Clippers’ showtime rookie: Branden Dawson’s college highlights


Feb 1, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) reacts to a play during the second half at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. The Spartans won 76-66. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers are a great deal stronger after all their offseason acquisitions, with Branden Dawson being a key piece to improve their average defense. Although, as a rookie who only got selected just before the night’s end with the 56th pick, you may not be too familiar with what he can do. Or, now that it’s summer and we’re in the long wait till the 2015-16 season starts, you may want to improve your knowledge of the Clippers’ young defensive specialist.

If you saw Branden Dawson play at all in the Orlando Pro Summer League, you’ll have realized he’s the definition of a ball hawk. At 6’7″, he’s somewhat undersized as a power forward. But with his 34.5 inch vertical and constant drive to go after rebounds and lose balls, Dawson makes his height redundant and constantly enforces his presence all over the court.

His lack of shooting range may have been noticeable at times in Summer League, yet with a host of offensive putbacks, dunks in transition and short turnaround jumpers, Dawson still showed that he can be factor at that end of the floor. Even if it’s through sheer effort alone, he can get the job done.

Before beginning a look through some of his college highlights from the four years he spent at Michigan State, though, here’s a brief extra from one of my columns, to illustrate just how his defense dominated the Big Ten Conference this season:

"Dawson put his aggressive mindset to full effect and continued 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)."

Now, with those extremely impressive numbers in mind, enjoy some highlights of his athleticism, defense and ferocious finishes.

It’s clear Dawson can dunk and run the floor, that goes without saying. If you search the internet, you can find plenty more film to prove it. He’ll need time to adjust to playing in the NBA, and now that the Clippers have added Josh Smith to serve as the primary backup power forward to Blake Griffin, Dawson will only have a minor role for now.

However, Dawson’s playmaking ability at both ends of the floor and relentless defense should earn him some minutes. Especially on a Clippers’ roster that only ranked 15th in defensive efficiency and 16th in rebounding rate this year.

And in case you haven’t seen what he’s capable of yet, here are a few examples.

When you see what Branden Dawson can do, it’s hard to not be a fan. He disregards the fact he’s called “undersized” by some with his athleticism and constant drive to be everywhere on the court.

He can rebound well, play both small forward and power forward, cover guards on the perimeter or take smaller big men in the post, fly around as a help defender to protect the rim and cause havoc in transition.

If Dawson gets a chance to fit into the rotation, he’ll be a key defensive energizer off the bench when the Clippers look to rest the likes of Griffin and Smith. And when he gets that chance, Branden Dawson has a lot to offer Lob City — at both ends of the floor.

Next: The Clippers have added a vital new weapon: Versatility

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