Reggie Bullock was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers with the 25th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft Thursday. Bullock was one of two players with NC ties to go in the first round along with Mason Plumlee of Duke, who went 21st to the Brooklyn Nets. New Head Coach Doc Rivers will be excited to add Bullock to an already talented squad. The question now for Bullock is how he can contribute for last season’s breakout team in the West.
The Clippers had one of their best seasons in franchise history in 2012-2013, winning 56 games in the Western Conference. Despite the success, Head Coach Vinny Del Negro was fired at the end of the season, which concluded in a 6 game series loss against Memphis. The Clippers strongest positions are PG and PF, where former Wake Forest standout Chris Paul and emerging star Blake Griffin play, but the wing positions where Bullock hopes to play are wide open. With the retirement of Grant Hill, along with the possibility of Matt Barnes leaving the Clips via free agency, Bullock could be a major piece of the puzzle in Los Angeles.
One of the strong points for the Clippers last season was the bench, which averaged around 10 more point per game than its opponents. Bullock should expect a spot in that bench rotation at the very least, because one of its weaknesses was three point shooting. The bench unit only shot .347 from three point land, worse than what their opponents shot by around 1%, per hoopsstats.com. The starting SF platoon of Caron Bulter and Matt Barnes faired only slightly better, shooting a combined .359 from the three point line in the regular season. Bullock’s ability to shoot the three is one of the reasons why the Clippers drafted him, and he should find plenty of minutes off the bench because of that skill.
If Bullock plays well enough, he could find himself in the starting lineup by mid season. If Matt Barnes does leave the LA, there could be more than 40 minutes missing at SF position from the Clippers lineups last season. Bullock could help fill that role as well. In the starting lineup, Bullock would have to focus more on defense, having to guard the other teams best wing scorer. If he plays alongside projected starting SG Jamal Crawford, notoriously a poor defender, Bullock would be expected to guard the likes of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. This would be a big challenge for the former Tar Heel, but definitely a role he could handle. Also, Bullock’s three point ability could help the spacing for the big men down low. With defenders having to stay glued to Bullock on the offensive side of the floor, the Clipper bigs will have a little bit more room to operate, and Bullock would get plenty of open looks that he could knock down as the defense focuses towards LA’s superstars.
The Clippers got a talented youngster in Bullock, and he is a great fit for the team. There is no question that he will fit in with Coach Rivers and be able to get open looks on the perimeter. Bullock is going to be expected to contribute right away for the Clippers, and we could end up seeing him playing in the NBA Finals next May.