NBA Pre-Draft Analysis: Los Angeles Clippers

Jeremy SmithContributor IJune 20, 2010

NEW YORK - JUNE 25:  NBA Commissioner David Stern poses for a photograph with the first overall draft pick by the Los Angeles Clippers,  Blake Griffin during the 2009 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 25, 2009 in New York City. 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 Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

This is always fun, the time of year when we all try to figure out how the Clippers are going to screw it up this year. Last year they took the one can't-miss guy in the draft and he never played a minute thanks to an injury. That one isn't exactly the team's fault. But it does kind of feel a little bit like piling on if you're a Clippers fan.

Nonetheless, the roster has promise and a lot of directions it could go at No. 8. The best fit for the Clippers would be Wesley Johnson, who will be long gone by the eighth pick. After that is Al-Farouq Aminu. But the Clippers can probably thank Joe Dumars for robbing them of that opportunity as he seems enchanted by Aminu at pick No. 7. So that brings up a laundry list of names. 

Greg Monroe, Ed Davis, Gordon Hayward and even Paul George have been mentioned here. But Monroe will likely be gone at this point. And that doesn't even take into account the fact that he, and Davis, are power forwards. With Blake Griffin set to make his debut, the Clips really don't need to spend this pick on someone else to take up minutes in the paint. With Griffin and Chris Kaman set as starters down low and Baron Davis and Eric Gordon entrenched in the back court, the glaring hole on the host is quite obviously at the small forward spot. Since I really don't see Los Angeles bringing back Travis Outlaw, that becomes even more of a need position.

ESPN's Chad Ford says it will be Hayward here. And Ford generally knows what he's saying. But what I can't figure out is why there is not more talk about Nevada's Luke Babbitt in this spot. The guy averaged just shy of 22 and 9 during his last season in college. At 6-9 he would seem to have the length to be a versatile player for the Clippers, likely proving capable to absorb some minutes in the post if needed.

But he does not seem to be on L.A.'s radar. So that leaves the aforementioned names of Hayward and George. Hayward seems to make the most sense as he enters with the most refined game. And reports are that Clippers brass feels like he can be a future star in the league. But just how intrigued are the Clippers by George? It certainly seems like he would be a reach here. But history proves the Clippers are not afraid of taking ridiculous chances. Still, I am going to stick with Ford on this one and say that the Clippers go with Hayward here. 

Now that the draft question is answered, that begs the question "Can Donald Sterling lure a big time free agent to the Clippers?"