LA Clippers Rising Stars

Staples Center
Staples Center. Photo Credit: Christopher Chan - Under Creative Commons License

LA Clippers Rising Stars

With only a few months left until the 2018-19 NBA season, it’s time to start tracking the future leaders of the league.

The 2018 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas gave fans and media a glimpse of what to expect from young and upcoming players. The newest additions to the Los Angeles Clippers were amongst the group.

The Clippers’ arsenal of point guards already appears spectacular on paper. Add in the energetic play from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson that debuted during the Summer League and now the Clippers are really putting on a show.

Both SGA and Robinson are young, 20 and 21 years old respectively, yet they have tremendous potential and vigor. Each of these players has started from the bottom and their journey to the top is far from over.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

The best point guard of the 2018 NBA Draft. The season has yet to start and this is the title SGA has already earned. Standing at 6-foot-6 with a wingspan of nearly 7 feet, he is not the average point guard. He towers over most of his opponents and can defend large portions of the court.

During the Summer League, SGA stacked up quite the highlight reel. Against the Houston Rockets, he had 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. This was one of the strongest rookie performances in Vegas.

The spotlight has not come easily to Gilgeous-Alexander. At the University of Kentucky, he was a part of one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, but he did not share the 5-star like his other incoming teammates. SGA did not start the first nine games of the season and was not recognized as a consistent starter until halfway through the season.

After working his way up, off the bench and onto the court, he stayed and he made an impact. Gilgeous-Alexander shot 40-percent from behind the arc. He averaged 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 5.1 assists during his college career, which was only one year with Kentucky.

Going into the 2018 NBA Draft, SGA was one of the top point guards on the list. It was a surprise to see him go outside of the top 10. He landed with the Charlotte Hornets at No. 11 and was traded to the Clippers. A definite steal. He was the 3rd point-guard off the board, behind Trae Young and Collin Sexton.

SGA was questioned on his position as a point guard because of his lack of a pull-up jump shot compared to conventional point guards. All his other characteristics meet the bar. He is a strategic ball-handler which gives him the ability to break down defenders off the dribble. He also can drive to the basket while opening the floor or just taking it to the rim himself.

Tracking Gilgeous-Alexandar this upcoming season should be quite compelling.

Jerome Robinson

Robinson landed himself at Boston College, known more for hockey and football than basketball, and put the team on his back.

Gilgeous-Alexander had to earn his spotlight among many spotlights, but Robinson created a spotlight himself. Both succeeded.

After two years with Boston College, Robinson was ranked 2nd in the ACC for scoring, averaging 20.7 points per game and was a First Team All-ACC selection. Last February, he scored a staggering 46 points against Notre Dame.

This stat list did not come easy. Boston College went 0-18 his freshmen year and yet Robinson still managed to score 11.7 ppg. After making the decision to stay at Boston College, Robinson continued to improve and brought his team along for the ride.

Leading up to the 2018 NBA Draft, Robinson had a win over top competitor Duke University and Boston’s College first winning season since 2011. This put him on the board as a top point guard for the draft. He went No. 13 overall to the LA Clippers, not too far behind SGA.

During the summer league, Robinson showed off his around-the-court shooting abilities and averaged 13.7 points across three games while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor. In combination with SGA against Houston, Robinson added 14 points and 5 rebounds. SGA and Robinson finished with a combined 39 points. This was a tough loss for the Clippers but it definitely showed the versatility of their young point guards.

Robinson flies a little more under the radar than his teammate Gilegious-Alexander but he still makes a difference on the court and with some growth he can be the same leader in the NBA as he was at Boston College.

The NBA season begins in late October. Stay with Sports Al Dente all season as we follow and profile these rising stars!