The Los Angeles Clippers did not enter the 2019 NBA Draft with a pick in the first round but exited with a first-round pick in Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele.
Although the team had future draft picks that they acquired from other trades, the Los Angeles Clippers did not have a single pick in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. Needing to fill out a roster that needed cheap players that could actually contribute, it became obvious that the Clippers needed a first-round pick.
And that is exactly what the Clippers left the draft with as the team traded up to the 27th overall pick from the Brooklyn Nets.
To move up, the Clippers traded the 56th overall pick in the draft while also sending the Philadelphia 76ers 2020 first-round pick that was obtained in the Tobias Harris deal. It might not seem like a smart move but that 76ers pick is likely going to be no higher than 25th overall next year.
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The Clippers needed to add talent now so it makes sense to trade away a pick in a draft that they already have their own selection to get a selection in this draft. The value of the two picks is virtually the same, the Clippers just needed to move up one year.
The team picked the right prospect with the selection as well in Mfiondu Kabengele. He might not be a household name but he has the tools and ability to eventually turn into one.
Kabengele might not be a seven-footer (6’10”) but he has ideal size to be in an NBA frontcourt. There are areas of Kabengele’s game that are very raw, but for the most part, he does exactly what a big man in 2019 needs to do in the NBA.
First and foremost, his size and wingspan made him an above-average rebounder in college and his athleticism even made him a serious threat in grabbing offensive rebounds. It won’t be quite as easy in the NBA, but he has the fundamental skill to be a solid rebounder.
Not only that but he has the wingspan and is athletic enough to be a marquee shot-blocker in the NBA. It might not come right away, but the Clippers are at least going to get a solid rebounder and shot-blocker, which is all you really need out of a late first-round pick when you anticipate a star to sign.
It does not stop there, though, as Kabengele even showed a nice shooting stroke in college. It might experience some hiccups with the farther three-point line but based on other big men in the league, Kabengele is only going to get better at shooting the three and is going to slide in perfectly as that rim-protecting stretch center.
He definitely won’t start his rookie year but adding Kabengele is very smart as the Los Angeles Clippers need to fill out the frontcourt. Ivica Zubac is a free agent and Montrezl Harrell is better suited as a four.
Adding a starting-caliber veteran center will not only give the Clippers a better outlook but will give someone for Kabengele to learn from. He is in the perfect position to contribute to a contending team and shape his craft at the same time.
For the Los Angeles Clippers, this was a lights out trade and selection. Kabengele might not be a household name yet, but I promise he will be for Clipper fans in the near future.