2023 NBA draft recap: Lakers select Hood-Schifino; Heat take Jaquez

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Jalen Hood-Schifino arrives before the 2023 NBA draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday.
Jalen Hood-Schifino arrives before the 2023 NBA draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday. The Lakers selected Hood-Schifino with the No. 17 pick.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

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

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

The Clippers selected former Missouri forward Kobe Brown 30th overall in Thursday’s NBA draft.
(José Luis Villegas / Associated Press)

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 former Missouri forward Kobe Brown 30th overall and forward Jordan Miller out of Miami with the 48th selection.

On Wednesday, the Clippers nearly traded the first-round pick in a potential deal involving the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, but talks broke down. The Clippers and New York Knicks also talked about moving star forward Paul George after the eight-time All-Star’s fourth season with the team ended with a knee injury that kept him out of the playoffs.

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.


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Lakers bring youth by selecting Jalen Hood-Schifino, Maxwell Lewis in NBA draft

Jalen Hood-Schifino is all smiles as he walks off the stage after being selected 16th overall by the Lakers.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

NEW YORK — The second Jalen Hood-Schifino made up his mind he’d be entering the NBA draft after his freshman season at Indiana, he knew he was going to wear a green suit.

“Favorite color,” he said with a slight shrug as he moved behind the scenes at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

It clashed just a little with his golden Lakers hat, the first memento from his new employer. The franchise selected the 6-foot-6 point guard with the 17th overall pick in Thursday’s draft, their highest pick since the Lakers took Lonzo Ball No. 2 overall in 2017.

Regardless of the Celtics green, his joy to be the newest member of the Lakers couldn’t be questioned. On his arm, he has a tattoo of Kobe Bryant.

“It’s honestly really crazy and kind of hard to say how I feel because growing up I was a big Kobe fan. I was always watching his videos, watching the Lakers,” he said. “For me to get drafted by the Lakers is kind of surreal and kind of crazy.”

What followed was a whirlwind.


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UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. drafted No. 18 by Miami Heat in ‘surreal’ moment

Jaime Jaquez Jr. celebrates with family and friends after being selected 18th overall by the Miami Heat.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

After breaking into an amused smile at hearing his name called, indulging a round of family hugs and fitting the hat of his new NBA team snugly onto his head, Jaime Jaquez Jr. took that same hat off and stared at it like he couldn’t believe it was real.

Barely a top-100 prospect out of Camarillo High, he had stayed at UCLA for what felt like a basketball lifetime, rising from bit player to Pac-12 player of the year over the last four years.

The payoff for that perseverance came Thursday night inside the Barclays Center. Jaquez was not just an NBA player but nearly a lottery pick, the Miami Heat having selected him No. 18 overall in the draft.

“Surreal,” Jaquez said on the ESPN broadcast. “Words can’t describe it right now.”

It was another triumph for a player who had been considered a fringe first-round pick after completing his college career as the No. 8 scorer in UCLA history. His stock soared in workouts with NBA teams who valued his savvy, relentlessness and consistency, not to mention his ability to score in a variety of ways and make winning plays.

Jaquez had initially expected to watch the draft in Southern California before earning a coveted invite to the green room inside the Barclays Center reserved for players widely expected to go in the first round. He wore a beige custom suit that he had picked after a haberdasher had presented a selection of fabrics and colors back home.


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Lakers select Jalen Hood-Schifino; Heat take Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Victor Wembanyama poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected first overall by the Spurs.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

The San Antonio Spurs have made the first selection of the 2023 NBA draft. No surprise here.

The Lakers selected Indiana guard Jalen Hood-Schifino with the 17th pick.

Hood-Schifino averaged 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the Indiana Hoosiers in his lone college season.

A 6-foot-6 point guard, he’s the highest Lakers draft pick since the team took Lonzo Ball second in 2017.

The Lakers discussed moving back in the draft throughout the process, with the possibility of adding a veteran player as one of the options the front office discussed. Ultimately, though, the team landed on Hood-Schifino with the intention of keeping the pick.

The Miami Heat then selected former UCLA star Jaime Jaquez Jr. at No. 18.

A look at the picks and trades:

Pk. Team: Player, Age, Size, Pos., Team/Country

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, 19, 7-4, C, France

A generational talent — he’s compared to a taller version of Kevin Durant — this French pro player changes the game on both ends of the court, from three-point shooting to shot-blocking and rebounding.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller, 20, 6-9, SF, Alabama

An explosive player who has shown the ability to score inside and out (38.4% from deep last season) while having the upside to become a solid defender at multiple positions.

3. Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson, 19, 6-2, PG, G League Ignite

This floor leader is a score-first player with elite athleticism, strength and shot-making ability, particularly off the drive. Can score at the rim and from midrange. Shot only 27.5% from deep last season.

4. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson, 20, 6-7, PG, Overtime Elite

A highly skilled and rangy pass-first floor leader, there is no questioning his athleticism and feel for the game. His shot-making ability against top-level defenders is a question.

5. Detroit Pistons: Ausar Thompson, 20, 6-7, SG, Overtime Elite

Considered a better scorer than his twin brother, he is a strong finisher at the rim with good leaping ability. Also an above-average passer who needs to prove he can shoot from deep.

6. Orlando Magic: Anthony Black, 19, 6-7, PG, Arkansas

This floor leader has high basketball IQ with excellent passing ability but lacks pure shooting touch. A good all-around athlete with size who has room for improvement with plenty of upside.

7. Indiana Pacers: Bilal Coulibaly, 18, 6-6, SF, France

This long-and-lean wing is a Wembanyama teammate who has big upside with plenty of athleticism and ability to slash and score. A 7-3 wingspan makes him a solid defender.

8. Washington Wizards: Jarace Walker, 19, 6-8, F, Houston

This combo forward is a powerful presence on both ends of the court with agility and a wingspan that makes him a solid defender at multiple positions. Made 34.7% of threes last season.

(The Pacers and Wizards swap draft rights of Nos. 7 and 8 picks.)

9. Utah Jazz: Taylor Hendricks, 19, 6-9, PF, Central Florida

A rangy, strong big man who can defend multiple positions. He shot 39.4% from deep last season. Not exactly a 3-and-D guy but a frontcourt player with plenty of upside.

10. Dallas Mavericks: Cason Wallace, 19, 6-4, PG, Kentucky

Considered the best perimeter defender in the draft, he has enough size and physicality to be a combo guard. Though lacking elite athleticism and volume scoring, he shoots well enough from deep (34.6%). (Wallace’s draft rights have been traded to Oklahoma City.)

11. Orlando Magic: Jett Howard, 19, 6-8, SG, Michigan

The son of Juwan Howard, former NBA player and Wolverines coach, is one of the top shooters in the class (36.8% 3FGs, 80% FTs) with room for improvement as a defender.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Dereck Lively II, 19, 7-1, C, Duke

When it comes to potential, this agile big man has plenty since he’s already a natural shot-blocker and rim-protector. Needs some bulk on his frame and power to offensive game. (Lively’s draft rights have been traded to Dallas.)

13. Toronto Raptors: Gradey Dick, 19, 6-8, SG, Kansas

One of this draft’s best shooters (40.3% 3FGs and 85.4% FTs last season), what he lacks in elite athleticism he makes up with hard work and high IQ.

14. New Orleans Pelicans: Jordan Hawkins, 21, 6-5, SG, UConn

One of the draft’s better shooters (38.8% 3FGs, 88.7% FTs), particularly in catch-and-shoot situations. Has improved offense off the dribble and is a solid defender.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Kobe Bufkin, 19, 6-5, PG, Michigan

A floor leader with good IQ and athletic ability who showed a marked improvement as a sophomore last season with a knack to create and score at all levels. A solid defender, too.

16. Utah Jazz: Keyonte George, 19, 6-4, SG, Baylor

Though not an elite athlete, he has the frame and game to compete. A streaky shooter (33.8% from deep last season) who can score and create shots. Also a solid defender.

17. LAKERS: Jalen Hood-Schifino, 20, 6-6, PG, Indiana

Another physical, strong on-the-ball player who can create for teammates and is a solid defender. A streaky shooter who must improve his offense, particularly from deep (33.3% on threes last season).

18. Miami Heat: Jaime Jaquez Jr., 22, 6-7, SF, UCLA

A hard-working forward with a variety of skills to utilize on both ends of the court, he’s a potential 3-and-D wing who can score inside and out plus has a high basketball IQ.

19. Golden State Warriors: Brandin Podziemski, 20, 6-5, SG, Santa Clara

A sharpshooting lefty who averaged 19.9 points and 48.3% on threes for the Broncos after transferring from Illinois. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for with IQ and shooting touch.

20. Houston Rockets: Cam Whitmore, 18, 6-7, SF, Villanova

He’s an elite-level athlete with the ability to score off the dribble, from midrange, in the paint and at the rim. He shot 34.3% from deep last season. Solid defender, too.

21. Brooklyn Nets: Noah Clowney, 18, 6-10, PF, Alabama

A mobile and agile big man with tons of potential, especially if he adds bulk and strength. Although a secondary scoring option in college, he shows offensive potential.

22. Brooklyn Nets: Dariq Whitehead, 18, 6-7, SG-SF, Duke

This premier shooter (42.9% 3FGs, 73.9% FTs), who missed part of last season because of a foot injury, has 3-and-D potential with a solid all-around game, including as a defender.

23. Portland Trail Blazers; Kris Murray, 22, 6-8, PF, Iowa

Brother of Kings starter Keegan Murray, Kris is a combo forward with plenty of upside as a 3-and-D wing, although he’s a streaky shooter. Can defend multiple positions.

24. Sacramento Kings: Olivier-Maxence Prosper, 20, 6-8, PF, Marquette

With an NBA-ready body, he has plenty of athleticism and potential. Though he’s got a solid all-around game that includes defending and rebounding, his offensive skills are limited. (Prosper’s draft rights have been traded to Dallas.)

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Marcus Sasser, 22, 6-2, PG-SG, Houston

A score-first combo guard and solid defender who shot 41% inside the arc, 36.9% beyond it and 82.4% on free throws for his career. He averaged 17 points as a junior and senior.

26. Indiana Pacers: Ben Sheppard, 21, 6-6, SG, Belmont

The three-year starter continually improved in college as a shooter and playmaker (18.8 ppg, 41.5% 3 FGs last season). Has 3-and-D potential as a solid perimeter defender.

27. Charlotte Hornets: Nick Smith Jr., 19, 6-5, PG-SG, Arkansas

A combo guard who was slowed because of a knee injury, he has a well-rounded offensive game but could use more bulk and improved defense. Plenty of upside, though.

28. Utah Jazz: Brice Sensabaugh, 19, 6-6, SF, Ohio State

What he lacks in athleticism and agility is made up for with his powerful build and ability to score in a variety of ways, including deep (40.5% 3FGs last season). Needs to improve on defense.

29. Indiana Pacers: Julian Strawther, 21, 6-7, SF, Gonzaga

Though he might lack elite athleticism, he’s a proven 3-and-D wing who can score from distance and in the paint (15.2 ppg, 40.8% 3FGs last season) and rebound (6.2).

30. CLIPPERS: Kobe Brown, 23, 6-8, SF, Missouri

A strong all-around player on both ends of the court lacking elite athleticism who is coming off a productive senior season (15.8 ppg, 45.5% 3FGs, 79.2% FTs).


31. Detroit: James Nnaji, 18, 6-11, C, FC Barcelona

This Nigerian teenager is an athletic, powerful big man with a post game and a ton of upside. Though his all-around game is unrefined, he’s a strong defender and rebounder.

32. Denver: Jalen Pickett, 23, 6-2, PG-SG, Penn State

One of the oldest prospects, he’s a solid floor leader who had a productive five-year college career, starting at Siena. Can score at all levels and defends well.

33. San Antonio: Leonard Miller, 19, 6-10, SF, G League Ignite

After withdrawing from the draft last year, this big man blossomed in the G League as a rebounder and defender while averaging 18 points on 55% shooting.

34. Charlotte: Colby Jones, 21, 6-6, SG, Xavier

A potential combo guard because of his versatility, particularly with his length and defense. Has upside with ability to score from deep (37.8% 3FGs last season) and off dribble.

35. Boston: Julian Phillips, 19, 6-8, SF, Tennessee

A rangy wing with plenty of athleticism and potential, although he took a back seat on a veteran Vols team. Shot only 24% from deep but made 82.2% of his free throws, averaging 8.3 points. (Draft rights traded to Washington.)

36. Orlando: Andre Jackson Jr., 21, 6-6, SG-SF, Connecticut

An explosive leaper, a versatile playmaker in the open court and solid defender who lacks polish to his shooting after three seasons with the Huskies: 43.2% from the field, 28.1% from deep last season.

37. Oklahoma City: Hunter Tyson, 23, 6-8, SF, Clemson

A solid athlete, good rebounder and skilled shooter, particularly from deep, he had a standout fifth year: 15.3 ppg, 40.5% 3FGs, 83.8% FTs. Usual questions: defense, strength, upside.

38. Sacramento: Jordan Walsh, 19, 6-7, SF, Arkansas

A long, athletic wing with plenty of two-way potential, particularly on the defensive side, where he can guard multiple positions. Shot only 27.8% from deep last season. (Draft rights traded to Boston.)

39. Charlotte: Mouhamed Gueye, 20, 6-11, PF, Washington State

An agile and athletic big man who moved from Senegal to Prolific Prep as a teen, he has a solid all-around game on both ends of the court. Needs to improve low-post game and strength.

40. LAKERS: Maxwell Lewis, 20, 6-7, SF, Pepperdine

A lanky and athletic wing with shooting touch and slashing capability who had a breakout sophomore season (17.1 ppg, 34.8% 3FG). Potential 3-and-D player if he improves the latter.

41. Charlotte: Amari Bailey, 19, 6-5, SG, UCLA

A solid all-around player and potential combo guard who can score in a variety of ways, particularly in the open court. He shot 38.9% from deep last season.

42. Washington: Tristan Vukcevic, 20, 6-11, PF-C, KK Partizan

This Serbian has plenty of offensive upside, inside and as a stretch big, who will need to improve his defense and rebounding.

43. Portland: Rayan Rupert, 19, 6-6, SG-SF, New Zealand Breakers

An athletic, lanky wing from France who figures to be a 3-and-D player if he improves his shooting. Solid all-around game includes playmaking ability.

44. San Antonio: Sidy Cissoko, 19, 6-8, SF, G League Ignite

Another French prospect, has the size, strength and athleticism to develop into a combo forward. Already capable of defending multiple positions, just needs to refine offensive game.

45. Memphis: Gregory Jackson II, 18, 6-9, PF, South Carolina

Likely a combo forward in the NBA, he has all the tools on offense: creativity off the dribble, finishing in the paint and a midrange game, yet shot only 38.4% from the field, 32.4% on threes.

46. Atlanta: Seth Lundy, 23, 6-6, SG, Penn State

A sturdy, sharpshooting wing (36.8% 3FGs, 81.4% FTs in career) with two-way potential who improved each of his four college seasons. Not an elite athlete, but has a high IQ.

47. Indiana: Mojave King, 21, 6-3, G, G League Ignite

A solid all-around guard who plays with energy, could be a combo guard in the NBA. Plenty of potential in this New Zealander.

48. CLIPPERS: Jordan Miller, 23, 6-7, SG, Miami

A five-year college player (three at George Mason), he’s an athletic wing with a well-rounded game who has 3-and-D potential (35.2% 3 FGs, 78.4% FTs last season).

49. Cleveland: Emoni Bates, 19, 6-9, SF, Eastern Michigan

A skilled, playmaking wing who showed he can score in a variety of ways at Memphis and Eastern Michigan in two seasons. Lacks length and elite athleticism but plays hard.

50. Oklahoma City: Keyontae Johnson, 23, 6-4, SF, Kansas State

A potential 3-and-D wing who might lack height but is well built and plays very physically. Career 38.9% shooter from deep.

51. Brooklyn: Jalen Wilson, 22, 6-8, SF, Kansas

A potential 3-and-D wing with plenty of skills on both ends of the court. Streaky shooter who can score at all three levels: 20.1 ppg, 33.7% 3FGs and 79.9% FTs last season.

52. Phoenix: Toumani Camara, 23, 6-8, SF, Dayton

A left-hander from Belgium who played two seasons at Georgia before a transfer, he’s a skilled athlete with a solid offensive and defensive game. Shot a career-high 36.3% from deep last season. (Draft rights traded to Washington.)

53. Minnesota: Jaylen Clark, 21, 6-5, SG, UCLA

A strong, athletic, two-way wing coming off an Achilles injury who has plenty of potential after an outstanding junior season (13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 32.9% 3FGs).

54. Sacramento: Jalen Slawson, 23, 6-7, F, Furman

A physical, fifth-year senior with a solid all-around game and high basketball IQ. Has a chance to become a 3-and-D wing.

55. Indiana: Isaiah Wong, 22, 6-4, PG-SG, Miami
An undersized combo guard lacking elite athleticism, he can score at all three levels (38.4% 3FGs as a senior) and make plays off the drive. Defending at next level is a concern.

56. Memphis: Tarik Biberovic, 6-8, SF, Bosnia-Herzevogina

A well-built combo forward who has played professionally in Turkey the last few years. Has good shooting touch, shooting 34.8% from deep and 88.2% on free throws last season.

57. Washington: Trayce Jackson-Davis, 23, 6-9, PF, Indiana

A talented and productive offensive player from midrange to the basket (20.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg last season), he’s capable of defending multiple positions and is a strong rim protector.

58. Milwaukee: Chris Livingston, 19, 6-6, SF, Kentucky

An athletic wing with good size and strength but did not have an overly productive freshman season. Did shoot 72.2% from the free-throw line but only 30.5% from deep.

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Jaime Jaquez Jr. more than a first-round pick

Jaime Jaquez Jr., center, and his family, from left: brother Marcos, mother Angela, father Jaime Sr. and sister Gabriela.
(Dan Woike / Los Angeles Times)

Last week, former UCLA basketball star Jaime Jaquez Jr. was thought to be a late first-round to early second-round pick in tonight’s NBA draft. Earlier this week, he got the call to fly to New York so he could be on hand when he might be drafted in the top 20.

Times staff writer Dan Woike snapped the above photo of Jaquez, center, with his family, from left, brother Marcos, mother Angela, father Jaime Sr. and sister Gabriela.

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There’s talent to be had for the Lakers at No. 17 in the NBA draft

Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin drives against Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit during a Big Ten game.
Guard Kobe Bufkin, driving against Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit during a Big Ten game, is one of two Michigan players who could be available for the Lakers at No. 17 in the NBA draft on Thursday.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

When the NBA holds its annual draft on Thursday, the Lakers will perhaps take a peek into what the future has in store for them.

They hold the 17th pick in the draft, a selection they can use to add more young talent or as a trade chip to bring in a quality veteran to assist LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the win-now path this team is on. The Lakers also have a second-round pick at No. 47.

Teams like the Lakers that are drafting in the mid-teens seem to be looking for some version of the same player, according to NBA scouts not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

“I can see the Lakers and teams in the same spot as them looking for the best available player and for players with shooting range,” a Western Conference scout said. “You’re looking for length. You are looking for 3-and-D. That’s the going rate for everybody now, looking for somebody that can guard and somebody that can shoot.”

Here are some players to keep an eye on for the Lakers:


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Victor Wembanyama, at 7-foot-4, spurs visions of superstardom

Victor Wembanyama juggles before throwing the ceremonial first pitch at a Yankees game.
Victor Wembanyama, the projected first overall NBA draft pick, juggles baseballs before throwing the ceremonial first pitch at a Yankees game Tuesday.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

NEW YORK — Victor Wembanyama wants to see the city, but he’s the New York attraction no one seems able to miss. From being mobbed at the airport to the autograph hounds parked outside his Times Square luxury hotel, it’s difficult for the 7-foot-4 future of professional basketball to navigate through the Big Apple without being the center of attention.

Fortunately for the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs and Wembanyama, he’s more than comfortable with all these eyes focused on him.

“Ever since I knew about the draft, exactly how it worked, I wanted to be first,” the 19-year-old Frenchman said Wednesday.

Thursday, he will be the unquestioned top pick in a draft who has observers saying things such as “transformational” ... “evolutionary” ... and “unseen.” He’s expected to save the Spurs by continuing to combine outlandish size with skills typically reserved for players much smaller.


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The Lakers’ first-round pick? Trade it, sign Chris Paul, win now

Chris Paul watches a Suns-Nuggets playoff game after getting injured earlier in the series.
Veteran point guard Chris Paul, who was injured during Game 2 of the Western Conference finals last month, might be on the free-agent market if he’s waived by the Wizards, who acquired him in a trade with the Suns.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

With the 17th pick in the 2023 NBA draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select …

That’s right! The Lakers finally have a first-round draft pick they can actually keep!

It’s their first such pick in five years, since the hiccup that was Mo Wagner.

It’s their highest pick in six years, since the scream that was Lonzo Ball.

It’s the pick for the future, the pick for the rebuild, the pick that Lakers fans have been anticipating forever, a pick that would be the centerpiece of the Lakers offseason except for one little thing.

They should trade it.


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Paul George at the center of Clippers-Knicks trade talks

Paul George stands on the court during a game between the Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Paul George stands on the court during a game between the Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder in March.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

The Clippers and Knicks have had conversations about a potential trade for wing Paul George, according to people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, talks that were initiated by New York.

Though George was an All-Star forward as recently as February, multiple league insiders this week expressed doubts about what return value the team could get for him, if the Clippers are truly motivated to deal him, and believed a top draft pick in exchange for George was not within range. Those doubts, the sources said, centered on his history of injuries and contract status.

Read more >>>

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Clippers weighing roster options as they prepare for NBA draft

San Jose State guard Omari Moore, who played at Pasadena High, has worked out for the Clippers and Lakers.
(Michael Woods / Associated Press)

The Clippers are on the clock.

They have upcoming deadlines to decide whether to guarantee next season’s contracts for guard Eric Gordon, which becomes guaranteed June 28, and two of their picks from the 2021 draft in wing Brandon Boston Jr. (June 30) and guard Jason Preston (July 2).

They have holes at backup center and starting point guard and are interested in filling the latter by re-signing unrestricted free agent Russell Westbrook or making a play for Chris Paul, whether by trade with Washington or as a free agent if his contract is bought out by the Wizards.

In broader terms, with the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, and its onerous restrictions on top-spending teams like the Clippers, taking effect July 1, they have to thread the needle of positioning themselves for a championship run next season without compromising their ability to remain a compelling ticket with title aspirations once the team moves into its new Inglewood arena, Intuit Dome, in 16 months.

Most immediately, the Clippers have draft selections to make. They hold the 30th and 48th picks in the NBA draft Thursday.


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Mock draft: Hornets and Blazers have big decisions, here’s what might happen

Victor Wembanyama tries to block a layup by Scoot Henderson during an exhibition game.
Victor Wembanyama tries to block a layup by Scoot Henderson during an exhibition game between their French and G League teams last fall in Las Vegas. They could be the first two players selected in the NBA draft Thursday.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

They’re in the gym, at the games, studying film and speaking to league insiders. The writers who cover these NBA teams, the ones picking in the first round, know what teams need. They know who could be available. They know what types of players these executives like best.

Yet similar to everyone else talking about the draft, what you know and what actually happens can shift in a blink, one team going off script changing every pick that follows.

For this exercise, our second mock draft, we went to the experts around the NBA to see what they think will happen Thursday night.

We think the first pick is a safe bet. After that? Buckle up.

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, C, France

The Spurs’ research for this no-brainer pick ended the second they won the draft lottery in May. Pairing Wembanyama with coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio provides the ballyhooed Frenchman with a stable launching pad from which to lift off his NBA career.


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