Will the C.J. Wilcox draft pick haunt the Clippers?


When 2014-15 Kobe Bryant effortlessly drives past you on multiple occasions there’s an issue. And when the players behind that player, Matt Barnes to be exact, can’t threaten his starting position, there’s another problem.

As I watch the Clippers struggle at the wings outside of Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick, I can’t help but think back to the draft where a solution, or at least one that’d benefit greatly in the future, existed.

I will say this: I like C.J. Wilcox as a player. Considering how pivotal J.J. Redick is to this Clippers offense and how important Ray Allen was to the Doc Rivers-led Boston Celtics, Wilcox makes sense when Crawford and Redick are gone (I documented that here). But with a team built to win this season and those immediately after, it can’t help but be thought that one of the small forwards passed up by the Clippers could’ve helped this team right now.

The players to be exact? Kyle Anderson of the San Antonio Spurs, K.J. McDaniels of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Cleanthony Early of the New York Knicks. Each forward mentioned was a highly-touted prospect coming out of college.

Kyle Anderson, or Slo-Mo as they called him, was praised as a point-forward at UCLA college, averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game while shooting 48 percent from three.

K.J. McDaniels out of Clemson, praised as a high-energy, defense-first wing, averaged 17.1 points on 45/30/82 shooting and 7.1 rebounds per game.

Cleanthony Early of Wichita State, praised as a scorer and shot-creator averaged 16.4 points while shooting 37 percent from three, and 5.9 rebounds per game.

All three praised as possible first-round selections (Early and McDaniels were selected in the second round), each could’ve been put in position to emerge as the starter at some point in the season, especially if Barnes keeps playing like a guy who’s a season away from retiring from the league.

Of the three, Anderson fit the least. While his playmaking abilities are a skill you’d want in every player, his inability to keep up with NBA wings would’ve been an issue. For Early, issues are similar, but his ability to create and grow to a league-average scorer at some point in his career would’ve complimented Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick well on offense. That leaves on guy, McDaniels, who, at the time and in hindsight, would’ve been perfect alongside this starter unit — or as a reserve.

At 6’6 (6’11 wingspan), 200 pounds, McDaniels was praised as a ‘freak athlete’ who graded well in transition, at the rim, and on defense. His shooting isn’t spectacular, but there are many who assume he could grow to be a league-average three-shooter one day, another plus for his stock at this point. Two games into the 76ers season, McDaniels is averaging 7.0 points per game on 50 percent shooting, is 2-of-4 from behind the arch, and has posted a PER of 12.1. For reference, albeit the sample size being small, he’s played much better than Chris Douglas-Roberts has this season.

And did I mention mention that McDaniels is VERY athletic and is the cutter/runner/defender/role player this team desperately needs.

To be clear, the non-selection of Anderson, McDaniels, or Early isn’t mutually exclusive to those three. They could’ve selected a power forward to help sure up the defense or a back-up point guard, allowing them to make better usage of the bi-annual exception used on Jordan Farmar (see: Davis, Ed), but either would’ve been a better short-term selection than Wilcox who barring catastrophic injury to the core, may not see the court this year.

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