Q&A with Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound on C.J. Wilcox


Editor’s Note: Following the drafting of University of Washington product C.J. Wilcox, we had a chance to speak with Ben Knibbe, writer for SB Nation’s Washington Huskies bog UW Dog Pound to get some insight on the 28th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft.

Q: Prior to the NBA Draft, did you ever feel the Clippers could’ve been a candidate for the Clippers?

A: I did think the Clippers were a candidate until I saw they had Bullock on the roster, who was drafted just last season and made minimal impact as a very similar player last season. Come draft day, I didn’t see him going to the Clippers.

Q: NBA player comparisons are moot, but they help fans figure out what to expect with a player. Is there anyone in the NBA Wilcox currently reminds you of?

A: Is Reggie Bullock an acceptable answer? He is a solid athlete with a lights out shot with the length to potentially be a good defender. That has been the general consensus since he was drafted, so I am going to throw someone else out there: Courtney Lee. There are differences between the two, obviously. One is that Lee has the ability to run the point guard spot in a pinch, and though Wilcox did that periodically in his junior season, it isn’t something he will be able to do at the NBA level. Wilcox may end up as the better shooter (though Lee is obviously one of the better shooters).

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Q: Draft Express stated Wilcox is one-dimensional. Do you agree with that sentiment?

A: In a way, yes he is one-dimensional. Though his jumper can be utilized in a wide variety of ways (off the dribble, off screens, standstill, transition) it is still just a jumper. When he is slashing through the lane he is able to finish at the rim using his left hand.

Interesting story that will probably be reported down the road during Wilcox’s tenure. He shoots with his right hand, but he is actually left-handed, which is why he typically finishes on his left. When he was in middle school or upper elementary, his dad decided to have C.J. shoot with each hand, left and right, until he was somewhat proficient with both. Then, his dad told him to pick one, and C.J. felt more comfortable with his non-dominant hand. It seems to have worked out for him.

Q: Several scouting reports point to defense as Wilcox’s biggest issue. From what you saw, is the issue on that end the lack of defensive intuition or a lack of athleticism?

A: Definitely defensive intuition, but combined with strength. He struggles to sort through the trash in the paint when following a guy through screens because he isn’t strong, but his length allows him to play passing lanes well along with getting out to jump shooters to close out. He is actually good shot blocker, particularly on his closeouts. His length and above-average lateral quickness means that, as long as he isn’t overpowered, it is difficult for a ball-handler to get past him. Off the ball is where he struggles, typically, and is why the question was “can he guard his position” was brought up, because a lot of the time a 2-guard is defending shooters off the ball.

Q: How big of an issue do you think Wilcox’s inability to separate himself from defenders in isolation will be in the NBA?

A: Depends on what team he is on. On the Clippers, none. Being alongside Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul means that he won’t be stuck with the ball in many late-shot clock situations. When combined with how little space he needs to get his jumper off, it won’t be that much of a problem in LA. If he went to another team that didn’t have players who were as proficient at taking defenders off the dribble, it would be much more of a factor.

Q: What’s your best case/worst case scenario for C.J. Wilcox?

A: Best case scenario is that Wilcox spends a year or two as a backup before he takes over as a starting shooting guard, whether that is in LA or somewhere else. Worst case scenario is that he is just a hired gunner, a guy who plays as the fifth wing as a guy who is relegated to sitting in the corner waiting for threes for his entire career.