Clippers: What positions to target in 2016 NBA Draft

Feb 6, 2016; Morgantown, WV, USA; Baylor Bears forward Taurean Prince (21) reacts to a call during the first half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at the WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2016; Morgantown, WV, USA; Baylor Bears forward Taurean Prince (21) reacts to a call during the first half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at the WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports /

With multiple areas across the team that could be addressed, what positions should the Los Angeles Clippers prioritize in the 2016 NBA Draft?

Depending on how their tough standing in free agency develops, the Los Angeles Clippers may need multiple additions for next season. Many players on the roster are free agents or have a player option for 2016-17, leaving Doc Rivers with more pressure to help the team as much as possible with his picks in the 2016 NBA Draft (the 25th and 33rd overall selections).

Of course, the problem with Doc is that it’s no secret the team hasn’t drafted well as of late and playing or developing young talent is something that receives minimal emphasis at best. Once joining the Clippers, a rookie is going to have a hard time finding many minutes.

Nevertheless, with a tricky free agent situation and the always-illusive search for a quality wing, the Clippers’ need to find some success in this year’s draft is undeniable. Because whether or not rookie acquisitions become features in L.A.’s possible D-League team or support the Clippers with a small role at the end of Doc’s rotation, the team needs all the help it can get in order to make one final run at a championship with the current core.

So, what position should be their top priority?

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Well, seeing as Luc Mbah a Moute plays great defense but can’t space the floor, Jeff Green is inconsistent, Paul Pierce has been defeated by Father Time, and Wesley Johnson ended the season as a fairly streaky 33 percent three-point shooter, a new wing is still the main target.

Furthermore, beyond the flaws of each small forward currently lining the Clippers’ roster, they’re all free agents or have player options (except for Pierce who is ’50/50′ to retire) and Doc can’t re-sign them all, leaving a spot available for a rookie to find some minutes.

If the Clippers can get their hands on a promising 3-and-D talent to contribute in such a role off the bench, potentially growing into a key player somewhere down the line, that should be the priority. Top-tier wings are hard to find at a reasonable price in the NBA now, and given the Clippers’ near nonexistent cap space this year, they won’t be finding an upgrade in free agency. At the very least, they can consider the future and their bench for the time being.

More clippers: Which guards should the Clippers pursue in free agency?

A possible top target (I’ll have more analysis on prospects for the Clippers soon) is a 6’8″ small forward like Taurean Prince, possessing impressive range and three-point shooting, physical defense and fast reactions, and the ability to guard multiple positions at the perimeter and possibly grow into a stretch power forward in small rotations, too.

The secondary priority should be finding a big man to solidify the frontcourt rotation, a need that only becomes more pressing if Cole Aldrich leaves L.A. in free agency. The Josh Smith small-ball experiment failed in dire fashion, and the presence of Aldrich to provide a pick-and-roll option on offense while anchoring the paint with his rim protection, rebounding, and general hustle all over the floor was a vast improvement.

Whether Doc is willing to utilize a typical big rotation with Aldrich and a rookie for a few minutes a night (sometimes small-ball isn’t always the best option) or wants a secondary option behind Aldrich, the need for some added interior presence is vital for the Clippers.

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As of right now, the dream-like scenario for big men could be Domantas Sabonis of Gonzaga falling to Clippers with the 25th pick. He’s a highly talented big man and an excellent post scorer (17.6 points on 61.1 percent shooting this season), thus providing the bench with a new option to add some diversity to their perimeter-reliant offense and much-needed rebounding (11.8 per game).

Finally, with the least priority, a case could be made to sign a point guard, especially with Pablo Prigioni‘s age (39 by the start of next season) and Austin Rivers potentially receiving a pay rise as a free agent this summer. If either leaves and the Clippers aren’t confident they’ll be able to afford a sound replacement in free agency, looking to the draft to solidify the end of the rotation may be a good idea with the second pick (33rd overall). Already, they’ve worked out a young backcourt prospect in Isaiah Briscoe of Kentucky.

Next: 2016 Draft: Can Clippers steal Domantas Sabonis?

Ultimately, we really can’t know who Doc may want to pursue in the draft. But if the team’s obvious long-term need for a promising two-way wing is in his mind as much as those who watch the Clippers, and the relatively shallow frontcourt is something he’s concerned with, a small forward and power forward/center must be the top priorities.