The Los Angeles Clippers continue to be a franchise without an identity. Living in the shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t be so bad, except for the fact that the Clippers have a hard time even being competitive. They were better in the 2009-10 season, but they still finished a disappointing 29-53. The Clippers have a small chance of getting the number one overall pick, but they are more likely to pick eighth based on their record. Here are a few areas of weakness for the Clippers and how they may draft to meet those needs.
Baron Davis is not the player that he once was, but he is still an effective veteran point guard. The Clippers will probably stick with Baron for another year, unless they were fortunate enough to have the ping-pong ball bounce their way. If the Clippers were able to secure the number one pick, they would likely take John Wall from Kentucky and let Davis mentor the young prospect.
At this point, Eric Gordon is probably the Clippers starting shooting guard for the time being. Gordon isn’t dominant, but he is certainly effective for a young player and he may have room to grow. Drafting a shooting guard would probably be premature, as Gordon is only going to be in his third year. Granted, Gordon has had some injury issues so the Clippers will need to keep an eye on their young guard.
The small forward position may be an area to address in the draft. Rasual Butler is serviceable, but certainly not dominant. Los Angeles may target a player like Wesley Johnson from Syracuse or Al-Farouq Aminu from Wake Forest. Granted, both of these players may be gone by the time the Clippers pick. Therefore, they may go with someone like Ed Davis from North Carolina, who could play the role of a bigger small forward.
When it comes to the power forward position, much depends on the health of Blake Griffin. In theory, Griffin should solidify this position for a decade. However, missing a rookie season due to injury may be a bad sign of things to come. Therefore, the Clippers may have to resign themselves to picking a power forward for insurance purposes. The previously mentioned Ed Davis may fit the bill. Los Angeles could also go with the likes of Greg Monroe from Georgetown, Ekpe Udoh from Baylor, or Patrick Patterson from Kentucky.
The center position is perhaps the most stable part of the Clippers roster. Chris Kaman had a very solid year with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Assuming Kaman can stay healthy and productive, the Clippers may not have to draft a center for a few more years. Of course, Kaman has had some injury problems at times so the Clips may not be able to rely on him exclusively.
The Clippers continue to struggle with finding a rhythm in the NBA. Some blame it on injuries, while others think it is because of owner Donald Sterling. In either case, the Clippers have an opportunity with a healthy Blake Griffin and a lottery pick to continue their improvement in the competitive NBA. The 2010-11 season may actually be a successful year for the “other” team in Los Angeles.