PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — Doc Rivers has only been on the job for a couple of days, but the Clippers’ new coach believes his first move was a good one.
The Clippers picked 6-foot-7 shooting guard Reggie Bullock, whom the team brought in for a pre-draft workout, in the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Bullock, who played three seasons at North Carolina, was the 25th overall pick, so finding his role on the Clippers won’t be easy. But he has the kind of skill set Rivers was hoping would be there.
“We targeted him,” said Rivers, who brought Bullock to Boston for a workout when Rivers was still the Celtics coach. “He was one of the guys we wanted. We felt like we needed more shooting. He does that.”
Bullock, 22, shot 48 percent last season as a junior and averaged 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds. He converted 88 3-pointers, the third highest total in a single season at North Carolina, and shot 43.6 percent from long distance.
Although he’s more of a catch-and-shoot player than a shot creator, the Clippers believe they can develop Bullock’s game over time. They also like the fact that he plays strong defense. Any minutes he earns, however, are likely to come as a reserve for a team that had one of the best benches in the league last season.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time, especially on a team like ours, to get in the rotation and put himself in that position,” vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks said. “But we feel like we got a guy that brings a skill set that you can never have a shortage of, and that’s shooting. Being able to do that will help him get on the floor quicker, but it’s hard to say.”
Rivers said he was able to watch Bullock play twice in person last season when North Carolina played Duke. He liked Bullock’s game, but became more impressed after speaking with him following a workout for the Celtics.
“I just liked the way he carried himself,” Rivers said. “I liked the workout and the fact he knows what he knows, he knows what he does and he never strays from that. You can tell that (coach) Roy Williams probably kept beating that into him — you’re a shooter, you’re a catch-and-shoot player. But he never put himself in a position that he could make a mistake, and that’s nice when you see players like that.
“When he was open, he shot it. There was no hesitation. When he wasn’t open, he passed it and didn’t try to do too much. I really liked that.”
Rivers, who also holds the title of senior VP of basketball operations, said he’ll be involved in trying to acquire free agents when that period begins next month. But he stressed that he liked the Clippers’ roster from last season and probably won’t want to change too much.
“One thing I want to say because I keep hearing all these rumors about us and trades, I like this team now,” he said. “I don’t know if we need to do anything. We want to add to the team. We don’t want to take away from the team.
“It’s a young team that needs growth. I don’t know if it’s a team that needs change.”