The 2021 NBA Draft is over, and the Clippers somehow came away with three picks, all of whom look like they’ll be on the roster in some form or another next year. The Clippers traded some sort of future asset for all of their selections (giving away three total picks – though one is very heavily protected to the point of being virtually nothing – and cash), showing how much they liked all of their new rookies. But how much did outsiders like the picks? Here’s a quick roundup of grades from various writers on the Clippers’ picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, with snippets of commentary when given.
Sam Vecenie: Johnson is an unbelievable athlete, and his intersection of motor, competitiveness and athleticism will allow him to stick in the NBA for a while. But it might just be as a role player unless he tightens his handle and really works through improving the shot…The upside with Johnson is very high because he might be the best athlete in the class, but the floor is low.
John Hollinger: …Johnson is a pure upside play, with spectacular leaping ability offset by a more pedestrian skill level and an odd inability to impact games with is athleticism beyond pull-up jumpers. It was a bit surprising to see the Clippers take this leap… But the Clips thought the value proposition was worth moving up, and he’ll have a chance to quietly develop at the back end of their roster. (Hollinger would have picked Usman Garuba).
Vecenie: Preston is a phenomenal passer and has some of the best feel for the game… But there are some real questions about how he’s going to get anywhere on the court due to his athleticism and high handle, there are questions about his jumper, and whether or not he can defend..
Hollinger: …The Clippers need point guard help, and in particularly good passers, and Preston can do that… I wouldn’t be shocked if he can take some backup rotation minutes as a rookie. (Hollinger Would have picked Preston).
Vecenie: There are situational factors that could see Boston become the next Kentucky player to exceed his draft standing… But I’m also not sure that this is the traditional Kentucky player in terms of athleticism… And yet, if Boston can work, figure out the jumper and get stronger, there are some real potential upsides for him to become a valuable NBA player. I do think it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take a lot of development from the team that selects him.
Hollinger: He did fit for New Orleans, so I’ll leave that out.
Sports Illustrated (Keon Johnson only)
…Johnson was once projected as a potential late-lottery pick, but his stock fell a bit in the predraft process, due in part to concerns around his shooting, and also due to concerns over his medical, per sources… L.A. loves defensive-minded, tough, versatile players, and Johnson fits that bill… If his ballhandling and jump shot come around, he could be an extremely valuable, high-energy piece for them. Grade A-
Keon Johnson: Grade A-
Jason Preston: Grade B+
BJ Boston: Grade B+
CBS Sports Draft Night Grades (Gary Parrish and Kyle Boone)
Keon Johnson: … Johnson was the best player available, a terrific athlete who slots in nicely here. He’s a one-and-done guard who projects as a nice two-way player in the NBA for many years to come… Grade: A+
Jason Preston: Very interesting developmental pick for the Clippers.. Preston’s skinny and needs to pack on muscle and while he has some holes in his game to iron out, he is one of the most electric passers in the draft with a very good feel from the point guard position. Grade: B+
BJ Boston: This is the second prospect that the Clippers have taken who are developmental projects. Boston needs to add weight, and he really struggled to score it at Kentucky, which is problematic… Former five-star who was at one time viewed as a lottery talent? That’s someone you gamble on in the second round. Grade: A
CBS Sports Team Grades (Colin Ward-Henninger)
The Clippers are likely going to be without Kawhi Leonard… so they need as much help as possible on the wing. It’s unclear, though, if Johnson, Boston and Preston… will be able to significantly contribute next season. Johnson and Boston are major upside plays, however, so they could pay off down the road. Grade: B
The Clippers targeted Johnson… and moved up four spots to get him. They did the same with Preston and Boston in the second round… None of them may pan out, but you have to respect them for going after their guys, especially when all it cost them was a pair of future second-round picks and some cash. Grade: B+
I mostly agree with the consensus grade for the Clippers 2021 NBA Draft, which is around a B+. While none of the guys the Clippers selected would have been the specific players I chose, I love the gamble on Johnson particularly, and would give that pick a B+/A-. He’s not a guy who will probably contribute much next year, but the size, athleticism, motor, and defense are all promising, and he’s shown at least some touch on offense. Preston is a nice enough prospect, but I just think there were better guys on the board (Jared Butler and Deuce McBride in particular), so I’d probably give that pick a B-/C+. By pick 51 you’re really just throwing darts at the board, so while Boston had a horrific season at Kentucky, betting on high school tape and pedigree isn’t the worst thing in the world – I’d probably give that pick an A-.