The Clippers have sent CJ Wilcox & Branden Dawson to the D-League


Here’s a somewhat unexpected transaction: the Clippers, announced via press release, have assigned players C.J. Wilcox, second year shooting guard, and Branden Dawson, rookie power forward, to the NBA Developmental League; the two will join the Bakersfield Jam.

Given Doc Rivers‘ comments on sending his players to D-League teams the Clippers don’t own, this move comes as a surprise. “If you just want me to be straightforward it’s just too hard the way it’s set up. I think we all eventually are going to have to get a team. It’s just very hard,” said Rivers, prior to the Clippers’ 2015 preseason opener. “I don’t like a team where I’m sending one of my players and they’re running something else, doing something completely different. You can make a case it’s still nice to play basketball but right now, while we don’t have one and where you look at San Antonio, the Lakers, and all these other teams that do, they get to do things we can’t that I wish we could.”

Combine the complaints with the Clippers losing their D-League hub following the Indiana Pacers’ offseason purchase of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the D-League franchise that stood as the sole hub for teams who lacked one-to-one affiliates in the NBA’s minor league, and this season had all the makings of the Clippers’ youngest guys making it through the regular season without ever joining the league.

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  • Last season, C.J. Wilcox became the first Clippers player to be sent down to the D-League since Travis Leslie in 2012, and in five games, averaged 13.2 points on 53% shooting (45% from three). This past summer during the Orlando Pro Summer League, Wilcox saw an uptick in scoring due to an increased role but saw his percentages dip, averaging 14 points on 34% shooting.

    For the rookie Branden Dawson, whom the Clippers traded for on draft night after being selected by the New Orleans Pelicans, while his Summer League experience wasn’t as impressive as Wilcox’s it surely trumped the second-year guard in the entertainment column. Using dunks and blocks to make himself stick out, the Michigan State product stuffed the stat sheet with averages of 12.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.7 steals, and 1.2 blocks in four games — two games into the Summer League, Dawson would eclipse former collegiate standout Royce White as the team’s starting power forward.

    While the development of the two players won’t make or break the Clippers’ chances of competiting for a championship in the future, it makes things easier on a front office that has struggled to acquire appropriate bench pieces under Doc Rivers’ current regiment.

    Comparing the two players, Wilcox is much closer to becoming a rotation player than Dawson. A similar player to J.J. Redick in the sense Wilcox operated as a floor-spacer and abuser of off-ball movement. If C.J. can manage to to improve his defense (and most importantly, defensive instincts), the combination of his shooting and seldom on-ball playmaking has the makings of a rotation player the Clippers could use, especially as Redick continues to grow in age. For Dawson, who arguably obtains a higher ceiling that Wilcox given the direction the NBA is currently headed, his future will be determined by the advancements the 22-year-old’s makes on offense. Easily seen in the D-League, Dawson has yet to make himself a threat beyond five feet from the rim. Surrounding the big with shooting — and allowing his defense to be the show — works in theory but if he can find a way to extend his range (becoming a Draymond Green-esque three-point shooter would is the best-case scenario), the likelihood of being a long-term role player will increase, and the D-League delivers Dawson the opportunity to do so while not negatively affecting the Clippers and their goal for a championship.

    Next: Clippers X’s and O’s: Game 5 at Golden State Warriors

    Beside Wilcox and Dawson, some notable names on the Bakersfield Jam roster include dunk extraordinaire Terrico White and former Lakers and Cavs forward Earl Clark.

    The Bakersfield Jam begin their season on Nov. 12 when they take on 2014-15 D-League champion Santa Cruz Warriors.