The NBA draft is much harder to predict than that of the NFL. There are too many underclassman who are to targeted for early selection for a casual NCAA basketball follower to be familiar with all the draft-eligible players.
There are always a few headliners, a few head-scratchers and a few foreign players that are buzz-worthy around this time of year, but we really won’t know who the presumptive top-15 players are until the all-star games and team workouts are complete a few weeks before the draft. So much so that my three attempts at completing a full mock was laughable.
With all these things in mind, I’ve been scouring some mock NBA Drafts with a particular eye for who the various forecasters have the Clippers adding to their roster. Here’s a rundown of 5 such mocks, followed by some of my thoughts on the player’s fit with the Clippers.
NBADraft.net has the Clippers selecting Patrick Patterson, a 6’8″ junior Power Forward from Kentucky. Patterson’s a player I actually saw a few times this year, as I tried to catch John Wall every chance I could. Patterson can run the floor well, has a decent pull-up jumper and is used to playing in a high-tempo style that the Clippers will have to play if they hope to be successful with Baron Davis. Selecting Patterson with the 8th pick (where the Clippers will find themselves if the everyone stays in their current slot) would force the team to give him starter’s minutes, if not an actual starting job, and that would mean they’d have to play him at the three, with Blake Griffin playing the four. I don’t know that Patterson’s defense would allow him to defend some of the quicker threes in the NBA, but Baronball doesn’t exactly require a particular focus to defense. (** FanSided’s own Buckets Over Broadway also has the Clippers selecting Patterson with the eighth pick.)
ESPN’s Chad Ford has the Clippers taking Al-Farouq Aminu, a 6’8″ sophomore Power Forward from Wake Forest. Another under-sized college power forward who would be playing the three in the NBA, Aminu is considered to be one of the top athletes in this year’s draft and has a wingspan that is supposedly 7-feet plus. More athletic than Patterson, Aminu is also a heralded defender who has the athleticism to guard more smaller threes, but he is also a player who is still in need of development to reach his full potential. This could be a detriment depending on who the Clippers make their next head coach, but collegiate players are less and less NBA-ready, so this isn’t a problem that would be unique to Aminu.
DraftExpress.com has the Clippers selecting Wesley Johnson, a 6’7″ junior Small forward from Syracuse. Johnson is an athletic forward who has a better-than-decent jumpshot and superior jumping ability. His game translates well to both up-tempo and half-court offenses but the scouting reports on him say he has a tendency to over-rely on his jump shot and prefers to get to his spot and receive the ball rather than creating off the dribble or getting to the rim and drawing contact (he averaged less than four free throws per game last year). Without a coach and known offensive style for next season, he could be a fit regardless of scheme.
RealGM.com has the Clippers selecting Eric Beldsoe, a 6’1″ freshman Point Guard from Kentucky. Bledsoe is more of a talented basketball player than he is a true point guard, but that’s all that was asked of him in John Calipari’s offense at Kentucky. He also displayed a hard-nosed approach to the games Kentucky played in, which should help his transition to the pro game be a little smoother. I’d estimate that he’s more of a long-term arc guy who can also contribute instantly. In other words, I’m betting that Bledsoe has a limited impact in his rookie year but is a guy who fill blossom into a top-10 point guard within 5 years.
Souring Down South has the Clippers selecting Ed Davis, a 6’10” sophomore Power Forward from North Carolina. Davis is a guy who had more buzz around him after his National Championship freshman season than he did this year, but he’s still a big guy who learned from ex-teammate Tyler Hansbrough and brings a high amount of energy into the game. Davis would also need some of the minutes at the Power Forward that Blake Griffin is slotted for but showed an ability to come off the bench his freshman year and still have an impact on the game.