Dec 27, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies guard guard C.J. Wilcox (23) shoots a technical foul free throwagainst the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils during the second half at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Clippers Draft Grade: CJ Wilcox

The candidate

No. 28: CJ Wilcox, SF, University of Washington

 

The grade

C-

 

The alternatives

Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State

Jordan Clarkson, PG,

Missouri Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee

K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson

 

The skinny

Newly promoted president of basketball operations Doc Rivers entered the draft needing help in the frontcourt and behind Chris Paul, but only one pick at his disposal. The Clippers also had their eye on competition for Matt Barnes on the wing.

He opted, instead, to address the issue of finishing 22nd in 3-point percentage last season. Among the other prospects the Clippers were monitoring this summer was Mitch McGary, taken with the No. 21 pick by Oklahoma City.

So, Wilcox became the newest member of the Los Angeles Clippers. The 6’5″, four-year player earned two All Pac-12 honors at University of Washington. One of the oldest players in the draft, Wilcox gained notoriety as a long range sniper. This pick comes as a surprise a bit of a surprise given the team’s backlog of shooting guards. Rivers specifically targeted J.J. Redick last summer, though this could be a move in anticipation of Jamal Crawford (at age 35) hanging up the sneakers a year from now. Still, Los Angeles selected Reggie Bullock for the same purpose a year ago, so this feels a bit redundant.

Despite an impressive wingspan, questions persist over C.J. Wilcox’s defense. Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

That’s not to say Wilcox has no value. He finished last season hitting 39.1 percent from beyond the arc on an incredible 7.2 attempts per game, and never shot below 36 percent in four years in Seattle. He set the Huskies’ career record with 301 career 3-pointers made.

Wilcox has been simultaneously described as a defensive liability and possessing room to improve on that end if his frame can bulk up. That 6-9 ¾ wingspan allowed him to record one steal and one block per game despite being a step slow on most opponents.

The hope here is Wilcox can develop into a solid rotation sniper for Rivers, eventually taking some of Crawford’s minutes next to Paul. Given the team’s history injury, Wilcox could benefit immediately from minutes management to Redick and Crawford if he can get ahead of Bullock on the depth chart. Some expect him to step in right away.

I don’t see him adjusting to the pace well enough in Year One. But Wilcox was one of the first players to workout for the Clippers and Rivers had his eye on the sharpshooter for a while.

“It’s actually funny that was one of the worst workouts that I had,” Wilcox said via conference call shortly after being selected. “I walked out of there not too confident with how it went, but I talked to my agent afterwards and he said they had been watching me for a while and they still liked what I brought to the table.”

Rivers claimed to have used the “draft the best available player on our board over need’ strategy, though some would argue there were plenty of more talented players to be had in Cleanthony Early, K.J. McDaniels and Jarnell Stokes.

It would have been great if Rivers addressed one of the more pressing needs, specifically finding backups for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Though with McGary gone at No. 21 there were very few impactful bigs left.

 

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