The Los Angeles Clippers won the draft lottery sweepstakes on Tuesday and will get the first pick in the June 25th draft. Oklahoma's Blake Griffin is the standout player in a draft that is not particularly rich in talent this year. Memphis will pick second and the OKC Blunder third. Sacramento, which had the worst record in the league at 17-65, fell all the way to fourth followed by Washington at fifth.
The last time the Clippers had the first overall pick was in 1998 when they took Michael Olowokandi, considered by many to be one of the biggest busts in NBA history. He was taken ahead of stars like Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Mike Bibby, and Rashard Lewis. Olowokandi's career ended in 2007. A 2005 Sports Illustrated article ranked him third on a list of NBA draft busts. ESPN's Bill Simmons claimed someone once described Olowokandi as "the human Ebola virus". Ouch. He averaged less than 9 points a game for his career. Will the Clippers, a franchise known almost as much for their terrible front office as they are their endless losing seasons, do the right thing and take Griffin?
Why I think they do.
This will help wash the stink off the Elton Brand loss, give them a formidable inside presence and bring a fresh face of hope for this horribly moribund franchise. The positive press that Griffin will bring will likely result in an initial ticket sales surge based on the promise of a better tomorrow for the Clippers. Under Donald Sterling's ownership, the Clippers have toiled in the Lakers long shadow, because the Lakers are a franchise dedicated to winning and Sterling is not. This is another chance the Clippers have to wash off the stink from years of futility and right the ship. They may not get another chance.
Why I think they don't;
Because they are the Clippers and cannot help but make the wrong move. It is innate with this franchise, from Sterling on down. Memphis, a team for sale and picking at #2, will not try to move up. They'd rather save the money. The obvious suitor for the #1 spot are the Blunder. They'd be foolish, Donald Sterling foolish, not to go gang busters to acquire that top pick. They can afford to.
They can give the Clippers their third pick and another first rounder and even add next year's first round picks. The question is how far would OKC go? Would they be willing to part with Durant, Green or Westbrook? The Clippers would HAVE to demand one of them and a slew of OKC's first round picks and the Blunder may be desperate enough. They won't part with Durant, but they need to throw a Hail Mary to get Blake -it'll mean everything for that franchise. Local star stays local - that'll warm hearts and sell tickets in OKC. OKC would be quite formidable with him. Presti is smart enough to know that and Sterling is small-minded enough to look past a sure thing for a better deal.
I could not stomach the thought of Blake working for Bennett and how happy that would make him. It would be Bennett's dreams come true, and Bennett ruined many Sonic fans dreams when he moved the team. He deserves NO good karma. Blake being just out of their reach is beautiful poetic justice.
Griffin, Spanish guard Ricky Rubio and Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet are considered the top three picks with Blake being the concensus top pick. Both Rubio and Thabeet are considered projects.
The Clipper franchise needs some good press and a total makeover. This is a face saving move. If they do not pull the trigger, they will sink to even greater depths of futility and embarrassment. Drafting Blake makes sense all around for this team. Common sense says take Griffin, and I think they do.
Unfortunately, common sense does not always prevail in Clipperland.