The 2021 NBA Draft is tomorrow night, which means we are at the point when all prospects are fully scouted and we know roughly where most of them will land in the draft (there will always be a few big risers and fallers on draft night). That means it’s also time for a quick Clippers’ centric big board on who they should draft with the 25th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. This will start with some guys they won’t draft at all!
Out of Reach
Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Scottie Barnes, James Bouknight, Jonathan Kuminga, Franz Wagner, Josh Giddey, Moses Moody
There are 10 players here, and it’s likely at least 8 if not all 10 of them go in the top 10. The Clippers do not have assets to get into the top 10 barring a Paul George trade (which they won’t do), which means these guys are all pipe dreams.
Would Likely Require a Moderate Trade Up
Corey Kispert, Alperen Sengun, Davion Mitchell, Chris Duarte, Trey Murphy, Kai Jones
These players are mostly projected in the 10 to 18 range or so, which means it’s possible one of them falls into the 20s, but it’s highly unlikely any drop to 25. If the Clippers really like any of them and one falls to 21 or so, they could maybe package a few future 2nds plus 25 to move up. I’m not crazy about any of these guys though, at least not compared to who might fall to 25, so I’m fine with not trading up.
Top of the Board, But Unlikely to Fall to 25
Jared Butler – Butler is probably my top choice of anyone who has a decent chance of being available at 25. He can shoot, play on or off the ball, is a solid defender, and has tons of winning experience at the collegiate level. I don’t see any star upside, but his floor is probably a competent backup point guard, and his ceiling is a long-time starter. He’s also someone who could likely contribute soon, which is a boon for the championship-contending Clips.
Usman Garuba – Garuba is a monster defensive player who should not fall to 25, and probably won’t, but has been mocked as low as the late 20s. He’s the only big man I’d be excited about the Clippers’ drafting, and is another guy with a nice floor and fairly high ceiling.
Top of the Board, Very Possibly Available
Jaden Springer – I wrote at length about Springer, and every time I see a mock draft having him fall to the late 1st (and even early 2nd) round I question my own sanity. He’s young, was productive in a top college conference, is going to be a plus defender, is a plus athlete, has good measurables, and showcased plenty of scoring availability. He probably won’t be as quick a contributor as Butler, but the upside is extremely high, and the floor as a defense-first guard who can do some ball-handling is certainly not bad. If he’s available at 25 and the Clippers don’t take him, it had better be for Butler, Garuba, or maybe one of the next two guys on this list. Of any player who has seemingly at least a 50% chance of being available to the Clippers in the 2021 NBA Draft, he’s the top of the big board.
Bones Hyland – Bones is cool as hell, a lethal bucket-getter, an exceptional shooter, and can play both on and off the ball. He’s not as polished a playmaker or as good a defender as Butler (though he’s younger), but would be a fantastic pick at 25. More importantly, he’s the top guy who seems nearly sure to be available to the Clippers.
Sharife Cooper – Cooper was awfully inefficient in his lone season in college, but he was playing on a not very talented team and was on a limited sample size. He’s probably the best ball-handler and passer in the draft, and while his size does limit some of the scoring and defensive potential, and can really run the pick and roll. The fit is a little less clean, but the talent is undeniable.
Deuce McBride – Who better to learn from Pat Beverley than Pat 2.0? Deuce is a ferocious defender who can blow up the point of attack like nobody else in this draft, and is a fully capable off-ball defender as well. There are some concerns on the shot creation and shooting, but he can handle the ball well enough and is still young.
Joel Ayayi – I’m much higher on Ayayi than consensus. While he’d probably be a reach at 25, he’s simply a guy who knows how to play basketball at a high level, and is the type of connecting player that is so useful to winning teams. He can shoot, play defense, make reads in a fast-paced offense, and rebound. The upside isn’t crazy, but he’ll be a day-one contributor and could be a fifth starter on a good team. Sign me up.
Tre Mann – Mann is the last guy who I think would make me a happy camper on draft night due to his great shooting ability combined with ball-handling. The passing and defense are not there, but if he can continue to develop his off-the-dribble shooting in conjunction with some improved playmaking, he could be a pretty devastating force on offense.
Other Solid Picks
Ayo Dosunmu – Dosunmu is a big guard who should offer some defensive versatility and scoring potential. I do worry about the outside shot, but he’s probably a safe enough bet as a bench scorer at the least.
Isaiah Jackson – I doubt Jackson falls this far, but he’s a fairly solid prototypical rim-running center who’s young and could be a starting-level guy going forward. He’s not all that exciting, but he’s the only other big man outside of Garuba who would get a nod of the head from me.
Kessler Edwards – Edwards is a big wing with lethal shooting ability and is a solid rebounder. There’s not necessarily a ton else, but a 6’8 shooter who can play defense and contribute a bit in other ways would not be a bad pick by any means. Still, the Clippers could almost certainly get him later in the draft.
Josh Cristopher – JayGup was a top-ranked recruit who had a disappointing season at Arizona State, especially as a shooter. However, he’s an explosive athlete with good size who has upside on both ends. He’s not a guy who I think will contribute soon, but as a long-term play I’d be ok with selecting him.
I don’t want to go too in-depth on these guys. Grimes is a decent enough guard prospect who I’m worried has shooting that won’t hold up. Thomas is a fantastic scorer but he’s a gunner of the highest order who doesn’t do a ton else on the court. Thor is a big man/forward tweener with talent but I don’t know about his fit on the Clippers or what position he’ll fill in the NBA.
Anyone not mentioned are probably guys who I don’t want on the Clippers. These range from potential fallers like Jalen Johnson, Ziaire Williams, Josh Primo, and Keon Johnson who I just don’t think will be there but would not want the Clippers to trade up for, to guys who I’d be apoplectic if the Clippers select such as Day’Ron Sharpe and Greg Brown.
Let me know where you might differ from me on a Clippers’ big board for the 2021 NBA Draft, and who you’d most like (or most hate) to see the Clippers take on Thursday night.