Sometimes, we get locked into pessimism. We talk about the biggest busts of all-time, but we hardly mention who were the Los Angeles Clipper greats.
It’s time to change that, especially when the best draft pick of all-time conversation is much more trickier than who was the worst — Michael Olowokandi with the first pick in the 1998 draft. I’ve never seen an NBA busts list without Olowokandi and never expect to.
Since not every LA pick is still with the Clippers (the first draft pick was in 1970 so it isn’t humanly possible) and there are players currently in the league who were drafted but have moved on since then, I am only going to look at stats and accomplishments while they were in a Clippers’ uniform.
This just got even more difficult since the Clippers are not associated with great teams and winning seasons, until recently.
With that said — who is the best?
I’ll give a list of five nominees and you, the reader and Fully Clips follower, have the opportunity to pick the best Clippers’ draft pick of all-time.
The 6-foot 9-inch power forward/ center was the second pick in the 1972 NBA draft to become the third player drafted to the then-Buffalo Braves, which became an NBA franchise in 1970.
McAdoo quickly became not only one of the greatest Clippers of all-time, but an NBA great. In his four year Buffalo career (1972-76) he won the 1973 NBA Rookie of the Year award, was a three time NBA All-Star, led the league in scoring from 1973 to 1976 and topped his stint off with an NBA MVP trophy after the 1975 season.
He is the only player in league history to average 30 points and 15 rebounds per game for an entire season after 1973. Let’s face it, we all know what Wilt Chamberlain was doing before 1973. In his MVP season, McAdoo didn’t let up any as he scored 34.5 points, grabbed 14.1 rebounds and had 2.12 blocks per game. The McAdoo led Braves were the franchises only three playoff berths (73-76) until the 1991-92 season.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has two players in it drafted by the Clippers/Braves, McAdoo was the first.
In 2003 the Clippers grabbed a 7-foot center from Central Michigan University named Chris Kaman with the sixth pick. Kaman spent the next eight years as a top option for the Clippers and a top center in the NBA before being traded to the New Orleans Hornets in the Chris Paul deal.
Kaman started his career off slow, but found his niche in the low post before he was wrote off in LA. In the 2007-08 season he averaged 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds while blocking 2.8 shots per game. He was awarded with an All-Star selection in 2010 for another fantastic stat line of 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.
The Los Angeles Clippers best regular season record to date is 47-35 in the 2005-06 season in which Kaman played a major role.
Vaught is the only nominee who never made it to some level of status beyond solid NBA player. He was never an All-Star or a major cog on a bottom-feeder playoff team in the Western Conference during his tenure 1990-98.
On the other hand, he is one of the most consistent players in Clippers history and one of the few draft picks who lasted more than five seasons — Kaman is also one. In fact, he wasn’t even the first choice of the Clippers in the 1990 draft as they choose Vaught with with 13 pick, five behind Bo Kimble — who never panned out.
From 1993 to 1997 Vaught put up 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds per contest including two consecutive seasons of 15 plus points and 10 rebounds from 1995 to 1997. When no one else wanted to play for the Los Angeles Lakers “little brothers”, Vaught did and did it well.
The three-point bombing power forward came into the league with a boom scoring 23.7 points and grabbing 10.4 rebounds per game in his rookie season of 1982-83. The second pick of the 1982 draft was then rightfully named the Rookie of the Year.
Cummings was only around for one more season after his debut in which he laced box scores with an average of 22.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
In his 18-year career, he was never able to match the numbers he had with the San Diego Clippers in the early 1980’s.
If you didn’t have Griffin on your “I think he should be on this list” list, then you have not been watching NBA basketball for the past two seasons. Griffin has been electric to say the least for the city of Los Angeles and the NBA in general. There is only four people in the NBA with bigger names than him: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard. If there was a fifth, it would be Dwyane Wade, but Griffin is either at his level — on the casual fan knowing who you are, not skill level — or beyond because of his dunking ability.
***NOTE: Griffin has a ways to go to be mentioned in the same breath as these gentleman as basketball players.
In only two seasons, Griffin has won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, been a two-time All-Star and helped the Clippers, with Chris Paul, get the Clippers back to the playoffs this past season for the first time in five seasons.
He has been in the top 10 in points, rebounds, minutes played, free-throw attempts, games played, field goal percentage, player efficiency rating and field goals since he has been in the league.
Players Drafted by the Clippers but didn’t become good/great players until they left:
Dantley was the rookie of the year in 1977 and looked to have the Braves back on track after the Bob McAdoo area. Have no fear, the Braves traded him after one season. He went on to be a great scorer and the second Hall of Fame draft pick from the franchise.
The Blake Griffin of the early 1980’s didn’t come in to his own in his two seasons with the Clippers (1981-83), but with the Seattle Super Sonics and the Philadelphia 76ers afterwards. He finished his career as a 4x All-Star.
Scott never played a single minute with the Clippers as he was traded to the Lakers soon after he was made the 4th pick in the 1983 draft. He went on to win three NBA Championships with the Lakers.
With all the information noted, who is the best Clippers’ draft pick of all-time?
Tags: Adrian Dantley Blake Griffin Bob McAdoo Buffalo Braves Byron Scott Central Michigan University Chris Kaman Chris Paul Dwight Howard Dwyane Wade Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant Lebron James Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers Loy Vaught Michael Olowokandi Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame NBA NBA All-Star NBA Champion NBA MVP Philadelphia 76ers San Diego Clippers Seattle Super Sonics Terry Cummings Tom Chambers Wilt Chamberlain