2014 NBA Draft Targets LA Clippers Must Keep an Eye On
The Los Angeles Clippers have many needs this offseason, and one major asset they have is the 28th pick in the NBA draft. Widely regarded as a deep and fantastic draft class, the Clippers have the chance to add desperately needed youth and athleticism.
Additionally, Doc Rivers has multiple needs he must address this summer. Backup point guard, length and defense on the perimeter and reserve bigs are all high priorities.
While we will not know who is on the board until draft night, these are five names you should absolutely keep an eye on heading into the draft.
Glenn Robinson III
The Los Angeles Clippers have been searching for help at small forward for the past few years. While Glenn Robinson III might not be able to crack Doc Rivers’ rotation early in the year, he certainly has the attributes the team needs on the perimeter.
Defending and scoring from the small forward spot has consistently been a problem. The team has desperately needed an influx of athleticism and length at the position, and Robinson III would bring that in spades. Robinson recorded a 41.5-inch max vertical and measured an impressive 6’10” wingspan.
Although Robinson has struggled with his jumper, he shows good form on his shot and will likely be able to improve with more work on his mechanics along with plenty of repetition. His length and athleticism would provide Rivers with additional options defending the long forwards who have given the Clippers fits.
Darren Collison opted out of the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, making the backup point guard position one of the most important needs this summer. Shabazz Napier could provide a bit of what the team lost when Collison hit free agency. He is quick, can play off the ball and plays good defense.
Napier’s stock has been on the rise since his performance in the NCAA tournament. Like Collison, he is more of a scoring guard, but he can shoot from deep. He is quick but also a bit undersized. The major plus is Napier’s stellar defensive abilities and how well he can get to the rim.
The Clippers could use a lockdown defender behind Chris Paul. Napier’s presence would allow Rivers to play Napier next to Paul in small, athletic lineups. This is possible because Napier can be a pest on the ball, allowing Paul to jump into passing lanes while defending shooting guards.
Much like Glenn Robinson III, Cleanthony Early is a high-flying athletic small forward. Unlike Robinson III, Early has proved to be a deadly shooter from deep. Doc Rivers likes to keep the floor spread around Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, and Early fits that role well.
While old for his class, entering the draft at the age of 23, Early certainly can play a role early in his career due to his shooting. Although he is not quite the defender one would hope, considering his athletic ability, his willingness to rebound allows him to play both small forward and power forward in the NBA.
The real question will be if the Los Angeles Clippers want to use a pick on player who is already 23 and does not have many ball skills, over a younger player with just as much athleticism and more potential.
Quick, name one Los Angeles Clippers reserve big still under contract for the 2014-15 season? Trick question, there are none. Finding a legitimate backup for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan has been a top priority the last two seasons. So far, the Clippers have struck out on all their attempts.
Jarnell Stokes might be a bit undersized to play power forward in the NBA, as he measured 6’8.5” at the NBA combine. However, he is extremely strong, physical and was an excellent rebounder at the University of Tennessee. The Clippers need to address their rebounding problems and Stokes could be part of the solution.
The problem comes offensively, as he is not much of a threat outside the paint. He rarely shoots jumpers and prefers to do his damage around the rim and from the offensive glass. Will Doc Rivers be able to play him meaningful minutes as a small power forward with Blake Griffin at center? If the answer is yes, then he could make sense with the 28th pick.
Perhaps the most intriguing player outside the lottery, Kyle Anderson has the vision and skills of a point guard, but in a 6’8” frame. Nicknamed “Slo-mo,” because of his slow and patient game, he is far from one of the top athletes in the draft. In fact, this is the reason why the skilled forward is considered a late first-round pick.
Regardless, Anderson is very capable of being a productive player in the NBA, despite his lack of defensive ability. His shooting improved considerably, from 21.1 percent from three as a freshman to 48.3 percent as a sophomore. Finding the right system will be crucial for Anderson’s future, and Doc Rivers might be able to capitalize on his strengths.
The team’s need for a versatile small forward is pressing. Anderson is definitely capable of playing with the ball in his hands, despite his lack of athleticism. His start and go moves combined with his length allow him to use angles and hesitations to score and create space.