LA Clippers: 1 Rookie to be confident in and 1 to be wary of

Brandon Boston Jr (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Brandon Boston Jr (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

When it comes to their new guys, there’s plenty for the LA Clippers to be excited about.

They turned one draft pick into three in July’s NBA Draft, and all three have shown promise in one way or another as they look to make an impact on the league.

First trading up for the ultra-athletic Keon Johnson out of Tennesee, the Clippers then used a pick acquired from Orlando to select Jason Preston 33rd overall. Brandon Boston Jr. was then acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans to seal an eventful draft night for L.A.

With five NBA Summer League and four preseason games having been played, there are some early signs of what to be excited about and what to be wary of with the newest LA Clippers.

The LA Clippers have reason to be confident in Brandon Boston Jr.

After he had an impressive Las Vegas Summer League, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if the play of Brandon Boston Jr. took a dip as he started playing against more NBA talent in the preseason. That didn’t happen.

Scoring in double digits in all but the preseason finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston has shown he doesn’t lack for being aggressive on the court. Nicolas Batum broke down Boston’s game well after his 20-point, seven-rebound night against the Sacramento Kings on October 6.

Whether his shot has been falling or not, Boston has affected games in other ways with his hustle on the boards and making plays for others. Playing with intensity is definitely a way to get noticed by coaches and teammates, and he’s been doing it better than any other rookie on the Clippers so far.

Why the Clippers should approach the usage of Keon Johnson with caution

The Clippers clearly saw something they liked about Keon Johnson last July, which is why they moved up on the board to make sure he’d still be available to him. Save for an impressive showing in one summer league game against Utah and some flashes here and there, he has been underwhelming in Los Angeles so far.

Obviously, it’s way too early to make any real judgments about Johnson’s game just yet. After all, he’s just 19 with one year of college under his belt. That said, the Clippers must be aware that the Vols product will likely be more of a project than an immediate impact player.

Johnson’s offensive game was tough to watch at times in the summer league, as he missed 18 of his 20 attempts from beyond the arc in the Clippers’ four losses. In his three games played in the preseason, he shot 4-of-14 for a 28.5% mark.

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Keon’s all-around game will need some polishing before he can expect to get some meaningful minutes in Los Angeles, and that’s perfectly fine. With guys like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to work with, the Clippers shouldn’t have to be wary very long.