It’s official: Clippers have signed rookie Branden Dawson


Mar 29, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson cuts a piece of the net after winning a game against the Louisville Cardinals in the finals of the east regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

We reported yesterday that the Los Angeles Clippers were expected to sign rookie power forward Branden Dawson, but now it’s official. In an offseason that’s been full of drama with DeAndre Jordan’s free agency saga, and a host of new signings in Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson and Cole Aldrich, the Clippers are nearing the end of their busy summer. Now, with the official addition of Branden Dawson, they’re approaching the 2015-16 season in excellent shape.

After buying the rights to the 56th pick in the 2015 NBA draft for $600,000 from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Clippers have added the kind of athletic and aggressive defensive specialist that could really thrive in their second unit. Dawson will need to grow accustomed to the league of course, and after shooting only 29 percent from over 10 feet out this year he’ll need to expand his range, but he has the strengths that the Clippers have been lacking.

Specifically, he can help improve their defensive efficiency (ranked 15th) and rebounding rate (ranked 16th).

His signing has now been officially announced, and he’s subjected to make $523,093 this season (per

The Clippers are still in the process of adding a new backup power forward to support Blake Griffin, as their center rotation is already in place since the signing of Cole Aldrich. However, with Glen Davis as their primary backup power forward right now, who did little more than help diminish leads in a matter of seconds this year, they need someone else.

Dawson won’t take on that role (certainly not for a long time at least), yet his defensive impact has been prominent for years. During 2011, while he was at Lew Wallace High School in Gary, Indiana, he became a McDonald’s All-American after averaging a ridiculous 28.7 points, 18.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game.

During his time in college with Michigan State, he continued what he had started.

This season, the somewhat undersized 6’7″ Dawson used his aggression and constant hustle to dominate the Big Ten Conference (this is a brief extract from one of my recent columns):

"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)."

However, whilst Branden Dawson may serve as the Clippers’ second option at backup power forward, they need to address the matter of who directly supports Griffin.

Judging by the recent reports that have been flying round the internet over the last week or so, Josh Smith of the Houston Rockets and Darrell Arthur of the Denver Nuggets are their two top targets. Both offer floor spacing and more ability to play in transition than Glen Davis, yet Smith is definitely the better option (if they’re able to sign him with their limited amount of cap space).

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His shooting efficiency increased dramatically with the Rockets in comparison to his time with the Detroit Pistons (his field goal percentage increased by 4 and his three point percentage increased by 9), he’s a superior defender to Arthur, he can do more damage in transition with Chris Paul, and he has enough athleticism and versatility to play at both small and power forward.

With Dawson, the Clippers have added some much needed toughness to their rather generous defense. Now, they just need to try and sign Smith to serve as the ideal two-way player to back-up Griffin.

If they can make that happen, they will leave this offseason with the depth to contend at an even higher level.

Next: Can Wesley Johnson fill Matt Barnes' role?