The Los Angeles Clippers acquired point guard Shai Gilgeous Alexander in a trade with the Charlotte Hornets at the 12th spot for two future second round picks and selected shooting guard Jerome Robinson at 13 in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday, June 21.
“What we prioritize is drafting the best available talent. We don’t go by need, we go by the best that fit what Clipper characteristics are all about,” shared Clippers general manager Frank Lawrence.
Prior to the draft, it was rumored that the Clippers were attempting to find a trade for a higher pick. The team did just that, but it was surprisingly a trade that ended up being just one pick higher. Alexander, a 6-6 point guard out of Kentucky, was selected by Charlotte with the eleventh pick then involved with a trade including Miles Bridges that would send him to Los Angeles.
“It’s a great feeling, just being able to play in the NBA, being drafted to a team that you feel like you fit well and a place you really wanted to go to there’s no better feeling and that’s where I’m at right now,” Alexander said.
Lawrence spoke to Alexander’s professionalism, intensity and will to be great that attracted the front office.
“We thought [Shai] was the best point guard in the draft,” Lawrence commented. “You talk about a guy who has a huge chip on his shoulder, unbelievable work ethic and we want people who want to be a part of us, who want to grow with us.”
The Clippers front office thought both Alexander and Robinson were a sure fit for the franchise. Robinson, a 6-5 shooting guard who played three seasons at Boston College, shot 40.9 percent from deep on 5.7 attempts per game.
“Jerome is a guy that we targeted early on in this process, probably one of the more gifted all around offensive players in the country. He’s another guy if you study DNA, he was the leading scorer in the ACC.
At pick number 13, he was the highest drafted player out of Boston College in 37 years and the third guy in recent years to come from North Carolina with almost no offers, yet still make it to the NBA.
“It means the world to me,” Robinson remarked. “It’s been a crazy journey, something that I just kept working at even with the doubters, I’ve been pushing myself to always be great and I always believed in myself and never let it waiver.”
As uncertainty about the future of the Clippers’ franchise looms, the team is confident with the building blocks they acquired during this year’s draft along with their head coach, Doc Rivers. The Clippers signed Rivers to a contract extension back in May. Rivers is 846-624 in his career as a head coach including two trips to the NBA Finals and an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics (2008).
“He’s a players’ coach,” Alexander said fondly. He recounted, “After the workout with him and the dinner I felt really good, we were cracking jokes and I felt really comfortable really early, so that’s a really good sign. I can’t wait to be coached by him. He’s done good with point guards in the past from Rondo into an All-Star, Chris Paul is an All-Star. He knows what it takes.”
It was clear that the Clippers organization would go through a transition period when the team traded their former star Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley.
As free agency opens on July 1, the Clippers will shift their attention to DeAndre Jordan’s decision on whether he remains with the franchise or moves to a new team. Jordan has played all 10 seasons with the Clippers. Last season, he averaged 12 points and a career-high 15.2 rebounds.