They were given two of the final three lottery picks at the NBA’s drawing Tuesday, but the Clippers have no issues with the 12th and 13th selections.
They have seen players selected late in the lottery positions turn into stars in the league, and that is the hope the Clippers will cling to during the NBA draft on June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Jerry West, the Lakers legend who’s now a Clippers consultant, smiled when asked about how the team can improve with these two picks.
He had been the team’s representative on stage during the lottery and recalled how Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall by Charlotte in 1996 and became one of the NBA’s all-time greats after he was traded by the Hornets to the Lakers on draft night — a deal he engineered as the Lakers’ general manager at the time.
West also pointed out how the Utah Jazz struck gold last year with the 13th pick.
“One of the great rookies I’ve seen come into this league in a long time was drafted [13th] last year, Donovan Mitchell,” West said. “He’s a star. Hopefully we can come up with those kind of players.”
Phoenix wound up with the top pick, Sacramento was second, followed by Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, Orlando, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte, the Clippers’ two selections and Denver.
The Clippers got the 12th pick from Detroit in the Blake Griffin trade. The Pistons would have kept the pick had it been in the top four.
It was the Clippers’ first time in the lottery since 2010, when they selected Al-Farouq Aminu eighth overall. The Clippers have been in the lottery 22 times.
“Well, we’re glad to have two lottery picks in the first round,” Clippers owner Stave Ballmer said. “We would have liked to hit our 2% for a top-three pick, but we’re going to make a great set of picks. We’re going to improve our team. Things will be awesome. There’s a lot of great guys. I’m very excited about where we are.”
Now the Clippers have to have some moxie and luck when deciding which players to take.
They have already worked out some players at their practice facility in Playa Vista and will get a closer look at a number of prospects this week in Chicago at the NBA combine.
“We have to do a good job of selecting the picks,” West said. “It’s always nice to be in a position where you think you can better your team and improve your team from what might be on your squad right now.
“But we’ll probably get some very young kids. We’re going to have to develop them. We’re going to have to have our coaches baby-sit them and help them grow up and be professional players. I think we’re going to get two really good prospects.”
Many NBA scouts and draft boards have the Clippers looking at 6-foot-6 Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Texas A&M center Robert Williams (6-9) and Kentucky forward Kevin Knox (6-9).
The Clippers are known to have interest in 6-7 Michigan State forward Miles Bridges, but he’ll likely be gone by the time they draft.
“To me, this is the fun part of it,” West said.
“Maybe we don’t even keep the draft picks. You never know. There will be a lot of teams calling wanting to know if you want to make a trade.”
2018 NBA DRAFT FIRST-ROUND ORDER
1. Phoenix Suns
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Orlando Magic
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn Nets)
9. New York Knicks
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers)
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. CLIPPERS (via Pistons)
14. Denver Nuggets
15. Washington Wizards
16. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat)
17. Milwaukee Bucks
18 San Antonio Spurs
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Oklahoma City Thunder)
21. Utah Jazz
22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans Pelicans)
23. Indiana Pacers
24. Portland Trail Blazers
25. LAKERS (via Cleveland Cavaliers)
26. Philadelphia 76ers
27; Boston Celtics
28. Golden State Warriors
29 Brooklyn Nets (via Toronto Raptors)