard position has taken the most shots on the team, yet only managed a .504 effective field goal percentage. Additionally, the position is shooting a miserable 15 percent on shots close to the basket.

While the Clippers have enough depth at shooting guard this year to make a postseason run, the future of the position needs to be addressed immediately. With Chris Paul likely to re-sign this summer, it certainly would not hurt for him to know whom his future backcourt partner will be. Jamal Crawford looks to be entrenched as the team’s sixth man going forward, but a future starter is very high on the list of areas that need to be addressed.