The Clippers have been bad at drafting in recent years, and have particularly whiffed on big men. Mfiondu Kabengele at 27 in the 2019 Draft and Daniel Oturu at 33 in 2020 were both immense misses even at their range in the draft, and Moussa Diabate hasn’t provided anything as the 43rd pick in the 2022 Draft either.

That said, the Clippers could take another big man with the 46th pick in this draft. After all, their two backup centers last season, Mason Plumlee and Daniel Theis, are both free agents and don’t seem super likely to return. Kai Jones, who they signed at the tail end of 2024, has a team option for 2024-2025 that is non-guaranteed. Diabate, who has been on a two-way the past two seasons, is a restricted free agent. Thus, the only big man truly “on the roster” right now is starter Ivica Zubac.

However, I would be mildly surprised if the Clippers took a big at 46. Jones and Diabate seem fairly likely to be in the Clippers’ Summer League/Training Camp plans at the very least, and adding another young guy to the mix seems odd unless the Clippers are out on Jones and Diabate. Additionally, the Clippers have learned how important it is to have competent veteran backup center play, so even if one of Jones or Diabate pops in Summer League I’d guess the Clippers bring in another more experienced center as a deep reserve. All in all, the room is just probably going to be too crowded to warrant another big man pick. Let’s move into some stats!

The following explanation is a copy paste explanation of the stats and methodology from previous years. The numbers I compile for this are for college players only (no international, OTE, or G-League players included), and are per game, not per possession. In the NBA, per possession is a more useful stat, but when looking at college players, I feel like playing time is a bigger component – if you can’t play in college, you probably won’t play in the NBA. I also stopped at around number 60 on ESPN’s prospect list, as guys below that are unlikely to get picked even at 46. Finally, the numbers are averaged between the last two college seasons the players played, which can hurt some guys but can balance out outlier seasons.

Donovan Clingan20.4106.510.
Zach Edey22.123.812.
Kyle Filipowski20.615.
Kel’el Ware20.211.3710.
Yvis Missi20.
DaRon Holmes21.919.
Adem Bona21.310.15.610.
Jonathan Mogbo22.611.
Oso Ighodaro21.912.46.42.911.41.71.7058821.800.62
Isaac Jones23.917.

I have updated my database and models, and things have changed somewhat. The most important stats for big men prospects (in comparing college stats to advanced all-in-one numbers at the NBA level including WS/48, VORP, and BPM to determine correlation) are age, assists, rebounds, blocks, and true shooting, with turnovers also being somewhat relevant. It’s better for prospects to be younger (makes sense) and have fewer turnovers (ditto) and for all their counting stats to be higher (also checks out). Points, steals (this is a big change, as years ago steals rated as the most important stat for bigs), and three-point shooting don’t have a strong correlation to NBA success for big men prospects in my models, but obviously matter when judging players. Here’s a look at some prospects!

Best Prospects in Clippers’ Range

Oso Ighodaro – Ighodaro is a four-year senior from Marquette who made All Big East Second Team his last two seasons there. At 6’10, 235 pounds, he’s a solid size for an NBA big, though his 6’11 wingspan does harm him on defense and the glass. However, he’s an exceptional athlete with above-the-rim leaping ability and a quick first and second jump. On offense, he pairs that rim-running with very good passing out of the short roll and in dribble hand-off situations, and was a hub for Marquette’s offense. Defense is more of a mixed bag, as Ighodaro was frequently overpowered on that end, but moves well on the perimeter and in recover situations. His offensive game being tailor-made for the modern NBA and his plus athleticism make him a very worthy selection at 46.

Jonathan Mogbo – Mogbo played junior college for two years before transferring to Missouri and then San Francisco, for whom he had a breakout senior season. At 6’6, 216 pounds, Mogbo is incredibly undersized for a big man, but makes up for that with a large wingspan and standing reach. He’s also a solid offensive player who can finish strong at the rim, make plays in space (3.6 assists to 1.8 turnovers his senior season), and handle a bit. The question with Mogbo is whether he can protect the rim and guard bigger centers well enough, but his defense in switches and the open court is good. There are some real flaws but he’s an interesting prospect and I’d like a swing on him.

Prospects to Trade Up For

Adem Bona – Bona might be the draft prospect who Clippers fans are most familiar with, as he has been the starting center the past two years on UCLA. While Bona is “only” 6’10, he’s a hefty 235 pounds and covers a lot of ground on defense. His motor and intensity are fantastic, helping him win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year last season. He projects as an energy big man who should be relatively helpful on defense early on in his career but probably won’t contribute a ton on offense outside of rim-running. Still, I think he’s a fairly safe bet to be a solid backup center, albeit one with limited upside.

Prospects to Avoid

Isaac Jones – Jones is a big man from Washington State who is a fifth-year senior. He played at the junior college level before transferring to Idaho as a junior and then Washington State for his final season. Jones is another undersized big man with fairly impressive scoring numbers, but whose statistical outlook is really harmed by his age (he’s almost 24) and just-ok rebounding and block stats. I don’t think he’d be an awful pick, but there should be better guys on the board.

International Prospects of Note

Ariel Hukporti – Hukporti has been a name on the fringes of the NBA Draft radar for years. A 22 year old from Germany, Hukporti has been playing professionally since he was just 16 years old back in 2018, albeit at very low minutes early on. Hukporti has played in the German Bundesliga, Australian NBL, and Lithuanian LKL leagues, which are all fairly strong professional leagues, though he has never played for a top-tier EuroLeague or EuroCup team. Hukporti’s numbers are not particularly impressive, but he is a full 7’0, 250 big who does traditional big man things like rebound and block shots and does have a lot of professional experience against solid competition.

There are some pretty strong big man prospects in the Clippers’ range in this draft. Are there any that you have your eye on more than others?

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