The Clippers have the 25th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, a much more highly regarded class than 2020 or even 2019. Considering the age of the roster and how many key Clips players are free agents, there’s no area that wouldn’t make sense for the Clippers to target. Therefore, in today’s post, we will look at the stats of big men prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft who are projected to be selected in the first or second round, focusing on those in the Clippers’ range.
As always, the usual schtick: these stats are for college players only (no international players or G-Leaguers), and are per game, not per possession. The numbers are averaged between the last two college seasons the players played, though with how many freshmen there are in this draft, many of the players only have one season to go on.
Interestingly, nearly all of the stats listed above are relevant for big men, with points, three point makes, and free throw makes being the least important, and blocks, turnovers, and rebounds placing towards the top. All of this checks out – points are not very important for wings or point guards either, and so few college big men take enough threes for the sample size to be impactful. Conversely, rebounding and rim protection usually translate well from college to the NBA, and turnovers are an incredibly important insight into decision-making and basketball instincts (sighs at Mfiondu Kabengele). With that said, let’s take a look at a few prospects of note.
Best Big Man Prospects in the Clippers’ Range
None: The top three big men listed won’t fall to the Clippers’ range (Mobley is almost certainly going top three for good reason), and the remaining six range from unimpressive to just bad. Of the collegiate big men in the 2021 NBA Draft who will probably be available, Bassey is the best due to his efficiency, block, and rebound numbers. However, even though Bassey wouldn’t be a horrible pick, there are almost certainly going to be much better point guard and wing prospects available at 25, and I’d not want Bassey over any of them. JT Thor is more of a forward than a true big man, and I’d be *ok* with him as well, but again, he’s not near the top of a Clippers’ centric big board.
Big Man Prospects to Trade Up For
None: Isaiah Jackson is a pretty solid prospect, but the same holds true for him as for Bassey. If the Clippers trade up, I’d hope it would be for a point guard like Jaden Springer, a wing such as Moses Moody, or a rangy forward like Franz Wagner. None of these big men (outside of Mobley, who’s a monster) is nearly good enough to
Big Man Prospects to Avoid in the Clippers’ Range
Greg Brown: The only number close to acceptable for Brown is rebounding. He wasn’t an impressive shot blocker, never got assists, turned the ball over at a high rate, and wasn’t an efficient scorer. It’s hard to get a sense of what he’s good at outside of just being young and athletic. And, to be sure, those traits aren’t bad. But there’s no indicator he’s actually great at basketball, and considering the other guys available at 25, a Brown pick would be egregiously bad. Sharpe, Garza, and Sims wouldn’t be much better (though I doubt Garza or Sims goes anywhere near that high), but at least they have some redeeming statistical features.
International Prospects of Note
Usman Garuba: Garuba is the only international player in the Clippers’ range that I’m interested in, and is by far the best big man prospect who might be available around 25 (though that’s at the very bottom of his range). Garuba is just 6’8, but he boasts an insane 7’3 wingspan, and is just 19 years old, so he could theoretically still grow a bit more. Most importantly, he’s already proven himself as a solid role player at the highest levels of international basketball in the Euroleague for Real Madrid and in the Liga ACB. His raw numbers aren’t that impressive (4.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.7 blocks in 16.5 minutes per game in Euroleague play), but Euroleague is also much, much better than college. And, to be clear, the strongest aspect of his game (defense) doesn’t translate in numbers that well. He’s a menace around the basket while possessing footspeed to guard on the perimeter, and is maybe the most likely player in this class to earn a Defensive Player of the Year Award (with Mobley). The floor is obvious as a defense-first backup center like Nerlens Noel, and the ceiling is a limited offensively but dominant defensive center who can start for a decade. I’d still take guards like Jared Butler and Springer over Usman, but he’s legit.
That about does it for this look at the big men prospects of the 2021 NBA Draft. Are there any guys you have your eyes on, or want the Clippers to avoid? Discuss in the comments below!