Los Angeles Clippers: 15 best draft picks of all-time

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Ernie DiGregorio, Buffalo Braves
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If only he stayed healthy. In the early beginnings of the Braves/Clippers franchise, Buffalo had itself one outstanding point guard. That guy was former Providence Friars point guard Ernie DiGregorio. For a while, he was a shining star there in Buffalo. However, it did not last.

DiGregorio was taken No. 3 overall by the Braves in the 1973 NBA Draft. He was coming off an All-American season with the Friars and was beginning to set the league on fire as a rookie. DiGregorio was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1973-74 and was named to the All-Rookie first team. He would lead the NBA in assists per game (8.2) and free throw percentage (90.2) that season.

Sadly, DiGregorio’s NBA career would be shortened by a knee injury. He would only play four seasons with the Braves before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for cash considerations in 1977. DiGregorio would later be waived by the Lakers, signing with the Boston Celtics to close out the 1979-80 NBA season and his career.

While he would lead the league in free throw percentage for a second time in 1976-77, DiGregorio is best known for his short, but promising NBA career with the Braves. Had he played into his 30s, DiGregorio could have re-joined his former franchise in San Diego as the Clippers. Things would have been different for the Braves/Clippers had DiGregorio had been able to stay healthy.