Los Angeles Clippers: 2017 NBA Draft grades

The Los Angeles Clippers stepped into the 2017 NBA Draft on draft night. They acquired the 39th and 48th picks and selected Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell.

The Los Angeles Clippers started Thursday night without a 2017 NBA Draft pick. They ended the night with two quality second round picks who they acquired for cash considerations.

The Clippers bought into the second round at No. 48, purchasing South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell for $2.5 million. In addition to that deal, Los Angeles acquired the rights to Jawun Evans (the No. 39 pick), although that deal will not be official until after the moratorium per the LA Times’ Broderick Turner.

The two draft-day acquisitions of Evans and Thornwell were both successes for the Clippers. Evans has the scoring prowess and vision to be a top-tier backup point guard. Additionally, Thornwell is solid across the board and can be a rotation player right away.

Both Evans and Thornwell might see time for the G-League Clippers next season. However, both players have skill sets that will be useful to the Clippers right away. Evans and Thornwell might not be as flashy as some of the players taken at the top of this draft, but obtaining the rights to either one of them would’ve been great. Getting both was a draft night steal for the Clippers’ front office.

Jawun Evans: Instant offense

Jawun Evans led the most efficient offense in the country last season as the main man for Oklahoma State. After a good freshman season that earned him a spot on the 2016-17 Wooden Award pre-season team, Evans broke out in his sophomore season.

Despite averaging only 0.4 more minutes per game, Evans upped his scoring average from 12.9 points to 19.2 points per game. His playmaking on both ends of the floor also improved, as he jumped from 4.9 assists to 6.4 assists per game and 1.1 steals to 1.8 steals per game.

Evans can score from anywhere on the floor and has a stellar jump shot, converting on 40.7 percent of his three-point attempts during his college career. While he occasionally struggles to score at the rim, he has enough creativity off the dribble to work his way to his spots in the pick-and-roll:

Jawun Evans would probably have been a lottery pick if he were three inches taller. However, Evans does at least partially make up for his lack of height at 5’11” with a nearly 6’6″ wingspan.

Evans also landed in a nearly perfect situation in Los Angeles. The Clippers will probably have minutes available at backup point guard. Furthermore, Chris Paul is an ideal mentor for a similarly sized player with a similar tenacity and drive to run a top-notch offense — and Jawun will have to hope that he sticks around. Evans will come into the league with little pressure and plenty of chances to succeed.

Grade: B+

Sindarius Thornwell: Plug and Play

I already wrote about Sindarius Thornwell’s fit with the Los Angeles Clippers at some length before the draft. With that in mind, the Clippers got a steal with Thornwell at the 48th pick and did not even have to pay the maximum of $3.6 million to acquire his rights.

Thornwell was a spectacular offensive player during his last season in South Carolina. He led the team to a berth in the Final Four. Thornwell also served as both a playmaker and a shooter from the 2-spot.

However, Sindarius Thornwell will almost certainly not be a primary scorer in the NBA. Luckily for the Clippers, he does not need to put up points to be effective. He is a cagey and high-effort defender despite his limited athleticism. Thornwell will be able to effectively guard both wing positions and has the bulk to at least bother big men on switches.

With Jamal Crawford as a bench mainstay, Thornwell can slot onto the opponent’s best scoring threat on the wing. His upside at nearly age 23 is not as high as some players, but his skill-set makes it hard to believe that he will not be able to find a way to contribute to winning basketball.

Grade: A-

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