Clippers Lakers Score Big in Draft

The NBA draft is rarely going to produce instant stars. The goal is to acquire cheap labor that will fill out the roster, with the hope that the players can develop into stars or solid role players.

Most NBA teams use the draft to build the roster into a playoff team and will try to add a superstar through free agency to become a championship team. The Clippers are that example.

The Lakers are the opposite, acquiring superstars to win now and filling the roster out with role players and journeymen.

The Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2019 NBA draft without a draft pick, having used their #4 pick in the blockbuster acquisition of Anthony Davis.

The Los Angeles Clippers came into the draft with two 2nd round picks, having traded their 2019 first round pick to the Boston Celtics. The Lakers and Clippers both made draft day trades to help their organizations. Both did it in their usual fashion.

The Lakers bought their way into the 2019 NBA draft by acquiring a 2nd round pick from Orlando, the #46 pick overall. The price the Lakers paid to acquire this pick was $2.2 million and a 2nd round pick in 2020.

They used the pick to acquire Talen-Horton Tucker, a 6'4" wing out of Iowa State. Tucker has a 7'1" wingspan and impressive leaping ability but is also only 18 years old and played just one season at Iowa State.

Tucker needs time to develop. He had a field goal percentage of 40% and a free throw percentage of 62% at Iowa State. That needs to improve for him to get playing time on the Lakers. The acquisition of Tucker does help fill out the roster.

The Lakers came into the draft with six players under contract. With Tucker, they now have seven. They will need to acquire eight additional players through free agency.

The Clippers came into the draft with the 48th and 56th pick in the 2nd round. They traded the 56th pick and a future #1 pick acquired from Philadelphia in the Tobias Harris trade to the Brooklyn Nets, for a first-round pick from the Nets (#27 overall) in the 2019 draft. The Nets were looking for to free up salary cap space and did not want the pick this season.

The Clippers bounced on this opportunity and acquired the size that they needed in the middle of their defense. With the #27 pick, the Clippers drafted Mfiondu Kabengele out of Florida State. Kabengele is a 21-year old, 6-foot-10 power forward/center who played two years at Florida State University. He averaged 13.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 21.6 minutes per game last season.

Kabengele also showed good range from the outside for a big man, hitting 36.9 percent from beyond the arc (34-of-91). In the 2nd round, the Lakers used the #48 pick to draft another Florida State star, Terrence Mann, a 22-year-old senior. Mann is a 6'6" shooting guard. Mann was just the third player in Florida State history to amass 1,200 points, 600 rebounds, 200 assists and 100 steals.

Kabengele and Mann are older and have the playing experience that will allow them to contribute sooner. Tucker may have a higher ceiling than the two Clipper picks, but he also has a lower floor. This draft illustrates the difference between today's Lakers and today's Clippers.

The Lakers are a win-now team. Besides the trade of their 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft, the Lakers have traded away both of their 2021 draft picks. The Clippers have additional future draft picks, with an unprotected first round pick from Miami in 2021 and 2nd round picks in both the 2021 and 2023 drafts.

Now it is on to free agency.

The Clippers are the favorite to sign superstar Kawhi Leonard, the former Riverside King high school star. If the 27-year-old Leonard comes home to Southern California, the Clippers, with a roster full of young talent, will be a force to be reckoned with for many years in the NBA. The Clippers have already set-up a meeting with Leonard for July 2nd.

The Lakers seemed to be focused on adding a third star to their lineup of LeBron James and Davis. That probably will not happen given their current salary cap space of $23 million. They will probably fill out the roster with a couple of good role players and some bargain basement free agents. They are all in on winning now without a clear vision for the future.


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