The second round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs is officially underway, with organizations being a step closer to the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Clippers, that is not the case anymore. They were recently eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round, meaning their season is over. Now, likely with eyes to the future, the 2023 NBA Draft is the next big thing for them.
The Clippers finished 44-38 in the regular season and secured the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. This represented a two-win improvement from 2021-22, which was enough to help the organization return to the playoffs.
In the first round, Los Angeles squared off against Phoenix with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. Despite winning the first game on the road, the Clippers would end up losing the next four.
It is worth noting that Paul George missed the entire postseason run while Kawhi Leonard only appeared in the first two games of the series due to injuries.
With hopes of winning a championship with this core, the front office will have a lot of work to do.
With cap holds, the team is projected to be nearly $100 million over the salary cap. Because of that, the rookies from the 2023 class might need to contribute right away.
With all that in mind, here are three early targets for the Los Angeles Clippers with the No. 30 pick (from the Milwaukee Bucks) of the 2023 NBA Draft.
Early Clippers NBA Draft Targets With No. 30 Pick From Bucks
3. Dereck Lively II, C – Duke
One of Los Angeles’ main additions from the 2022-23 season was Mason Plumlee. The big man emerged as a potential trade asset after the Charlotte Hornets were struggling, despite the career year he was enjoying.
The Clippers took advantage and dealt for the Hornets big man at the trade deadline.
In the playoffs, Plumlee’s role increased, as he even played in crunch time ahead of Ivica Zubac. Plumlee averaged 8.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists while hitting 87.5% of his field goals and shooting 92.9% from the free-throw line.
As of now, the Clippers only have Zubac as a true center under contract for 2023-24.
Since Plumlee might be after a larger contract, Los Angeles could opt to draft a center in the first round. One player who emerges as a possibility is five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American Dereck Lively II out of Duke.
Lively averaged 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists as a freshman. He shot 65.8% from the field and 60% from the free-throw line. Most importantly, he blocked 2.4 shots a night.
The 7-foot-1 center earned ACC All-Defensive team and ACC All-Freshman team honors.
Lively could be a valuable backup to Zubac and, even if Plumlee returns, the Blue Devil could spend some time in the G League and grow on the offensive end.
2. Noah Clowney, PF – Alabama
While Brandon Miller is receiving most of the draft buzz in Alabama, Noah Clowney is another player who could go in the first round.
The power forward put up 9.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and just under an assist a night. He also blocked 0.9 shots per game. He made 48.6% of his field goals, 28.3% of his 3-pointers and 64.9% of his free throws.
With his help, the Crimson Tide had a 29-5 record and won the SEC tournament.
In the conference championship game, Clowney had 19 points while going 7-for-11 from the field and hitting three 3-pointers. Both marks were some of the best of his freshman season.
Clowney will be just 19 years old by the time the 2023-24 season kicks off. This means he might still need some time to develop before becoming a key rotational piece for the Clippers.
Still, at the No. 30 spot, Los Angeles could go with a project player. If that is the case, Clowney is a name to keep an eye on.
1. Colby Jones, G – Xavier
Perhaps one of the biggest needs for the Clippers beyond this season is at guard. Russell Westbrook joined the squad after a buyout with the Utah Jazz and played an important role in the postseason with 23.6 points in the first round.
Because of that, Colby Jones out of Xavier could be an option with the No. 30 pick.
Jones recorded 15 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists as a junior. He also registered 1.3 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. He hit 50.9% of his field-goal attempts, 37.8% of his 3-point shots and 65.3% of his free throws.
In his third year in college, Jones earned a Second-Team All-Big East nod. With him, the Musketeers made it all the way to the Big East Championship Game, where they would eventually lose to Marquette.
Jones can play both guard positions, which could come in handy for the Clippers since they have a bad history with injuries in the postseason.
As he spent three years in college, the Xavier product could be a more prepared prospect for Los Angeles to consider with the No. 30 overall pick in the first round.
Should the Clippers want an immediate contributor who could crack the rotation as a rookie, Jones is a solid player to target.
The post 3 early 2023 NBA Draft Clippers targets with No. 30 pick from Bucks appeared first on ClutchPoints.