LOS ANGELES -- For years, they were an NBA lottery regular, consistently picking in the top 14 and almost as consistently picking the wrong player.
Those days are a distant memory now as the Clippers, for the fourth straight season, will not have one of the top 24 picks in the NBA draft. Such is life when you're one of the top five teams in the league and not a perennial bottom-dweller.
The Clippers have only one pick in this year's draft, the 28th overall pick in the first round, but are interested in moving up or down depending on which prospects are still available in the bottom half of the first round. Here are the five players the Clippers have their eye on coming into Thursday's draft:
Kyle Anderson, "point" forward, 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, UCLA
The Clippers really like Anderson and probably would be willing to move up a few slots to get him if he's still there in the early 20s (he isn't expected to fall to No. 28). Anderson is a unique point forward that wouldn't necessarily address the Clippers' frontcourt depth issues but would be a great addition to the team. He has a high basketball IQ, great court vision and always seems to make the right play, which would make him a perfect "Lob City" fit to run the fast break from one of the three perimeter positions. Not only does Doc Rivers like his decision-making ability, but his solid midrange game and improved 3-point shooting are also intriguing. Rivers has talked about wanting to upgrade the frontcourt depth and the small forward position, and Anderson could conceivably do both.
Glenn Robinson III, small forward, 6-foot-7, 211 pounds, Michigan
There might not be anyone on the Clippers' board that fits "Lob City" better than Robinson. He is the one of the best athletes in the draft, with great length and leaping ability that would make him fit right in alongside Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Robinson is a second-generation player (his dad is former NBA forward Glenn Robinson) who has a high basketball IQ and comes into the NBA already knowing what it takes to be a professional, which are traits that go a long way with Rivers, who will ultimately make the pick. Rivers also comes into the draft looking to upgrade the frontcourt and add a solid wing player, which all works in Robinson's favor if he's available when the Clippers pick.
Cleanthony Early, small forward, 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, Wichita State
Early is another athletic small forward prospect the Clippers really like. Early can score in a variety of ways and had several highlight-reel dunks during Wichita State's postseason run. He averaged 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds as a senior and had 31 points in the Shockers' loss to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. The Clippers were impressed not only with Early's workout but also his interview.
Jerami Grant, small forward, 6-foot-8, 214 pounds, Syracuse
If the Clippers are looking for a small forward prospect with some upside that might not be ready to play immediately, they could pick Grant. He's one of the best and most explosive athletes in the draft, has great leaping ability and is excellent in the open court. He also has a solid midrange game, which Rivers is looking for. It also doesn't hurt that he's the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant, who played against Rivers. The biggest issue for Grant is his offensive game, which is certainly lacking, and he doesn't shoot 3-pointers, which is something Rivers is looking for in his small forwards.
Spencer Dinwiddie, point guard, 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Colorado
The Clippers aren't expected to go with a guard with their first-round pick, but if they do it would probably be Dinwiddie. He would have been a higher pick if he hadn't suffered a torn ACL in January. Dinwiddie was averaging 14.7 points and shooting 41.3 from 3-point range when he suffered his injury. He would certainly benefit from learning under Chris Paul. The Clippers also don't know whether they'll be able to re-sign Darren Collison, who plans to opt out of the last year of his contract.