Written by Duncan Lambert (@bigdaddylambert)
Hello there sports fans, T.I.N.A.S.S intern BigDaddy here with you for a little preview of a much larger article I’m working on for the upcoming NBA draft. As soon as the Clippers secured the 12th and 13th picks this year questions and rumors began to fly about if the Clippers will try to trade up for a high lottery pick. I am here to explicitly say they SHOULD keep their 12th and 13th picks. For my forthcoming article I’ll be expanding on what every team SHOULD do, not necessary what they will do (i.e. a mock draft).
Realistically the Clippers have the greatest chance of moving up by trading the 12th and 13th picks for the Dallas Mavericks 5th overall pick. Owner Mark Cuban and Head Coach (for now) Rick Carlisle have resisted tanking for the most part until this season and there have been rumors that the Mavs are interested in becoming relevant again sooner rather than later. If that is the case they could avoid drafting more of a project in Mo Bamba or Michael Porter Jr. at number 5 and drop back to take more experienced players who could contribute earlier or possibly parlay those 12th and 13th picks into a player already established in the NBA.
Let’s assume the Clippers would be able to move up to the 5th pick in this draft. There are 2 main reasons LA should hold onto the 12th and 13th picks: 1) very good players are always available at that point in the draft; and 2) the types of players you want in today’s NBA will still be available.
To expand on reason 1 let’s take a quick look back at past drafts for evidence that draft steals often occur at the end of the lottery. Starting in 2010 I compared the careers of the 5th overall picks against the careers of the 12th and 13th picks. Here’s what I got:
There we have it, 6 out of the 8 years the 12th/13th picks were comparably better than the 5th pick. Now you may say the results are skewed because I compare two careers together versus only one by itself but that is a major part of the idea behind this article: TWO PICKS IS BETTER THAN ONE. It is wildly unrealistic to think that a team won’t pick a bust, therefore hedge your bets: take as many shots in the draft as possible (and poor one out for my man Sam Hinkie). The main point remains however that very good talent is almost always still left at the end of the lottery. The greatest evidence from this table may be from a year ago: De’Aaron Fox (2017’s 5th pick) looks to have a very bright future ahead of him but nobody would take him over Donovan Mitchell if they were redrafted. Well, actually I won’t speak for David Khan.
Now that we’ve established that very productive players can be taken at 12 and 13, what kind of player’s should the Clips be targeting? Well you know all the talk about how the Celtics and Warriors were ahead of the curve for drafting lots of long athletes that could switch to guard multiple positions? What the fuck is taking everyone else so long? There are somehow some “analysts” (emphasis on the quotations) who realize that this is the future of basketball who are also saying that DeAndre Ayton should be picked #1. Uhhh pardon?! A) These people are morons. B) They clearly have not caught word that I’m the one who’s saying what teams SHOULD do in the draft. (There’s a steaming pile of foreshadowing for you). For real though, the biggest hole in Ayton’s game is his defense and Boston is 1 win away from the finals because of the defense their young guys can play.
Anyways, there is a realistic possibility that after 11 picks Miles Bridges, Kevin Knox, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will all still be available. Knox and Gilgeous-Alexander, both Kentucky products, will soon combine natural length and athleticism with increased defensive awareness to become weapons on the defensive end of the floor. While Miles Bridges is not as long he’s a strong, physical, elite athlete who should be able to guard multiple positions as well.
Offensively, it’s no secret Gilgeous-Alexander’s jumper needs work but Bridges and Knox both shot over 34% from 3 in college. For reference Jaylen Brown shot 29% from 3 in his one year at Cal. While Porter JR is hailed as an elite two-way prospect he has also only played 2 competitive basketball games since high school and did not impress in either to say the least. As for Mo Bamba, the player he is most often compared to, Rudy Gobert, was basically useless in the playoffs this year against the Rockets and last year against the Warriors. Of course, all three of those prospects could be off the board by then, but similar potential 3 and D players will still be available. Can I interest you in Oregon’s Troy Brown JR.? How about Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop? Dzanan Musa? Jacob Evans? Shake Milton? Hell I don’t care you could even grab the Ukrainmaker, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, for all I care. Just hold onto those damn picks and draft some two-way wings!!!
So there you have it folks! The LA Clippers should hold onto their two lottery picks, send a thank you to Stan van Gundy for sacrificing his time in Detroit to hand them the 12th pick, and sit back and watch athletic, long, two-way players fall into their laps.
Duncan the Intern just finished his third year at Bishop’s University where he literally only shoots threes for the varsity men’s basketball (seriously you can look it up). He firmly believes that the ‘85-‘86 Celtics are the greatest NBA team of all team and that Elon Musk is a real life super villain. Blog boy for life.