LOS ANGELES (AP) - Georgia was definitely on the Los Angeles Clippers’ minds.
They took Georgia teammates Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie with their two second-round picks in the NBA draft on Thursday night.
Thompkins was drafted 37th overall, while Leslie was chosen 47th. Both are juniors who left school early to enter the draft.
Thompkins, a 6-foot-10 forward from Lithonia, Ga., averaged 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Bulldogs last season, when his 50 blocks were the most by a Georgia player in 15 years. He made the All-SEC first team each of his three years.
His father, Howard Thompkins Jr., was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1981.
Leslie, a 6-4 guard from Decatur, Ga., averaged 14.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He’s known for his dunking ability. He was named to the All-SEC second team last season.
“Leslie can be a lock-down defender and we want to make sure Blake has competition in the dunk contest next year,” Clippers general manager Neil Olshey said. “Trey is a great compliment to Blake.”
He said the team has been following both players throughout their college careers.
Second-year Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said it just worked out that both of the team’s picks were from the same school.
“The skill set of Trey is impressive, the way he can shoot the ball,” Del Negro said.
Thompkins is a friend of second-year Clippers player Al-Farouq Aminu, who is from Norcross, Ga., and played college ball at Wake Forest.
“Guys are finding reasons they want to be here,” Olshey said. “Farouq has spoken so highly of his experience here and I think that’s something Trey wanted to take advantage of.”
Despite the looming threat of an NBA lockout, the Clippers are eager to get their two picks to Los Angeles to learn the team’s culture and start working them out.
Olshey discounted criticism of Thompkins’ conditioning, believing the team can help him improve immensely.
“The game comes too easily to him at times,” he said. “He was able to get away with it because he was so much better (in college).”
Olshey said the Clippers had a lot of trade discussions leading up to the draft, but they had no interest in trying to swing a deal to land a first-round pick.
“We like our roster the way it is,” he said, nothing the team has $12 million in salary cap room to land a big-name free agent.
The Clippers never had much to show for having the 37th and 47th picks once before. They took Elliot Perry of Memphis with the 37th pick in 1991. He played 10 games for them that season before being waived, and went on to play 10 years in the league.
They took Tim McCalister from Oklahoma with the 47th pick in 1987, but he never appeared in an NBA game.
“Taking a guy that’s going to hang around your roster for a year or two doesn’t do anything for you,” Olshey said.
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