The Los Angeles Clippers only own one pick in the 2014 NBA draft, No. 28, but should have these next three players at the top of their big board. Honestly, the team is lacking young, athletic talent after Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Additionally, the team has needs at nearly every position and might not be able to afford passing on the best player available for a system or positional fit.
I firmly believe in drafting the best player available, regardless, because in the NBA, one player can change the fortunes of a franchise in an instant. One of the next three players could be on the board when the Clippers make their selection. If so, they should not hesitate to take any of them.
Perhaps the most intriguing player in this draft class outside the lottery, Kyle Anderson combines the vision of a point guard in the body of a non-athletic power forward. Many comparisons have been thrown around when discussing Anderson, but one fits rather accurately: Boris Diaw.
To be fair, Anderson is a long and slender 6’8.5” but not as physically imposing as Diaw has become. Yet, he still finds ways to impact the game in multiple ways. Also, Anderson’s excellent length—7’2.5” wingspan and 8’11.5” standing reach—allows him to finish around the basket and get his shot off against opposing athletic wings.
The real beauty in Anderson’s game comes when the ball is in his hands. Nicknamed “slo-mo,” because looks like he is moving in slow motion, Anderson seems to find a way to get to the rim using his excellent handles combined with stutter steps, ball and head fakes, jab steps and excellent footwork. He is very adept at using angles to his advantage to get where he needs to on the floor.
Once he breaks down his defender, his vision makes him a dangerous weapon, and he might be the best passer in the draft. Not only can he create for himself and others, but he became a good spot-up shooter this season at UCLA, shooting 48.3 percent from three despite attempting only 58 threes.
Unfortunately, defense is a major issue.
Anderson does not have the athleticism to defend NBA small forwards and probably power forwards as well. He does have some strength, despite his frame, but would struggle mightily defending the post against physical players like Griffin, David West and Zach Randolph. Who he defends will be a serious question and might keep him off the floor for some teams.
We are going to play a quick game. Compare the statistics of these two players in the table below.
Player A? Julius Randle. Player B? Jarnell Stokes. As you can see, this is why sports nerds, like me, love Stokes. Analytically, he matches up nearly identical to Randle. Additionally, despite leaving Tennessee after his junior season, Stokes is only 10 months older than Randle.
While he might not be as skilled as Randle is, he is very physical in the post, using his strength to bully his way to the rim and crashing the glass. His strength allowed him to become one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation, pulling down 155 for the season.
While he isn’t much of an offensive threat outside the paint, Stokes does have decent footwork in the post, which allows him to use his strength to his advantage. If he can develop a mid-range jumper, he could become a very useful player offensively.
Defensively, he can hold his own against most power forwards, despite measuring at only 6’8.5”. Again, his body size and strength make it difficult for opposing players to score effectively against him in the paint. Meanwhile, his lengthy 7’1.25” wingspan allows him to defend larger players and contest shots on the perimeter.
Despite playing a mere 198 minutes due to a back injury, Mitch McGary’s talent and effort still land him as a first-round pick. The Clippers desperately need some help in the frontcourt, and McGary would provide the team with a big, athletic center who is willing to defend and rebound.
The Clippers could especially use help on the glass, as they finished 26th in defensive rebound percentage, according to Basketball-Reference.com. McGary would be an instant contributor in that regard, as he plays with high energy and crashes the glass hard.
His offensive game is composed of scoring in transition, off cuts and from offensive rebounds. His size and solid athleticism allow him to finish at the rim through contact. Much like Jordan, McGary will not be asked to do much offensively outside of screening and pulling down offensive rebounds, but he would be a staple of Doc Rivers’ defensive system.
Although he does not possess elite height or length, measuring 6’10.5” with a 6’11” wingspan, McGary’s hustle and energy combine with his quick feet to make him a solid defender. That same agility and energy make him an ideal pick-and-roll partner for point guards like Chris Paul.
The main concerns revolve around his back issues and how they will impact him going forward.