A Brief Look at the Clips’ Recent Draft History


Not only does the Short White Boy spend a lot of time thinking about bball, but he also spends a bunch of time emailing & talking with friends about it.  One of my friends, Rich, who also has no life, wrote me this email recently where he analyzed the Clippers recent draft picks.  I figured since it looked like he actually did a bit of research I’d post it.  My analysis of his analysis follows (ain’t that also what happens when 2 therapist marry?).

"You are actually going to write a blog piece now that the Clips have the #1 pick and they’ve already decided on Griffen[sic], right?  Or, are you going to be lazy and not write one at this key moment in Clip history.  So easy to review all the other Clipper draft mistakes.  The Candiman being the #1 worst moment (I think).Let’s see:2008 Eric Gordon (#7 overall) – seems pretty solid overall.  There may be other players that turn out better, but doesn’t seem unreasonable.2007 Al Thornton (#14 overall) – seems pretty solid overall.  Again, could end up being better players, but it’s a solid pick.2006 No first round draft pick2005 Yaroslav Korolev (#12 overall).  Who?  Too bad the Clips didn’t pick in the top 4 this year, they could have had Chris Paul or Deron Wiliams.  Or, perhaps they would have skipped over those two.  Anyway, could have had Danny Granger and there are other strong contributors (Nate Robinson, David Lee, Linas Kleiza, Jarret Jack).2004 Shaun Livingston (#4 overall).  This was a big miss. I pick later was Devin Harris, a much better choice.  Other players in round 1:  Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, Josh Childress, Andres Beidrins,  Jameer Nelson,Kevin Martin, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, JR Smith.  Lots of choices.  Livingston was a big mistake.  A 6’7″ high school kid built out of small twigs.2003 Chris Kaman (#6 overall).  1 pick earlier and they could have had Dwayne Wade.  Too bad.  They missed out on David West or Josh Howard, but it’s a decent pick.2002 Chris Wilcox (#8 overall) and Melvin Ely (#12 overall).  They missed Amare Stoudemire at #9 which is a big fuck up.  Later in the round there was Tayshaun Prince and John Salmons.  But, missing Amare is the big screw up.2001 Tyson Chandler (#2 overall).  Ouch, what a screw up.  Misses:  Pau Gasol (#3 overall).  How do you get that wrong?  Jason Richardson (#5 overall).  Shane Battier (#6 overall). Joe Johnson (#10).  Richard Jefferson (#13).  Troy Murphy (#14).  Gerald Wallace (#25).  Tony Parker (#28).2000 Darius Miles (#3 overall).  Quentin Richardson1999 Lamar Odom1998 The Candyman (ouch).  Jamison, Vince Carter, Nowitzki, Pierce.  They are still paying for this horrible choice"

The only big factual mistake he had was his evaluation of 2001 because the Clippers didn’t really pick Tyson Chandler, they picked him for the Bulls in a trade for Elton Brand.  And Brand was definitely a better choice than pretty much everyone else in that draft except Pau (& before Brand was injured the last 2 years, probably most people would’ve said he was better than Pau).  If Rich had remembered that, I’m sure he would’ve put this as a positive draft.  By my summary that means he gave them 5 goods (Gordon, Thornton, Kaman, Brand, & Odom), 4 bads (Korolev, Livingston, Wilcox/Ely & Candyman) and 1 where he doesn’t state his thoughts (Darius/Q).  Well, batting .500 (or better) ain’t so bad, now is it?

Before moving on, a couple of clarifications as to how I personally analyze draft picks.  First, I think there’s a big difference between a team making a mistake and another team just making a darn good choice.  Like Tony Parker was taken 28th in the 2001 draft, and the year before that Ginobili was taken with I believe the 537th pick.  Meaning pretty much every team had a shot at these guys.  So it feels more appropriate to label these as great picks by San Antonio rather than saying everyone else messed up.

Second, when talking about a franchise like the Clippers that everyone claims always makes dumb or just wrong decisions, I believe there’s a different measuring stick to say they made bad choices.  Reason being, when people say the Clips chose poorly, they’re trying to imply (if not outright say) that the Clips are incompetent.  Versus say Joe Dumars who picked Darko over sure-thing Carmelo Anthony (to say nothing of Wade & Bosh), people always treat that as a bad decision rather than using it to indict the Pistons or Dumars (who personally I think has had a free pass for far too long and should be indicted for yuckosity).

Thus, I don’t think Shaun Livingston should be under the “crappy draft” label.  The boy had crazy skills and until he got injured, everyone in the league would’ve traded for him.  Sure, you can say, “But Short White Boy, he was like a foot taller than you and ten pounds thinner, and it’s not like you’re Mr. Fatty-Fat-Fat.”  To which I’d say, “Well truth is I do have a little bit of a ring around the stomach, but thank you for the complement.”  And then I’d remember that my body weight wasn’t the point of your comment, so I’d go, “KG and Darius were stick figures too and their bodies never disinitigrated on a lay up.”   Anyway, I’m basically saying it was a solid pick gone bad (much like when the Bulls drafted Jay Williams who then had a motorcycle accident), rather than a bad/incompetent pick.

That then brings our total up to 6-3-1.

And I hate that 1 there, so let’s check out that 2000 draft.  The picks before and after Darius?  Stromile Swift and Marcus Fizer.  This was one of the weaker draft classes ever, with the rookie of the year being Mike Miller by default ‘cuz they hadda pick someone.  Sure, a few semi-decent players were in the draft like Jamal Crawford and the clear top choice: Hedo Turkoglu.  But mostly we’ve got bench warmers and wannabe bench warmers like Joel Pryzbilla, Speedy Claxton, Jamal Magliore, Desmond Mason, poetry-spoutin’ Etan Thomas, Mo Pete, Chris Mihm, Keyon Dooling, DeMarr Johnson, Courtney Alexander, and the inimitable Mark Madsen.  Out of this lackluster bunch, Darius & Q are fairly solid picks.  Plus when you add in the endless hours of enjoyment I got from their fist-head-pounding thing, they were practically a steal.  So now we’re up to 7-3.

Okay, one last re-examination: 2002.  Yes, Amare is at least three worlds better than Wilcox, but he was taken 9th, meaning nearly a third of the teams passed on him.  At the time there was a big question about Amare’s attitude because he’d been kicked out of like 12 schools.  Likewise the other good pick that the Clips passed on was Caron Butler, about whom many teams had similar concerns about his behavior and maturity.  They were both considered a bit of a gamble, much like Eddie Griffin, who never got his act together and eventually died while drinking & driving.  The previous year the Clippers had traded for EB, a solid character guy (or so I used to think), and they didn’t want to risk bringing in players with questionable attitudes.  I respect that.  So who else was there?  Out of the 17 other first-round picks, 9 of them were no longer in the NBA this past season.  A few more barely played & might not last much longer: Fred Jones, Juan Dixon, Kareem Rush, & Dan Dickau.  A couple are weak bench players who are about on the same level as Wilcox: Jared Jeffries & Nenad Krstic.  The only 2 players who are clearly better and had no “character” issues are more nice finds by the Pistons and the Sixers with the 23rd and 26th picks: Tayshaun Prince & John Salmons.  And truth be told, up until 2 years ago most teams would’ve still preferred to have Wilcox over Salmons.  So based on the lame players who were left, Wilcox was actually a solid choice.

By my count, that leaves us with the final total of 8-2.  Yes, there were usually players who emerged who were better, but for the most part the Clippers have done a solid job drafting.  So maybe there is hope that we’ll take Griffin & won’t screw this up.