Clippers “expected to sign” rookie PF Branden Dawson


Mar 14, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) reacts after making a basket against the Maryland Terrapins during the second half in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Clippers’ rookie power forward Branden Dawson emerged as a defensive specialist in college with Michigan State. And after continuing to display his talents in the Orlando Pro Summer League, the Clippers are now expected to sign him. Which, considering Glen Davis’ +/- of -14.8 this year and the general negative impact he has in L.A., a new backup to help support Blake Griffin is needed.

That being said, he will need to prove himself in the NBA. Summer League isn’t exactly a hotbed for elite talent and his range on offense is very limited. However, his exceptional athleticism, defense, rebounding, hustle and endless aggression make him a perfect player to add some toughness to the Clippers’ bench.

Now, according to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, it’s expected that the Clippers will sign him.

Seeing as they were able to enter the draft to land Dawson for only $600,000 when they acquired the 56th pick from the New Orleans Pelicans, it can’t be denied that he was a steal for such a small price.

To illustrate what he can bring to the Clippers, here is an extract from one of my columns discussing Dawson’s defensive abilities (which you can read in full here):

"This season, Dawson put his aggressive mindset to full effect and continue to terrorize opponents through his rebounding and smothering defense. He ranked 1st in the Big Ten Conference in rebounds per game (9.1), total offensive rebounds (102) and defensive rating (91.1). In addition to his dominance as a rebounder, Dawson averaged 1.2 steals per game, and even ranked 4th in blocks per game (1.7), 6th in block percentage (6.3) and 2nd in defensive win shares (2.5).His reaction time is near instantaneous when it comes to hauling in offensive rebounds or elevating for a block, and his 6’11” wingspan and 34.5 inch vertical give him the physical intangibles to continue to succeed. Of course, the opponents he’ll face in the NBA are going to be a bit taller and stronger than those he faced in college, but Dawson still has the speed to cover guards and has proven on countless occasions that he can use his strength and instant explosion under the rim to cover power forwards in the post.As much as any of his physical attributes, though, it’s his relentlessness and tenacity that can make him an elite and versatile defender for years to come.Remember, he’s only 6’7″. So the way he dominated the Big Ten Conference in so many areas speaks volumes of his elite athleticism and drive to defend. And as the Clippers ranked just 15th in defensive efficiency and only 16th in rebounding rate, Branden Dawson is exactly what they need (especially for when DeAndre Jordan is off the floor)."

In the Orlando Pro Summer League, Dawson made sure to let everyone know that he’s ready to make his mark in the NBA. And in order for him to do that, he’ll need to contribute in this fashion:

If the Clippers decide to re-sign Glen Davis, along with their new acquisitions of center Cole Aldrich and, by the looks of it, Branden Dawson, their frontcourt has more of the depth it’s been lacking to begin the 2015-16 season.

After ranking 15th in defensive efficiency and 16th in rebounding rate this year, the Clippers need help in both those areas. Yet, with Aldrich (who averaged 12.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per 36 minutes this season) and the versatility of Dawson to guard multiple positions, they have two new role players who can make a difference. And at the very least if Dawson’s minutes are limited, they have a notable defensive upgrade at center over Spencer Hawes in the form of Aldrich.

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Now, the next focus for Doc Rivers is to add a new backup power forward to support Griffin.

The Clippers’ two top targets right now seem to be Josh Smith and Darrell Arthur, who both offer the versatility to play at small forward and power forward while spacing the floor. Ideally, Smith is the best option, due to his superior speed, athleticism, play in transition and ability to defend multiple positions at an effective level.

For more analysis of why the Clippers should try and sign Smith, read here. He’d be the final piece to complete their rotation and is a bargain if they’re lucky enough to pick him up on a minimum contract. However, even if the worst case scenario of Doc Rivers failing to add another backup big occurs, they’re still in far better shape than they were just a few weeks ago.

Next: Who should the Clippers sign? Josh Smith vs. Darrell Arthur