Clippers build depth by selecting Kobe Brown, Jordan Miller in NBA draft

Missouri guard Kobe Brown watches free-throw attempts.
The Clippers selected Missouri forward Kobe Brown 30th overall in Thursday’s NBA draft.
(José Luis Villegas / Associated Press)
Share via

The Clippers raised smoke with pre-draft trade rumors but didn’t spark any fires as Thursday’s NBA draft went as planned.

With newly promoted general manager Trent Redden working with president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, the Clippers selected Missouri forward Kobe Brown 30th overall and forward Jordan Miller out of Miami with the 48th selection.

The picks bolster a youth movement for the Clippers, but will take a backseat during the franchise’s plan to win immediately behind stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who both finished the season on the bench because of injuries.


George, the eight-time All-Star who averaged 23.8 points per game last season but suffered a knee injury in March, was the topic of trade conversations between the Clippers and Knicks this week. On Wednesday, the Clippers nearly traded their first-round pick in a potential deal involving the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, but talks broke down.

The potential three-team trade would have brought Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Clippers and sent guard Amir Coffey and forward Marcus Morris Sr. to the Wizards. A day after trying to trade the 33-year-old forward, the Clippers instead added to their youth movement with Brown.

The 2023 NBA draft is underway at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The San Antonio Spurs selected Victor Wembanyama with No. 1 overall pick.

June 22, 2023

The 6-foot-8 forward named after the Lakers star was just the second player in Missouri history to be voted first-team All-Southeastern Conference by both conference coaches and media, averaging 15.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a senior.

While Brown, 23, led the Tigers in scoring and rebounding for two consecutive seasons, his three-point shooting jumped from 20.6% as a junior to 45.5% during his senior year when he attempted 112 total threes compared to just 68 during the previous year.

The Huntsville, Ala., native was also named the SEC scholar-athlete of the year and helped the Tigers to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Miami guard Jordan Miller practices.
The Clippers selected Miami forward Jordan Miller with the 48th selection of Thursday’s NBA draft.
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

Miller, a 6-7 forward who was born in Anaheim, helped Miami to the Final Four last season, earning second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors while averaging 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists. The 23-year-old played three seasons at George Mason, including one that did not count against his eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, before playing two seasons with Miami, where he played for Clippers assistant Jay Larranaga’s father, Jim.

Behind their experienced main rotation, led by Kawhi Leonard, 31, and George, the Clippers are building with young depth. Brown and Miller join point guard Jason Preston, guard Bones Hyland, wing Brandon Boston and center Moussa Diabate, who are all 23 or younger.

“Having good young players is always critical to team building,” Frank said, emphasizing the new collective bargaining agreement that will come into effect on July 1. “It’s going to be very, very important to get good players on good contracts. We build our team around our two stars, but you have to have complementary skill sets.”

The New York Knicks approached the Clippers about a trade for All-Star forward Paul George, while the Portland Trail Blazers also expressed interest.

June 22, 2023

Even with youth on the bench, the Clippers are still waiting for the health of their two stars. George has played an average of 47 regular-season games in his last three seasons with the Clippers and missed the playoffs this season. After missing the 2021-22 season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, Leonard suffered torn meniscus in the same knee that knocked him out of the playoffs.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP underwent a “clean-up procedure” early this month, Frank said, and is feeling “great.” The recovery time is eight weeks and Leonard is expected to be fully healthy for training camp.