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NBA draft featuring talented list of underclassmen

The deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft arrived at last Sunday, and there is a long list of candidates seeking their dream job.

They have until June 11 to withdraw their names from the draft, which will be held June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They can return to school provided they haven't signed with an agent.

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The talent pool is deep enough that the Clippers — who have their own lottery pick and could wind up with Detroit's from the Blake Griffin trade if it falls out of the top four — could fill two of their needs.

The Lakers have the 25th pick, which came to them from Cleveland (along with Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye) when they traded Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. this season. That player could be a strong candidate to make the roster.

The NBA draft lottery is May 15 in Chicago, where the combine takes place May 16-20. The NBA is expected to release the early entry list Monday morning.

The Clippers are projected to pick No. 13 in the lottery based on their 42-40 record, which was the second best among the 14 non-playoff teams.

Detroit's pick is projected to be No. 12 based on the Pistons' 39-43 record, which was the third best among lottery teams.

The Clippers probably will be in the market for a point guard and a wing player. But they also will look at big men since center DeAndre Jordan can opt out of his contract for next season.

The Clippers are keen on Michigan State's 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward Miles Bridges and Villanova's 6-7, 210-pound wing Mikal Bridges (the two are not related). But one or both of them could be gone by the time the Clippers select.

A lot of NBA draft boards have the Clippers taking Kentucky's 6-6 point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kentucky's 6-9 forward Kevin Knox.

Although lottery picks are not guaranteed successes, recent history has been good to teams drafting in the middle of the first round.

The Utah Jazz took guard Donovan Mitchell with the 13th overall pick in 2017. He turned into one of the top rookies in the NBA this season.

The Milwaukee Bucks took Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick in the 2013 draft. He has turned into one of the best players in the league.

The Lakers wound up with two solid first-round picks late in the 2017 draft in Kyle Kuzma (27th) and Josh Hart (30th).

Locally, UCLA underclassmen Aaron Holiday, Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes have declared for the draft. Former USC underclassmen De'Anthony Melton and Chimezie Metu also declared.

Most NBA draft boards have 11 of the lottery picks as one-and-done college freshmen. Another young player among that core is 19-year-old international sensation Luka Donic, a 6-6 guard from Slovenia who plays for Real Madrid.

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The draft has several big men, including a couple of 7-footers, who should go in the first 10 picks, among them Arizona center Deandre Ayton and Duke teammates Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr.

Teams looking for help up front early in the draft could select Texas center Mohamed Bamba or Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr. as well as either of the Bridges and Knox.

Along with Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma's Trae Young and Alabama's Collin Sexton are the point guards projected to go early. Top shooting guards are Texas Tech's Zhaire Smith and Doncic, who can also play the point.

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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