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2021 NBA Draft Profiles: Los Angeles Clippers

The 2021 NBA Draft will take place on July 29. With the draft coming up, The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for each NBA team. NBA squads will be analyzed, team needs will be addressed and potential targets will be discussed.

Today, the Los Angeles Clippers’ 2021 NBA Draft Profile will be presented.

Summary

The second season of the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George era in Los Angeles was a marked improvement over the first. Leonard had another stellar season, making both an All-NBA team and an All-Defensive team for the third year in a row. And while Leonard stayed consistent, George improved on what was a disappointing year by his standards in 2019-2020. He put up his most efficient shooting season to date and made a return to the all-star game after missing out the year before.

Clippers draft profile
Leonard and George on signing day 2019 (Image by Kevork Djansezian)

The two stars were helped by a bevy of talented role players, including some new additions thanks to a savvy Clippers front office. Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka and Rajon Rondo were all new faces on the roster who contributed greatly to the team’s three-point shooting and defensive efforts. Combined with great seasons from players like Terrence Mann, Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson the Clippers had arguably the deepest team in the league and will hope to retain that label next year as well. 

Even with an unlucky injury to Kawhi Leonard during the playoffs, the Clippers still made it all the way to game six of the Conference Finals without him. This is a team that has the talent and tools to win a title, and expect them to act as such with their acquisitions. But with one or both of Batum and Jackson likely to leave this offseason, they’ll have some work to do. 

Picks

The Los Angeles Clippers have one pick in this year’s NBA draft.

First Round: Pick No. 25

Team Needs

Rim Protection

The one glaring weakness of the Clippers over the past couple of years has been at the center position. Ivica Zubac and Demarcus Cousins are serviceable rebounders and scorers, but neither provides great post defense or rim protection. 

As a team, the Clippers ranked second to last in the NBA last season in blocks per game. Having Serge Ibaka back for a full season should help solve the problem to an extent, but Los Angeles could still use another athletic, shot-blocking big man.

A Foul-Drawer

The Clippers are overloaded with players who can shoot the three-ball, which their league-leading 41% three-point percentage can attest to. But at the expense of this shooting barrage, the Clippers struggled to get to the line. They ranked 28th in free throw attempts last season. 

Even though it’s due to their style of play, it’s always good to have at least a couple of players who are good at getting to the line on a regular basis. No matter the position, the Clippers should look to acquire such a player this offseason either through the draft or free agency.

Projected Target

Round 1, Pick 25: Charles Bassey PF/C (Western Kentucky)

There are a few intriguing big man prospects that may be available with pick #25. Usman Garuba could be an interesting selection if he falls, Isaiah Jackson brings raw rim-protecting potential, and Day’Ron Sharpe’s impressive offensive rebounding would be useful. But for a win-now team like the Clippers, Charles Bassey out of Western Kentucky checks all the boxes.

Clippers draft profile
Western Kentucky Basketballs Charles Bassey (wkusports.com)

Last season, Bassey bounced back from an injury-riddled sophomore year to the tune of 17.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game. The 2020-2021 Conference USA Player of the Year winner is just the type of player the Clippers need. He comes into the league with a strong 6’11”, 235-pound frame, a reputation as one of the best shot blockers in college basketball, and has potential as a shooter. The cherry on top, he’s a career 77% free throw shooter whose free throw rate would be the second-highest on the Clippers roster. 

Bassey is not a perfect prospect by any means, he has shown only a flash of ability as a passer and his post game lacks the finesse needed to be truly effective at the NBA level, but there’s no better prospect at pick 25 to help the Clippers right away at the position they need most. 

All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and NBA.com

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