Clippers Overall Team Grade
Their two biggest needs were finding a small forward and adding some backcourt depth, so the Clippers definitely made some smart decisions. (Yes, I am actually saying that about the Clippers organization.) Aminu could become the team�s starting small forward right away depending on what they do in free agency, while Bledsoe and Warren both have home run potential especially considering how low they fell. My only concern is if the Clippers end up giving a lottery pick to Oklahoma City down the line in the Bledsoe trade. But for present time, kudos to the Clips for a very impressive draft. (Grade: A-)
8. Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest
The Clippers have no small forwards on their roster and this is the ideal situation for them. With that being said, I am not sold on Aminu. He is athletic and long, but struggles from the perimeter shooting the ball and is not a dynamic slasher. If I were the Clippers, I would have tried to trade down and take Paul George or Xavier Henry. I think they will be better pros than Aminu. (Pick Grade: Meh)
18. Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky
I have made no secret about the fact that I think Bledsoe will end up being one of the top 10 players to come out of the 2010 NBA Draft so getting him at 18 is a great value. The Clippers dealt a future first-rounder to acquire him from Oklahoma City which is dangerous given the fact the Clippers end up in the lottery almost every year. But for a team in need of some backcourt depth, I think it was worth the gamble and will pay off if he can help Los Angeles get to the playoffs. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT)
54. Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma
From a probable lottery pick last year to somehow falling to 54 in this year's draft... OUCH. Warren is a terrific value for the Clippers who will hope they hit the jackpot in getting him and Eric Bledsoe. Warren was bothered by injury and a cold shooting slump, but could be a great asset off the bench for a team in need of some backcourt depth. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT)
2009-10 Season Summary:
For a change, it seemed as if fortune was finally on the Clippers side last season. They won the draft lottery and the services of sure-fire top pick Blake Griffin. However, Griffin didn't even take the court as he suffered a season-ending knee surgery, adding to the theory of the Clipper Curse. That injury quickly dashed the once promising playoff hopes as the Clips suffered through another losing season. On the bright side, Chris Kaman posted one of his most productive seasons as a pro, while second year shooting guard Eric Gordon put together a second straight solid season.
Now Los Angeles' red-headed step child enters a crucial offseason with only six players under contract, and no head coach or general manager. The Clips do have a lottery pick and about $24 million in cap space to spend. The only problem is the stereotype of the Clippers being a losing franchise might deter some of the marquee free agents from signing with them.
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Chris Kaman/DeAndre Jordan
PF: Blake Griffin/Craig Smith/Brian Cook
SF: Ryan Gomes/Al-Farouq Aminu
SG: Eric Gordon/Randy Foye/Rasual Butler/Mardy Collins
PG: Baron Davis/Eric Bledsoe/Willie Warren
NBA Free Agents:
SF Steve Novak (UFA)
F/C Brian Skinner (UFA)
PG Bobby Brown (UFA)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $50.5 million
2010-11 League Salary Cap: $58 million
Clippers re-sign G/F Rasual Butler to 1-year deal
Clippers re-sign PF Craig Smith to 1-year deal
Clippers sign PF Brian Cook to 2-year, $2.5 million deal
Clippers sign SF Ryan Gomes to 3-year, $12 million deal
Clippers sign G Randy Foye to 2-year, $8.5 million deal
Clippers acquire PG Eric Bledsoe (18th pick) from Thunder for future 1st round pick
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Slasher� The Clippers have a good foundation to build around with four of its starting five in place for next year. With Baron Davis and Eric Gordon in the backcourt and Chris Kaman and Blake Griffin patrolling the paint, the Clippers need to shore up their ability to drive to the basket with a small forward who can hit from anywhere on the floor. Getting a guy who can play a little defense wouldn't suck either.
2. A Veteran Forward� Blake Griffin is still a rookie so he might need a veteran presence to help maintain his learning curve or step in if he struggles or suffers the Clipper Curse for a second straight season. Right now Griffin is the franchise's top asset, and re-signing Drew Gooden or finding a veteran of that nature would be an insurance to help lead Blake on the right path.
3. A Horseshoe, Rabbit's Foot, Four-Leaf Clover, etc.� Even if the Clippers have cap space to work with, a good foundation to build around and a lottery pick, I guarantee something will go wrong. Bad things just continue to happen to the franchise, with only limited liability on the franchise themselves. OK, maybe a little more than limited liability, but you get my point. The injury to Griffin was just the latest incident to reinforce that the franchise is cursed. Maybe now that Mike Dunleavy is completely gone, things will turn around. Then again, probably not.