Missouri basketball players are NBA draft prospects

By Daniel Shapiro

The NBA playoffs are in full swing, but as more teams fall out of the playoffs, more NBA fans begin to look towards the 2014 NBA Draft. This year’s draft has been highly anticipated with a large number of players expected to become franchise players and all-stars.

The Missouri basketball team has two players that expect to be drafted — the dynamic backcourt of juniors Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson. Both bring different tools to the table; Brown brings quick, efficient shooting while the 6-foot-5 Clarkson is a good size for a point guard and has playmaking skills based around his ability to drive to the basket. After Missouri’s late season collapse, both went from projected first round picks to second rounders*, though both still expect to get drafted.

*Without the NBA lottery set and Clarkson and Brown’s status as likely second round picks, only each team’s second round picks will be listed.

Jabari Brown

Brown looks like a safer pick than Clarkson. Shooting, especially elite shooting as indicated by Brown’s .622 true shooting percentage, is one of the things that almost definitively translates to the NBA. Here are the teams likely to pick Brown in the second round.

Philadelphia 76ers (19-63) – 32nd, 39th, 47th, and 54th picks

The 76ers need shooting badly; they had the worst 3-pointer shooting percentage in the league and the third worst field goal percentage. The team has three shooting guards under contract next year; Tony Wroten, Elliot Williams (team option), and Jason Richardson (player option). Richardson doesn’t figure into the 76ers’ long term plans due to age and injury, leaving the 76ers with the abysmal shooting combo of Wroten and Williams. The duo each had awful field goal percentages with Wroten shooting .427 and Williams shooting .415, which hardly compliments Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams’ equally poor shooting. Adding a shooter of Brown’s caliber with one of their many second round picks may give the 76ers a perfect complimentary piece to Carter-Williams’ by having Brown space the floor for the young team.

Minnesota Timberwolves (40-42) – 40th, 53rd picks

The Timberwolves are another team in need of shooting, ranking fifth worst in the league in 3-point shooting and eighth worst in field goal percentage. Like the 76ers, they have three shooting guards under contract in Kevin Martin, Alexey Shved and Corey Brewer. Unlike the 76ers, all three of the Timberwolves’ guards are almost guaranteed playing time due to shooting (Martin), defense (Brewer), and potential (Shved). If Brown is drafted by the Timberwolves, it will mean the Timberwolves have traded one of their guards. Brown would benefit from the elite passing of Ricky Rubio and kick out passes from Kevin Love, which would likely lead to him being an efficient three-point specialist with Minnesota.

Chicago Bulls (48-34) – 49th pick

The Chicago Bulls are the lone winning team that could use Brown’s services after finishing last in the NBA in field goal percentage and eighth worst in 3-point percentage. With Tony Snell and Jimmy Butler as their only shooting guards under contract next year, they have room to add depth. Both Butler and Snell bring defense to the table, but struggled hitting 3-pointers this past season, shooting .283 and .320 respectively. Brown would get plenty of open looks from former MVP Derrick Rose’s driving ability and Joakim Noah’s passing. Brown could provide a team desperate for spacing the shooting threat it needs.

Utah Jazz (25-57) – 35th pick

The Utah Jazz finished in the bottom 10 in the NBA for both 3-point shooting and field goal percentage. The team has shooting guard Alec Burks under contract for next season and no other shooting guards, so there may be a possible fit for Brown if the Jazz draft him higher than expected. If Trey Bruke improves his 3-point shooting to match his 4.8 attempts from three per game, the Jazz might be able to have a have a sharpshooting backcourt to match their young, talented frontcourt of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.

Other possible land spots for Brown include the Charlotte Bobcats, who would need to clear room on their roster for another shooting guard, the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, who would need to trade for or purchase a second round pick.

Jordan Clarkson

Clarkson brings a much different skillset to the table compared to Brown. While Brown is average sized for a shooting guard at 6-foot-5, Clarkson is large for a point guard at the same height. Clarkson brings less shooting and a bit more penetration than Brown along with the ability to run an offense centered scoring point guards. Unlike Brown, who brings a translatable skill, Clarkson will be drafted due to his tools and size.

Philadelphia 76ers (19-63) – 32nd, 39th, 47th, and 54th picks

The Philadelphia 76ers are a tailor made suitor for Clarkson, just as they are for Brown. With no true backup point guard on the 76ers roster, Clarkson could slide right in and earn minutes from day one backing up Carter-Williams. The reason this match works so well is Clarkson, a large point guard who excels at scoring by attacking the rim, would be backing up Carter-Williams, a large point guard who excels at scoring by attacking the rim. For a young, rebuilding team like the 76ers, consistency is a must and Clarkson could provide just that behind the reigning Rookie of the Year.

Chicago Bulls (48-34) – 49th pick

Chicago Bulls are in desperate need of a scoring punch and only have Derrick Rose slotted in at point guard next year. With Rose’s injury issues, the Bulls will need to take a point guard that can provide a scoring threat. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and Clarkson seem like a match made in heaven as point guards such as CJ Watson, Nate Robinson, John Lucas III and DJ Augustin have flourished as scorers underneath Thibodeau’s offensive scheme. Combine Clarkson’s ability to drive and score along with his defensive potential due to his size, Clarkson could be a dark horse for an All-Rookie team with the Bulls depending on his playing time.

Milwaukee Bucks (15-67) – 31st and 48th picks

The Bucks had the title as the worst team in the NBA this past season, so it goes without saying that they need help in every department. With Brandon Knight as their only point guard under contract, Clarkson can bring stability, shooting and point guard duties to the Bucks. Clarkson’s size would also allow him to play alongside the Bucks undersized shooting guard O.J. Mayo

Dallas Mavericks (49-33) – 34th and 51st picks

The Mavericks have their point guards set next year with veterans Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis capable of sharing ball handling duties, with both bringing good ball distribution and shooting. Clarkson remains a fit as a third string guard due to his youth, cheap price tag, and the size to be a defensive minded guarded for Rick Carlisle’s squad. If Clarkson could come in and play solid defense from the point guard position, it would help offset the size disadvantage the Mavericks are often faced with when playing Ellis and Calderon. Combine this with Clarkson’s ability to drive the basket as a nice balance to Dirk Nowitzki’s shooting on the perimeter. Clarkson could be a good fit in Dallas.

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