III. Team Analysis
Michael Olowokandi - starter - When they drafted him the Clips knew he was a project. For the first time, last season, they finally started acting like he was. Kandi's numbers were down across the board, but his play was much improved. He learned to be a team player. Setting screens, passing out of the post, clearing out for teammates and many other little things that make his team better. Though still inconsistent, at times, the improvements in Kandi's game showed even if Kandi was not putting up numbers. The Clips were doing better with him on the floor. Kandi can be given an extension this summer and will be a restricted free-agent after next season. Despite reports to the contrary, Baylor says the Clips have no plans to trade him, and will most likely resign him if he shows improvement next season.
Sean Rooks - backup - Co-captain of the Clippers with Lamar Odom. He stepped up in many games to hit shots, make free-throws or get an important rebound. Rooks has been reborn with the Clippers and is highly respected by the younger players. His veteran experience and cool play late in games were very important to the Clippers improved record. He should be around for one more year at least, as the reliable back-up to Kandi.
Darius Miles - off bench - but main
Super Star in training. Miles played at many different positions last season. Back-up to Odom at small forward. Starting shooting guard. And, finally power forward. At power forward he stuck, and his play proved it to be his natural position. Miles had a little trouble with some of the bigger PF's in the West and the coaching staff started Parks so Miles could come in when they were a little worn down, but for the most part he played extremely well. Miles is in a strength training program and it is going well. He will play on the Clipper's summer league team.
Cherokee Parks - starter - but few minutes
Parks started at power forward though he played fewer minutes than Miles. Acquired in a mid-season trade for Tyrone Nesby he soon passed several other power forwards to take the 2nd PF spot. The coaching staff were happy with his play, particularly his outside shooting which helped spread the floor. He was also very popular with his teammates. He is a free-agent this summer. He wants to remain with the Clippers, but the management has said that will have to be decided after the draft when the Clippers know their needs.
Brian Skinner - bench - Was doing great two seasons back when he had a bad ankle sprain. He missed the rest of the 1999-2000 season. He returned to play in the summer league and pre-season and looked and played well. Once the regular season started though his performance fell off badly. I do not know if it is still the ankle or what, but he was all but worthless to the Clippers for the season. He has another year on his contract (Clippers took the extension when he was playing well) so he may be back, but they were trying to trade him mid-season.
Derek Strong - bench - Did not play all that much. He seemed to do well when given a chance. His contract was the price of getting Maggette and Dooling so I guess the Clips never really expected to use him much. Still has another year and is almost certain to remain for it.
Zendon Hamilton - injured reserve - Was on the 'Injured Reserve List' all season. Coaching staff like him. He is said to be an excellent practice player and is very well liked by his teammates. I doubt bringing him back is a priority, but it would not surprise me to see him on the roster again next season.
Lamar Odom - starter - Budding super star. Odom was a little more settled in his second year, though he still showed some immaturity at times. Skills wise he continues to improve, but he can already do any and everything well. He is the teams leader both on and off the floor, and that is a tough job at his age. Most notable last season may have been his suspension due to a violation of the substance abuse policy. Hopefully he is working on that part of his personal life in the off season to avoid such problems in the future.
Corey Maggette - backup - Corey really improved his outside shooting and guard skills during the season, and in doing so forced the Clips to find minutes for him. He was the Clips main defensive stopper on players like Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant. He also was the best Clipper at bringing points off the bench. He is the main back-up to Odom at SF, but there are few minutes for him there. They started playing him more and more at SG. He did well at SG, but still needs to improve his guard skills to start there. By the end of the season the Clips had fallen in love with him and it seems he fits in their long term plans. You cannot rule out a trade though because of his increased trade value and the back-log of SG's on the Clippers.
Eric Piatkowski - starter - A life time Clipper and another veteran that did a lot to help bring the young Clips along. Mainly a shooter, Pike has improved his all-around play particularly his defense. His main benefit to the team though is spreading the floor with his three-point shooting. He is a life-time Clipper and I doubt he will ever want to leave. With the new rules coming I think his value to the team will go up, but like Maggette you cannot rule out a trade just because of the lack of minutes at SG.
Quentin Richardson - backup - He was hot early on and even was the starting shooting guard for a time. He was over taken though by Pike's experience and Maggette's improved play. So, even though he continued to play well his minutes got less and less. His main areas to work on were energy & speed on defense and outside shooting. Like Pike and Maggette he should be back, but you cannot rule out a trade due to a lack of minutes at SG. He will play on the Clipper's summer league team.
Jeff McInnis - starter - A former MVP of the CBA he has found a home with the Clips. He is an excellent mid-range shooter off-the-dribble and he improved his three-point shooting during the season until he could hit the spot up three with regularity. He also is very good at taking care of the ball. He is not truly a creating PG, but with Odom on the team that is not needed. There are a few problems with him. One he argues too much with the refs, and his defense is particularly poor at times. He wanted to renegotiate his contract after his great season, but the Clips declined and took an option at the minim salary. Maybe it is the failed contract negotiation or the reports that they feel he is a bad influence on Odom, but I get the feeling this will be his last season as a Clipper.
Keyon Dooling - backup - Did not get much playing time due to the play of McInnis. When he got time he did OK, sometimes showed some real promise, sometimes showed he is very young for a PG. Management and the coaching staff say he is the Clipper's PG of the future so he may see more minutes next season. He is a better defender than McInnis and way more athletic. He will play on the Clipper's summer league team.
Earl Boykins - injured reserve - Another guy who was on the IRL most of the season. He got more of a chance to play though and did well at times. He is tiny but fast. Again the coaching staff likes him, so I would not be surprised if he is invited back, but he will not be a priority.
Keith Closs - released - Suspended due to failing to meet training requirements before the season. He was waived after the season.
Marko Jaric - playing in Europe - He was the Clippers #30 pick in the 2000 draft. He is playing in Europe for the EuroLeague Champions, Kinder Bologna. He has said he intends to play for the Clips in the 2002-2003 season. He is a 6-7 210 G/F who can play PG, SG or SF. Known as one of the best on-the-ball defenders in Europe he averaged 13 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2.3 steals, while shooting 46% (39% from three) in the EuroLeague Play-offs.
(iii) Other players considered:
1. Eddie Griffin
He was very impressive at his work-out with the Clippers. He was said to be hitting every shot and showing a great deal of skill in all the fundamental areas of the game. Eddie was also taller than his listed height of 6-9, take his height the way most NBA players do with shoes on and he is taller than most player listed at 6-10. He has also been hitting the weights and the Clips felt he was well suited to either the power or small forward roles. It should also be noted that he is still younger than some of the high schoolers in this years draft. He can hit from outside, he showed good NBA three-point range, and handle the ball well enough, though he needs to improve a little, to be a small forward. He has the rebounding, shot-blocking and post moves to play the power position as well. He is an excellent defender, both individually and in help situations. He is not as good at on-the-ball defense, but then he has not often been asked to do that, so there is no reason to think he cannot excel there too. Athletically he is extraordinary in all aspects; speed, quickness, strength, jumping, agility. He is cool on the court and very fundamentally sound in his play.
About the only problem with Eddie is a character question. He got into two fights with teammates. Once being expelled from high school for starting a fight. The second in college which took his highly ranked team on a slide to the NIT, with a quick exit. The Clips seem to have discussed this with him and do not feel it is deep seated. Clips have taken a chance on 'damaged goods' before and got Lamar Odom at #4, I think that gives them confidence. Griffin is friends with a couple of members of the Clips, and that could help with this problem as well.
Altogether I think the pluses of Griffin outweigh the character problem. The Clips have been following him for some time. When he was still in high school in fact. Clips had hoped he had declared out of high school last year, in which case they may have chosen him over Darius Miles. If he does not go #1 (which I think he will) the Clips should and most likely will take him with the #2 pick.
In his senior season he averaged 32.6 minutes, 43% field goals, 32% three-pointers, 73% free-throws, 10.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 0.9 steals, 4.4 blocks and 17.8 points per game.
2. Tyson Chandler
Tyson is a local boy from Southern California. Elgin Baylor has been to most of his games for at least two years now. He had a work-out with the Clippers just after the Clippers found out they had the #2 pick. Reports are that he did extremely well other than in his offensive post moves. Potential is a word often thrown around as a synonym for unskilled, but with Tyson it means a little more. Though a true 7' without shoes he is one of the most athletic players in the draft. reports and my observations are he can run and jump as well as any guard in the NBA. His most developed skill is as a shot-blocker and defender. He can block shots with either hand and has fantastic timing. He can cover guards on the perimeter, either on or off the ball and has done well guarding NBA frontcourt players in the post during summer bigman camps.
Offensively he plays more like a small forward than a center or power forward. His posts moves are not well developed. He is good hitting the jumper or taking it to the hoop off the dribble and in transition. He can make his own shots and can hit the NBA three, though he is better shooting from about 18'. Around the basket he is very active on offensive rebounds, having a good touch on tips and finishing with authority. He also has excellent passing ability for his size, and can either start the break or be the finisher.
Chandler does have a couple of weaknesses though. He has poor footwork with his back to the basket and his frame may be too slight to play down there in the NBA regardless. He has been working out with a coach and trainer and is said to have gained some upper body strength. He is also the youngest of the high schoolers in the draft and he has a frame that looks like he will gain some more weight when he stops growing. Some have also questioned his desire. Few specifics are given as to why, mostly just the bland statement. Perhaps this is a result of losing his coach his senior year to what appeared to be unfounded sexual abuse charges. It is hard to tell, but without more substantiation, I think I will have to discount these reports, especially since reliable sources who know him report the opposite.
Take as a whole Chandler may be a little bit of a project. He can most likely help the Clippers right away with his defense and outside scoring ability. Will he ever get to the point where he can play some back up center? Hard to tell, but with his height and shot blocking skills he has a head start on it, and if he can gain some more strength he should give NBA centers a tough match-up with his athleticism and outside skills. At this time he is most likely #2 on the Clippers list behind Eddie Griffin.
Chandler averaged 26 points, 15 rebounds, 8 blocked shots and 3.2 assist in his senior year of high school.
3. Eddy Curry
Curry has not worked out for any team so far. He is said to be trying to get in better shape first, they want him down to around 280 before he does his work-outs with teams. He did accept an invitation to work-out with Michael Jordan though, like who would not? Clips are supposed to have him in before the draft but it seems his agent is trying to wait to the last minute. From what I have seen I like Curry, and he is friends with several of the young Clips from Chicago so he would fit in nicely team chemistry wise.
He does need to watch his weight. He was 310 in high school, that is way too much for a guy who is some where between 6-9 and 6-11. They call him 'Baby-Shaq' well I got news for you, Shaq was a relatively skinny 260 after he bulked up for his 1st year of college. He plays mainly on the floor, which has many NBA scouts comparing him to Benoit Benjamin, Oliver Miller, Stanley Roberts and other players who had the size but never developed into good NBA centers. Since I started on his bad side he also is a poor ballhandler, he can neither dribble nor pass at an acceptable level for the NBA, which makes him very susceptible to being successfully double teamed, something that cost his team their title game. When pressured by better players he tends to throw up shots, so though he is shooting over 60% for his field goals he shot 28% in his match-up with Tyson Chandler. He is not particularly fast down the court and as his grounded play would indicate he does not have a lot of jumping ability. This most likely explains why he is the worst shot blocker of the 4 top high school kids.
OK, now on to the good points. He has a beautiful touch around the basket, and is by far the best scorer of the top four high school kids. He has good agility inside and has multiple moves, finishing with a soft shot that gets him many rolls. He can also hit the jumper out to about 15'. He also has great lower body strength and can most likely back down even some NBA centers. I have not got much look at his defensive skills so I just am not going to go into them, wish he had worked out so I could hear what leaked. Reports out of his agent and trainer say he has addressed many of the complaints about fitness and speed.
Overall, I like the kid. Wish I had some better info to go on though. The knock many give him about his size and game being more suited to power forward will not bother the Clips at all. I saw him in a Fox Sports show standing next to Miles, and though he is not much taller he is a whole lot beefier and even if he never turns into Shaq II, he seems to have the desire and potential to be a good NBA player. Right now I am sticking him third, but he could move up or down depending how the work-outs go when he finally gets to doing some.
He averaged 24.6 points (hitting 62% of his shots, 5 of 18 three-pointers & 65% of his free-throws), 11.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 4.2 blocks his senior year in high school.
4. Loren Woods
He was the first to work out for the Clips. He was scheduled before the lottery when the Clips figured to get the #8 pick. He was the only one of the ones invited to work-outs before the lottery that did not have his work-out canceled. He is not expected to go as high as #2, but he has had some very impressive work-outs including his one for the Clips. He is 7-1 about 240 and athletic for starters. He is a very good shot blocker, his long reach and height allowing him to get many without leaving the floor, though he can also get up for some spectacular blocks. He has a nice jumper and was hitting out to NBA three range by some accounts. He is unselfish and when he can't get a shot is quick to look for the open man, which he has the passing skills to hit. He has some post moves and has a great touch around the basket. His rebounding is a slight weakness as he tends not to establish and keep good position, relying more on his height and reach. Most of the questions about him have to do with is disappearing act at times and the residuals from a back injury. A good physical will answer one question, only time will tell if the other will be a problem in the NBA. Altogether he is the perfect guy to fit the Clips needs, and if they still had the #8 he would be my favorite for the pick, but he most likely will not go that high. He does not have potential like the high schoolers, but hey you know what you are getting and he just may turn out to be better than any of them in the long run.
In 29 games his senior year he averaged 30.3 minutes, 50.4% on field goals, 83% on free-throws, 6.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 0.7 steals, 2.9 blocks and 13.2 points per game. He also made 1 of 3 three-point shots he tried.
5. Shane Battier
The safe choice, he is scheduled for a work out with the Clips next week. He is a small forward at 6-8 and 220 or so, and I do not know where they would play him unless Odom moved to point guard, and even then the Clips have Miles, Maggette and Pike who could play small forward. He is a nice player though and I like him a lot. I think he will turn out something like Rick Fox and George Lynch, an excellent role player. He is not overly athletic, but is no slouch either. He can hit the open NBA three, though he cannot create his own shot. He is a heady defender though he lacks the physical talent to be a great one. Unselfish and a decent passer. Does not have good dribbling skills but is good taking care of the ball. His character is impeccable and he has been praised for his leadership. Any team could use a guy like him, do you want to use a high draft pick on him when you already have several players at his position? Well, baring a really great work-out I do not think the Clips will. Still I like the guy and would not be unhappy if he was a Clipper.
He averaged 35 minutes, 47% field goals, 41% three-pointers, 80% free-throws, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 2.1 steals, 2.2 blocks and 19.9 points in his senior year at Duke.
6. Kwame Brown
One of the older high schoolers he is actually older than Eddie Griffin. Form reports he is similar in many ways to Griffin. He has not worked out for any teams and the only time I ever saw him play was at the All-American game, that is a poor place to judge his talent, though he did look good there. Like Chandler he is said to be versatile and scores from the wings instead of inside. Height like with Curry is a big question, he is listed from 6-8 to 6-11, with some even stating he is sure to grow to 7-2. My best guess is he is between 6-9 and 6-10 and adding the 1" for shoes most NBA players include in their heights he is somewhere around 6-10 plus, doubt he is still growing though, most are not when they start to fill out. He is an above average passer for his size and likes to run the break where he passes off instead of finishing. Many disagree on where he will play in the NBA, but I have one quote from him saying he thinks he is a small forward and he does not want to play center. He is a good athlete with nice shot blocking ability. Not much more info available on him until he does some work-outs. One thing he did that turned me off was decline an invite by Michael Jordan to work-out with him, because he was not in good enough shape. Sorry, but that is ever basketball players dream, and it raises big questions in me about his readiness and desire. I do not really like him much for the Clips, but he could change that if he has a good work out.
He averaged 20.2 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.8 blocks and 3.2 assists 2.2 steals his senior year in high school.
7. DeSagana Diop
He has not played much basketball, only starting about two years ago. He is like an even rawer Kandi I guess. A good athlete who played football (soccer) instead of basketball. He could dominate with his size in high school but I have no idea how that will transfer to the NBA. He has also had a stress fracture in his foot, and Clips know about bigmen with bad feet, it is what ruined the franchise in San Diego, and Diop does not have 10% the talent Bill Walton had. He is also the oldest high schooler, I think he will be over 19-1/2 on draft day. Size is also a question, they say seven foot, but in pictures I have seen of him against Chandler he does not look nearly as tall. My guess is 6-11 in shoes, and like Curry he is way too heavy. Some comments about him being a Benoit Benjamin, Oliver Miller, Stanley Roberts type. He can block shots, but just about every other aspect of his game has been called raw. Several reports have him unable to guard the likes of Chad Bell and Jamal Sampson, that does not bode well for his playing man defense in the NBA. I think he is a nice athlete with size that may develop into a good NBA center, but Clippers already have that guy, Kandi. With his health problems it seems better to steer clear of him.
He averaged 14.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and 8.1 blocks per game his senior year.