The 2023 NBA Draft lottery was yesterday, so it’s time to do a Mock Draft roundup and see who the Clippers are projected to take with the 30th and 48th picks. The mocks are from Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo at ESPN, Sam Vecenie at the Athletic, Jonathan Wasserman at Bleacher Report, and Ricky O’Donnell at SB Nation, the most respected bigger media names on the draft.
30th: Jaime Jaquez Jr, SF – UCLA
Explanation: “With one of the league’s highest payrolls and entering a highly restrictive environment for adding talent dictated by the new CBA, the Clippers will need to find contributors in the draft to bolster their depth. Jaquez was one of the best players in college basketball and looks like a plug-and-play option who can contribute to winning immediately with his feel for the game, defensive acumen and ability to play a variety of roles. The Clippers will be well-acquainted with Jaquez after getting a front-seat view of the stellar career he had down the street in Westwood.”
48th: Zach Edey, C – Purdue
30th: Jaime Jaquez Jr, SF – UCLA
Explanation: “I’m betting Jaquez has a strong pre-draft workout circuit. He’ll impress in team meetings and will likely perform well when he goes into competitive settings due to his experience and skill level as well as his two-way prowess. Jaquez can create his own shot, defends well within a team construct and is the kind of player who will lift the energy and intensity of those around him. He’s a four-year player at UCLA who was an All-American this past season on the wing, helping to turn around a UCLA program under new coach Mick Cronin when he took over back in 2019 with his talent and leadership.
The Clippers tend to love guys with what they define as “Clipper DNA.” These guys, by and large, tend to be extremely competitive, tough and willing to put in effort on both ends. Jaquez needs to clean up his jumper off the catch, but as long as that happens, it’s easy to imagine him having a 10-year NBA career.”
48th: Jordan Walsh, SF – Arkansas
30th: Bilal Coulibaly, SF – Metropolitans 92
Explanation: “Coulibaly wasn’t productive enough for teams to reach in the top 20, but athleticism, shot-making flashes, defensive playmaking and age (19) create enough upside to entice a team in the late first round.”
48th: Tosan Evbuomwan, PF – Princeton
Explanation: “Overlooked this season from the Ivy League, Evbuomwan earned himself NBA workouts during the NCAA tournament with his scoring craft and signature passing. He’s become an out-of-the-box facilitating big worth thinking about in the second round.”
30th: Jordan Walsh, SF – Arkansas
Explanation: “Walsh is a defensive stopper on the wing who will need to improve his jump shot to stay in the league. At 6’7 with a 7’2 wingspan, the Arkansas forward is a determined defender who can switch ball screens and guard a variety of assignments. He can handle and pass the ball in transition a bit, but needs to figure out ways to score in the halfcourt. Still, there aren’t many wings this big and this skilled defensively if a team thinks it can improve his scoring against a set defense.
There are some interesting trends here. First, Givony and Vecenie, the two most plugged-in draft guys, have the Clippers taking Jaime Jaquez Jr. Now, that might not be sourced reporting and more just on the fit at its face – ready-now, local kid, gritty mentality. However, it is notable, and if Jaquez continues to stick around as the Clippers’ choice here, it might start to mean something. Jordan Walsh was also mocked twice, though one was at 30 and the other was at 48th.
Second, all of the mock drafts have the Clippers taking a wing at 30, and only one pick across both 30 and 48 across all drafts goes to a non-forward (Edey by ESPN). That would suggest that early intel on the Clippers is wing-centric, which makes sense considering how few true wings they ended up having on a roster that was supposed to be about “wingstop”.
Third, I was very curious to see if any potential “draft and stash” guys were mocked to the Clippers – and I’m pretty sure Coulibaly would not be brought over right away. While guys are rarely stashed in the first round any more, the Clippers’ immense payroll (which they probably want to cut), crowded, veteran-heavy roster, and win-now mentality means stacking a full salaried rookie contract might be a tough sell. Of course, the Clippers are very likely to make roster changes this summer, which might hopefully free up some minutes for younger players, but right now there’s no path to minutes for any rookie.
As for the choices themselves, I wouldn’t hate any of them, though none are super exciting to me either. I know lots of Clippers fans would be hyped to get Jaquez, a UCLA legend, but his combination of age and lack of upside is a bit of a bummer. Still, he’s very tough and could be useful fairly quickly. Walsh is the opposite, a young freshman whose numbers at Arkansas were not hugely impressive, but has a 5-star HS recruit pedigree and has performed well at the NBA Draft Combine. It’s hard to see Walsh contributing in the short-term, but he’s someone with real long-term upside, particularly on defense.
Coulibaly is someone I’m not as familiar with, though I have seen him in a couple games for Metropolitans 92, as he’s a teammate of Victor Wembanyama. Coulibaly’s stats are pedestrian, but he’s 18 years old playing for the second-best team in the top league in France, which is extremely impressive. I’d need to watch more, but that experience already is intriguing.
Update: New Clippers selections were included for a revised Bleacher Report 2023 Mock Draft, with them now taking SF Andre Jackson Jr (UConn) at 30 and PF Coleman Hawkins (Illinois) at 48.