Clippers trade up, draft Gilgeous-Alexander, Robinson with lottery picks

Jerome Robinson became the first player in Boston College history to be selected in the lottery when the Clippers took him at 13
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in over 15 years, the Los Angeles Clippers have bolstered their roster with a duo of lottery picks.

The Clippers acquired the 11th overall pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (guard, Kentucky) after trading the 12th overall selection and two future second-round picks to the Charlotte Hornets, who initially drafted the former Wildcat. The 6-foot-6, 180-pound guard was named second team All-SEC after averaging 14.4 PPG and 4.1 RPG as a freshman last season.

“They don’t have an alpha dog point guard at the moment or someone that brings leadership to the group,” Gilgeous-Alexander said on a conference call about what makes him a solid fit in Los Angeles. “That’s what I am.”

“We targeted him really early in the process. We thought he was the best point guard in the draft,” president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said. “He’s one of the most improved players in the country. You don’t do that by waving a magic wand.”

The Canadian said he felt really good about playing for a “player’s coach” like Doc Rivers and specifically mentioned his ability to teach Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo during their All-Star years. Gilgeous-Alexander also noted he studies a lot of Paul’s film in pick-and-roll situations from when he was with the Clips.

With the 13th overall pick, the Clips selected Jerome Robinson (guard, Boston College). Robinson is the first player to ever be selected in the lottery out of Boston College. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound shooter averaged 17.7 PPG over three years in college and shot 40.9% from three as a junior last season.

“It means the world. My hard work got me here. I always put the work in and I knew it was something that would come up for me,” Robinson said of his journey from BC to LA. “Even with the doubters, I just kept pushing myself to be great.”

The doubters certainly didn’t come from his ACC opponents.

“When we were interviewing other guys from the conference and asked who’s the hardest guy to guard, it was always one guy. The ACC is not a bunch of chumps, right” Frank laughed. “It was always Jerome Robinson. He has that little chip on his shoulder and wants to prove to everyone, ‘yeah, I’m pretty good too.”

While his basketball journey has been an excellent ride, there is something Robinson is looking forward to about moving to Los Angeles even more than hitting the hardwood: “I’m excited, I can leave my coats in storage!”

The Clippers acquired the 13th pick from the Detroit Pistons as part of the mid-season trade that sent Blake Griffin to the Motor City.

The Clippers are hoping Gilgeous-Alexander or Robinson develops into the franchise’s sixth Rookie of the Year and both play pivotal parts in returning the team to the postseason after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010-11. Each of them called the other dynamic playmakers, citing each other’s ability to create space and free up his teammates to make big plays.

“Going into the Draft, one of the things that we prioritize is draft the best available talent. We don’t go by need. We go by best available talent that fit what our Clipper characteristics are all about,” Frank said. “The Clippers, we’re a challenging brand. We’re going to do it better, we’re going to prove it harder, but in order to be a hard playing, tough team, you need some hard playing, tough guys. Shai and Jerome both are that.”

LIVE: L.A. Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank discusses moving up in the lottery to get Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and draft Jerome Robinson #NBADraft

Posted by Fox Sports WEST on Thursday, June 21, 2018

Only three other players on the Clippers roster (Wesley Johnson, Danilo Gallinari and Austin Rivers) were drafted earlier than 12th overall.

This is the first time since 2002 the Clips had two lottery picks, first time since 2010 they drafted anyone in the lottery (Al-Farouq Aminu) and 22nd time since 1982 the team made a trade on draft day.