Clippers: C.J. Wilcox is too good for the D-League


It took no time for C.J. Wilcox to make his presence felt as a member of the Canton Charge: one day after the Clippers announced the Wilcox’s latest D-League assignment, the shooting guard contributed 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting 10 rebounds, and 3 assists in the Charge’s victory over the Bakersfield Jam.

Replicating previous work in the D-League, the majority of Wilcox’s contributions came by way of his improving jump shot, with five of the nine shots made coming from behind the arch and a couple others from mid-range. C.J. even showed off his playmaking out of the pick-and-roll, as well as a on-off again ability to drive from the perimeter.

any conversation based around his eventual NBA fit and turnout is based off pure speculation

If you’re keeping track of Wilcox’s progression from his rookie season to the Summer League to now, it’s ever apparent he’s steadily growing as a player, and at the worst, sharpening the tools already in the shed. It’d take a deep dive to see if he’s improved enough on the defensive end to not be considered a liability on that side of the floor when — if ever — asked to contribute on the NBA level. Or if he’s improved his handle enough to create space between himself and NBA defenders; or if he’s capable of finishing at a respectable level around the rim. But what is clear? Wilcox is just too good for the D-League.

In Wilcox being too good, I mean that in the least demeaning way possible, because with each passing year the D-League is improving in play quality and talent. To simplify that thought, it has everything to do with playing level and zero to do with ego or arrogance. Wilcox is just one of the many players who operates in a space where he’s excellent in the minor league and a virtual unknown/just not good in the major league.

Including Wilcox’s outing with the Charge, eight of C.J.’s nine D-League games, he’s scored at least 18 points, with the one being a 10-point, 4-assist, 3-rebound performance in 35 minutes. In those eight games, Wilcox has finished with a field-goal percentage of at least 41%, and six of those eight, he’s shot at least 50% from the field. That’s impressive, regardless the level of play, because these are the same areas the shooting guard struggled in his rookie season.

Why the deep emphasis on Wilcox’s shooting numbers, and little on his all-around game? For one, shooting is what Wilcox does — it was in the top spots of any scouting reports about the University of Washington product. If he’s hitting shots he’s useful, simple as that. If not, things get iffy but it’s good to see he’s learning to work around shooting stints by improving his game. And like those before him, if the shot is falling, the rest of the game opens up for him and the thousands who spend time training to be the best of the best, reps, provided by the D-League as of now, are a must hone it comes to player development.

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For perspective, you know who else is too good for the D-League? Westchester Knicks point guard Jimmer Fredette — you may have heard of him before. But there’s a stark difference in Wilcox’s good and Fredette’s good, as Wilcox possesses talents that can translate into rotation-level talent at some point in his NBA career; the opposite can be said for Fredette, who’s received numerous chances to prove he’s worthy of being one of 15 on a NBA roster, failing at every stop along the way before finally settling with the Knicks’ D-League franchise.

That isn’t Wilcox, but again, any conversation based around his eventual NBA fit and turnout is based off pure speculation. His talents makes one believe he’d be a perfect fit for the Clippers on offense, a team who could use some low usage shooters to fit between the plethora of high usage guys Doc Rivers has placed together. Playing alongside Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, or Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson, all average-to-great playmakers at their respective positions, Wilcox would welcome open attempts.

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Seeing rookies and second year players around the league make an impact on their teams kind of makes one long to see Wilcox play meaningful minutes for the first time ever, with majority of that longing having to do with just seeing if Doc Rivers has done “it” again an blown another first-round Clippers pick, and the rest, the small bit in my body that believes Wilcox can be a rotation player in a league where the emphasis is circling around floor-spacing and shooting threes.

But until that time comes, Wilcox will have to settle with dominating the D-League, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; just the truth.