One is a cautionary tale, the other a success story. At least in the way early drafts of their young careers have been written. But as is generally the case with early drafts, there is plenty of room for revision. And in the first few weeks of training camp with the Clippers, second-round draft picks Mike Taylor and DeAndre Jordan have done some major editing.
Taylor, who played in the D-League last season after being kicked off the Iowa State team after one season and an assortment of run-ins with the law, was the surprise star of the Clippers exhibition opener against the Lakers last week with 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting and seems to be making a push for extended minutes in the Clippers backcourt.
Jordan, a projected lottery pick out of high school who dropped all the way into the second round after a tepid freshman season at Texas A&M, has been the subject of constant praise from head coach Mike Dunleavy for his athletic style of play, aggressive rebounding and better-than-expected scoring touch around the basket.
With the Clippers short on bodies for tonight’s exhibition game in Oklahoma City against the Thunder, following another bite of the flu bug (Baron Davis), some knicked fingers (Paul Davis) and feet (Marcus Camby, Eric Gordon) and strained muscles (Tim Thomas), Taylor and Jordan will likely have an extended opportunity to play.
“The young guys are really doing a good job for us,” Dunleavy said. “(DeAndre Jordan) has done a great job of blocking shots, defending people, rebounding. At this point, to be honest with you, he’s a little further along than I expected. … Mike Taylor has been just terrific. Defending and running his team. He’s scored points and run his team very well. We went after him, we went out of our way to go get him because we felt like he could play point.”
The Clippers discovered Taylor in a workout where he was matched on a point guard they were considering taking with the No. 7 overall pick. Taylor played so well, the Clippers considered taking him with the No. 35 overall pick. But when Jordan fell out of the first round, they couldn’t resist taking a chance on a player who had been rated at the same level as UCLA center/forward Kevin Love coming out of high school.
The Clippers liked both players so much, they signed them to guaranteed contracts over the summer, which is rare for second-round draft choices.
“I was shocked (Jordan) was there at 35, he was definitely projected higher and I think he should’ve gone higher,” Dunleavy said. “I was planning to take (Mike Taylor) at 35. We just really liked him. The question was: He’s not a real point guard yet, and could he play there? I think the answer is yes. But then when DeAndre was there, and we took him at 35, we said, `We gotta find out how to get another pick.’ Finally we got the 55 pick (from Portland) and took Taylor.”
With so many veterans nursing injuries, and another game in Stockton against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, Dunleavy said the rookies would likely play extended minutes tonight.
Davis did not travel to Oklahoma City with the team on Monday after coming down with the flu. Thomas and Camby also will not play. Davis and Gordon are listed as probable.