Clippers Draft Targets: Could Dorian Finney-Smith be a steal?

Jan 30, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) reacts after he dunks the ball during the second half of a basketball game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Stephen C. O
Jan 30, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) reacts after he dunks the ball during the second half of a basketball game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Stephen C. O /

He won’t be their top wing target, but Dorian Finney-Smith could be a small forward for the Los Angeles Clippers to consider in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft.

An explosive, 6’8″, 215 lbs small forward with a 41-inch vertical? That sounds like the makeup of a guy that the Los Angeles Clippers could be interested in. They need a wing and we’ve already looked at a bunch of possible targets for them. Given their proven versatility and ability with their own respective skill sets, the likes of DeAndre Bembry and Taurean Prince still headline the shortlist of wings the Clippers should consider taking.

Nevertheless, depending on who Doc Rivers can land in the first round, could Dorian Finney-Smith be someone to consider in the second round?

At first glance, with such physical measurements and a wingspan half an inch shy of 7’0″, not to mention his leaping ability, Finney-Smith seems like someone who should be near the top of the Clippers’ target list. They need a wing, and Finney-Smith fits the physical bill.

With that combination of size, length, and a high defensive motor, he’s shown the ability to guard and switch onto every position from point guard to power forward. And while he won’t find as much success guarding the quickest backcourt players at an NBA level due to his limited lateral speed, Finney-Smith is more than adequate as a defensive combo forward.

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First and foremost, he plays with intensity and won’t back down if he’s beaten by his man. Even when he’s outmatched in terms of speed by a buzzing point guard, he’ll do all he can to backtrack in the lane and contest shots at the rim. The same applies to his play at the perimeter, where he uses his energy and length to cover multiple positions effectively, being used to switch onto almost anyone his teams requires of him.

The other bonus with Finney-Smith’s size and motor is his excellent rebounding. In 31.8 minutes per game last season, he averaged 8.3 rebounds a night to rank 5th in the SEC. Such versatile defense, added rim protection from the wing (0.8 blocks per game), and rebounding will be valued by the Clippers whenever he’s on the floor.

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As a scorer, he may not be the creator that someone like Bembry is, but Finney-Smith can produce in a backup role playing off-ball for the Clippers, which is largely going to be the case for any rookie in Doc Rivers’ rotation. He’s a reliable catch-and-shoot threat, shot 36.6 percent from three last season with two makes per game, and can take the ball inside using his long strides and strong finishes at the rim, especially when taking slower fours off the dribble. Either when facing up or looking to cut to the basket, he’s an active player and can both spread the floor and add more threat with quick drives than the likes of Luc Mbah a Moute or Paul Pierce.

There are problems with Finney-Smith’s game that hold him back from being on the level of first-round wing prospects, though. He takes very few jump shots off the dribble and doesn’t look comfortable when he does, creating concern about his restrictions offensively when he can’t rely on open looks or clear lanes to the basket.

To go along with that weak pull-up game, he doesn’t have the best handle and certainly can’t control the ball like Bembry, often struggling to create space for a jumper or weave past tough defenders in isolation.

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On defense, a lack of high-end speed will give him a tougher time competing against the fastest athletes in the game when entering the NBA. When either switching onto point guards outside or preventing drives from stellar athletes like Paul George and Kevin Durant, Finney-Smith may struggle.

Of course, this doesn’t undo his other strengths and potential to be a sound defensive role player, but it holds him back from being on the level of someone like Taurean Prince, who has more than enough length and lateral quickness to succeed at the next level.

It’s in comparison to Prince (a faster defender and more talented shot creator off the dribble) and Bembry (again, a better shot creator and clearly the best passer of the three) that Finney-Smith’s offensive limitations and lack of high-end speed reduce his value to the Clippers and his projected landing spot in the draft as a whole. DraftExpress only have him going at 57, so there are clearly reasons as to why he falls behind top wing prospects.

Next: Top 5 wings for Clippers to target in 2016 Draft

Nevertheless, if Doc surprises us and wants to take a pair of wing players (it would be best to take a big man, but you never know), the Clippers acquire a later second round pick from a trade to move up, or other priorities aren’t available, Finney-Smith is the kind of late option that could carve out a valuable role and contribute early on.