Dunleavy/Olshey comments on Thursday’s NBA draft

Clippers Head Coach and General Manager Mike Dunleavy and Assistant GM Neil Olshey spoke to the media today about their draft day plans and how the roster might shape up. Surprisingly, very little was focused on the 20-year-old Oklahoma forward they’ve all but confirmed they’re taking at No. 1. Read on for more.

Don’t be surprised if the Clippers swing a trade for a late first or early-second round selection where they could take a “perimeter” guy, as Dunleavy mentioned. Spots to keep an eye on: In the first round, Nos. 33 (which, you may remember, once belonged to the Clippers), 35, 38, 39, 44, 55, 56.

Guys the Clippers are rumored to have thought about and could select if they trade for a second (or third) pick, in alphabetical order:

Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona (failed to live up to his potential in college, but still a lot of upside)
Toney Douglas, SG, Florida State (many liken him to Ben Gordon)
Darren Collison, PG, UCLA (a good bet to have at least some success at the next level)
Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC (good shooter, but not incredibly athletic)
Danny Green, SF, UNC (his ceiling is lower than any of these guys’, but a good role player)
Jack McClinton, PG/SG, Miami (a slightly better version of Daniel Ewing, but more selfish)
Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky (a prolific scorer who would’ve benefited greatly from staying for his senior year)
Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s (an interesting, score-first point guard who may — or may not — have a first-round guarantee)
Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF (a poor man’s Eric Gordon)
Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU (more of an undersized 3 than a 2)

Continue reading for the full transcript of both of Dunleavy and Olshey’s interviews.

Assistant GM Neil Olshey
I don’t blame them for it, I just think this is a unique draft where it didn’t matter what team got the (first) pick, there wasn’t gonna be any mystery involved. I think (the league) understand(s) that too.

The broadcast is fun. We all enjoy it. I think we jumped the gun with our excitement. With the luck we’ve had the last couple years with injuries and everything else that’s gone the wrong way, to have that kind of thing happen on draft night got everybody excited. It was four in the morning in Spain when Coach (Dunleavy) made the comment, so I think if we had given it a little more thought, we might’ve played our cards a little closer to the vest.

We’re not putting out feelers for our big men. I think people think that we need to balance up our roster, and they’ve made phone calls, but none of the deals they’ve come up with so far give us any motivation to do anything at this point. I think Mike, in the workouts, saw how versatile Blake is and, you know, right now everybody’s got a role, and we’ve probably got a little more front-court depth and a little more questions in the back-court, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes. (When?) Probably sometime before November 1st.

The pick’s not going anywhere. The success we’ve had the last few years, adding Eric (Gordon), adding Al (Thornton), that’s two starters, another guy who could potentially be a starter at some point in his career, we’re not gonna miss an opportunity to add another great young 20-year-old player.

What makes Blake Griffin so good off the court? His character. He comes from a great family. He stayed home to play at school. His work ethic is off the charts. One of the things we’ve tried to do in the draft the last few years is get guys with big-time motors, and he’s got a big-time motor. The great thing about him is he’s already a player, and he’s not satisfied with that. He wants to be great. Hopefully we put together the pieces and the resources so that he can become great.

Well that he’ll go through anything. One thing we’ve learned with the guys is that the easiest thing is to get them to do the training with the ball in their hands. They all love to play, but to be able to do the conditioning, the extra work, to put them in a position to play the style we want to play, and the sacrifices he’s made when he was the presumptive No. 1 pick that was never gonna change. I know it’s a little bit of rhetoric on my part, but there isn’t a team in the league that put their first mock draft together 12 months ago that didn’t have him #1, and I don’t think anybody’s vacillated from that the rest of the year. The fact that he continued to work that hard in the preseason, when, really, it wasn’t going to affect his draft stock is a testament to him. So I can only imagine when he gets in here and he’s fighting for playing time, how hard he’s going to work.

I think he’s gotta become more comfortable with some of the things he’s capable of doing, playing away from the hoop. He didn’t really have an opportunity to do that, and there was no need for him to do that at Oklahoma. He led the nation in rebounding and was a dominant scorer for them without ever leaving the paint. So I think, much like Elton Brand, Amare Stoudemire, Karl Malone, some of the power players that dominated the interior of college basketball, I think in order to use his quickness more, his ability to beat people off the dribble, and his ability to break guys down off the bounce, the better he can shoot from 15-17 feet the more effective he’s gonna be.

College coaches’ jobs are to win games. And the best way to win games for Oklahoma is to put him on the block and let him go to work and beast people. No different for Tyler Hansbrough and a couple other guys. That’s traditionally been what’s happening and then guys come up here and you’ve got $50 million practice facilities and they live in the gym and they work on the game. I’ve talked about it before, I was a coach with Elton Brand when he was pretty much exclusively an interior player, and you know, seven years into his career, became one of the best 18-foot jump shooters in the league for bigs. Same with Carlos Boozer, Amare, Malone. So, the fact that he’s shown any potential for that at all, well we’re gonna get him where he needs to go. We’ve got a track record for doing it.

His agent is based in Los Angeles. He’s only been (to the Clippers training facility) once. He came in for his visit, and he worked out for all of you guys and us, and since then he’s stayed in Los Angeles. He’s comfortable with it, because Sam Goldfeder is based here. I think right now he’s already up in New York. I think he was at ESPN today doing some stuff there.

We haven’t worked out anybody else but we’ve sent scouts and Coach Dunleavy and I have attended the Golden State workouts, the multi-team workouts, and New Jersey, and we’ve got a good handle on the draft. We’ve worked the draft all the way to this point. You know, workout times are a little bit overrated, unless you’re really honing in on a guy. I think Blake was important for Coach Dunleavy because he was able to see certain things you would never catch on film. But most guys have played a position they’re going to translate to at this level, and you can pretty much get a feel for who you need based on college film, live scouting, statistical analysis. We’re gonna try to jump in the draft, and we’ve proven the last year or so that we’re not afraid to make transactions, some have worked, some haven’t, but we’ve been as active as any team in the league and we’re gonna continue to do that straight through to Thursday night.

I think if you cluster the draft, I think there’s a guy who’s the presumptive No. 1 pick, and then I think you’re gonna get the same value from 2-9 or 10 and I think you’re looking at the same kind of guy from 10-18 or 19.

I don’t think this draft is as top-heavy as some. You look at some of the guys last year, you’ve got guys, all rookie players like Eric Gordon and Brook Lopez, at 7 and 10. I think this is gonna be a draft with a lot of uncertainty and I think you’re gonna get guys clustered into three or four players in a group. One could be a star, one could be a bust, and one could just be a mediocre player. I think a lot of people are struggling with figuring out who that guy is right now.

I think (Blake) was consistent straight through. I think one of the things that he’s really improved on, which intrigues us, is his ability to make plays for other people. As the year went on, as dominant as he was, his ability to make plays out of double and triple teams in the low post was a huge jump for him, and it made the game a lot easier for some of the guys on his team, Juan Patillo, Willie Warren, his brother Taylor, Austin Johnson, and I think that’s gonna translate for him here. I think he’s gonna get a lot of attention and I think he’s one of the kind of guys that guys really like to play with, and I think that’s one of things our veterans are excited about is, he does the things we need him to do. He rebounds the ball, which means we can run. He runs the floor like a deer, and he’s unselfish. He’s not a black hole in the low post, with guys like Eric that can bang down shots, and Baron and his ability to drive and make plays, guys you can play with in pairs, whether it’s with Zach or with Chris or Marcus, I think they’re gonna enjoy playing with him.

I spoke briefly with Jeff [Capel] earlier in the year, just casual, but we’ve done our background on Blake, and I think we’re pretty safe there.

I think that a lot of the times you get in a situation where either you’re building with young guys and you’re willing to lose games in the process because you’ve got a long-term plan, or you’ve got veterans and you’re win now, and I think we’ve got a nice combination of both. We’ve got four, and potentially five, very good young players that balance the roster, but with veterans like Zach, all-stars like Marcus and Baron, and a guy like Chris who was on his way to an all-star game before the injuries happened, I think we’ve got the ability to win today and build for the future, so it’s an opportunity to kind of sell hope and success.

Head Coach and GM Mike Dunleavy

Very touchy. Gotta have the protestors out. Just have to talk in riddles, speak in tongues.

I don’t know what you are talking about. I was in Barcelona, it was four o’clock in the morning. I can’t remember. I don’t know what happened there.

There are a lot of players out there that are good players that could potentially be good fits. I think we’re always exploring opportunities. Sometimes you’d like to be a little proactive with it, so you can get one sooner than later as opposed to, suddenly comes somebody your way that you really like and you figure, how can I make it happen? It’s a couple days before the draft. There’s some teams out there that would potentially like to sell a pick, because they have multiple picks and they don’t want to take it on their payroll, either that or they’ll take an European player and stash ’em so he won’t go on their cap. Multiple first-round picks, multiple second-round picks, those guys are usually candidates to move on.

I think there’s a lot of talk. A little bit less for us, this time around, because of where we are and basically our stance on the pick. I haven’t talked to anybody about the pick in probably about two weeks, not to say that somebody couldn’t come in with a last-minute offer of some kind, but I doubt that anything’s gonna happen.

I think that, basically, as we should, we have a high value on the player we could potentially pick, based on everything about him.

Obviously if we were to make any kind of moves with our team, it’s gonna be about now. I think for us to be able to do anything, there’s a predraft market and a post-draft market for what we can do. Clearly, we don’t need a front line, so pick your perimeter.

A guy like Blake Griffin has the ability in our league — because the league is going smaller at times — to play 5 at times. He’s probably a natural power forward, but he also, based on his quickness and athleticism, has some versatility to his game. The more consistent he gets from the outside with his jump shot, the more he’ll be able to play 3.

Basically, his size, his quickness and explosion, and his ball-handling skills. I think all of those are going to impact his ability to succeed in a very positive way.

Everything I’ve heard about him has been incredibly good, and his work ethic is beyond reproach.

Basically, what we’re looking to do is kinda a combination of push — I think the best fast break has been the classic fast break, the Laker fast break in the 80’s and 90’s where you have a guy take the ball off the glass and try to break it out, you fill your wings, and you have big guys fill the box.

I’m not asking them to dribble down the floor, I’m asking them to take one dribble and outlet it. I think all of our guys can do that.

The key is, to me, at the perimeter position, the guys being able to push the ball. Being able to (get) multiple possessions down the floor, and that’s the emphasis right now. Our emphasis for Baron, he’s a guy that last year because of injuries, I don’t think did that as well as he has been able to in the past and as well as we’d like for him to do it. He’s been in the gym since May the 10th right now, shooting the ball, his shot looks great, and conditioning-wise, we’re not expecting him to be ready to go as of today, but clearly, it’s earlier than he’s been in the gym in many years, and to me, that’s the key: his ability to push and break people down off the dribble.

Well, (Rubio’s) ability to push the ball. His ability to make passes, make plays. He’s got great court vision, he finds his people and he gets them shots.

I’m not exactly sure if I can in those terms. I’ve seen him play, I think he’s a good player, I think he works really hard, and he’ll be a player coveted by a lot of teams.

I’m never surprised by the draft. I’m never surprised by the draft. I think we have valued the draft very well over the last five years, sometimes guys have gotten to us that we valued higher and proved to be guys that we think should have gone where we thought they should go. You put your guys on a board and you value them, and if somebody seems to slip to you, you try to do what you can to get that value.

I think it’s more bunched up. There’s not as many clear guys as far as a pecking order. Typically each year there’s a debate over who the No. 1 pick in the draft is, I doubt there is this year. There’s usually a debate of two or three and who’s gonna go. I think that people feel like ten picks down in the draft, in some ways, could impact the draft as well as somebody — I’m saying all the way through it, this is a different year — somebody taken at 10 might be surpassed by somebody taken at 20. I think they’re really bunched up, as far as talent. There’s a lot of good players out there that can help some teams.

DeAndre’s been great. He’s been in here and he’s worked hard. He’s spending a lot of time on his free throw shooting and skill work and conditioning, because that’s clearly an area for a young player to take big leaps. He’s been in the gym doing a good job. (His ceiling) depends on, I think he has the tools to be a Tyson Chandler-type of player for sure, rebounding, running, jumping, great hands, great finisher, and then the question would be, can he come out on the floor and get a — typically with all the big guys, the first place we go with them is, can you hit that Tim Duncan bank shot, that mid-range bank shot where somebody’s gotta play you then your quickness comes into play a great deal where they just can’t play off of you. DeAndre’s got some quickness and can finish from long range and I think that’s one of the other skill sets that he’s working on.

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