Our 2022 Clippers’ player season preview series continues with second-round rookie Brandon Boston Jr, who was selected with the 51st pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Weight: 188 pounds
Position: Shooting guard/Small forward
Years in NBA: Rookie
Key College Stats: 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.3 steals in 30.4 minutes per game across 25 games played (24 started) on 35.5/30/78.5 shooting splits.
Contract Status: The first year of a 3 year, $4.3M deal with the third season non-guaranteed, making $925K this season.
As a rookie 51st pick in the draft on a team with playoff (though seemingly not championship) aspirations this season on a roster with a ton of depth, Boston’s expectations this year are nearly non-existent. The weakest area on the roster is at small forward, where after Paul George (and maybe Terance Mann), the depth chart quickly drops off to Justise Winslow and Amir Coffey. If one of those guys gets injured, Boston could be in line for an increased role – but even then, he will have to compete with fellow rookie Keon Johnson and small-ball lineup for rotation minutes. All in all, it’s most likely that Boston plays in garbage time only this year, at least in LA, and maybe spends some time in Agua Caliente. Anything more than that is gravy.
Boston has an advanced offensive repertoire considering his age. His handles, in particular, are quite strong for a player with his size, and he can leverage those ball-handling abilities to create open looks for himself off the dribble, especially in the midrange. He also has the footwork and fluidity to perform a variety of moves (stepbacks, hesitations, turnarounds, etc.) in relatively smooth fashion.
Boston also just has excellent size and length for a modern NBA perimeter player. He has the height to get his shot off against nearly all defenders, and is long enough to theoretically guard multiple positions at the NBA level. As he fills out and gets stronger, he might be a true 1-4 type defensive player, though right now he’s probably not quick enough or strong enough to guard all but guards at the NBA level. Big, long wings that can create their own offense are one of the most valuable archetypes there are in the NBA (one can argue the most valuable), and Boston’s upside could see him becoming one of those players.
Boston was awful in his lone season at Kentucky, especially offensively. He shot under 40% from the field (just 38.4% on two pointers) and 30% from three, which renders much of his offensive skillset moot. All the flashy moves and dribbles don’t matter if the shots don’t go in. Boston was inefficient from everywhere on the court – at the rim, short range, midrange, threes – and the NBA is obviously much, much more challenging defensively than the NCAA. Boston seems to have some touch, and there’s nothing obviously wrong with his shot, so it’s possible his off year was due to a difficult season marred with COVID-19 related-issues as well as personal trauma.
In terms of other weaknesses, as mentioned above, Boston has strength issues, which hamper him on both ends of the court. On offense, it prevents him from getting all the way to the rim, as well as finishing when he does get there. On defense, it means he gets pushed around by bigger and stronger players, offering little resistance on the perimeter or around the basket. Most players get stronger in the NBA due to improved dieting, strength and conditioning, and simple aging, but Boston will really need to take a massive step forward in that realm to reach his full potential, and that might take multiple years.
In Summer League, Boston also showcased a tendency to chuck, frequently taking high-difficulty shots rather than moving the ball. It was so bad, at times, that it seemed like he almost had a mandate to not pass the ball once he received it inside the three-point line. Summer League (especially on a summer Clippers roster devoid of shot creation) is a loose, pick-up style format, but Boston is certainly got a great passer or playmaker, and his lack of vision could be another factor keeping him on the bench early in his career.
Brandon Boston is a promising rookie (especially considering his selection so late in the 2nd round), but he’s young, fairly deep on the Clippers’ depth chart, and seemingly has much work to do on his game to be ready for high-level NBA action. He’ll probably appear mostly in garbage time and the G-League this year, but hopefully shows some flashes relating to his offensive creation and works on his body, especially his strength.