CJ Wilcox became the newest member of the Los Angeles Clippers, selected with the 28th pick in the 2014 NBA draft. The 6’5″, 195-pound small forward was named to two All Pac-12 teams at University of Washigton. The 23-year-old played all four years in Seattle and gained notoriety for a 6-9 ¾ wingspan and shooting nearly 40 percent from behind the arc.
Head coach and newly promoted president of basketball operations Doc Rivers entered the draft coveting frontcourt help behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, a player to push Matt Barnes on the wing or someone to fill Darren Collison‘s role, as he’ll likely get a bigger paycheck elsewhere. Curiously, Rivers went with another 2-guard despite the presence of J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and their 2013 pick.
Clippers select CJ Wilcox. Little surprising since recently drafted Reggie Bullock. — Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 27, 2014
Among the prospects the Clippers were monitoring this summer was Michigan center Mitch McGary, surprisingly taken seven spots ahead by Oklahoma City.
Cleanthony Early, another top collegiate player out of Wichita State, was on the board. Point guard Jordan Clarkson was there as well.
But the Clippers 35.2 percent from three finished 22nd in the league last year. In Wilcox, Rivers hopes he’s found another deadly three-point shooter to space the floor behind Redick. There’s reason for optimism. Wilcox never finished a season hitting below 35 percent from long range and drained 301 triples as a Husky.
With a $76.2 payroll that will only shed about $5 million on July 1, the Clippers are capped out. They’ll have only the full mid-level exception at their disposal to make improvements elsewhere. This put a bigger premium on adding NBA-ready talent Thursday night, and Wilcox has an NBA-ready shot–maybe the best available.
C.J. Wilcox 28 to Clippers. Dunno if many outside Pac-12 realize how good a shooter he is.
— Bruce Pascoe (@BrucePascoe) June 27, 2014
A pure shooter, Wilcox can score of catch-and-shoots or pull-ups. But he has liabilities that start with defense, as Draft Express’s Matt Kamalsky observes:
On the defensive end, Wilcox has room to improve. Lacking great lateral quickness, he tends to be too upright when trying to deny dribble penetration out on the perimeter, struggling to stay in front of quicker and more physical guards at times. Playing with good intensity and working hard to get a hand up on shooters, Wilcox would benefit from continued work on his frame.
Wilcox doesn’t have an enormous arsenal of offensive moves, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue playing alongside Chris Paul. SLAM Magazine’s Rodger Bohn thinks Wilcox has more to his game than people give him credit for:
Capable of putting the ball on the deck and raising up (a la Brad Beal), Wilcox uses his great elevation to rise up and shoot over the top of the D. While he’s not going to be delivering any ankle-breaking crossovers, he has a much tighter handle than people give him credit and has no problems changing direction in crisp fashion.
The Clippers’ night ended with Wilcox as their second round pick was originally traded to New Orleans for Bobby Brown in January 2010, then sent to San Antonio that October for Curtis Jerrells.