Jerry West gives insight in what he saw in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson
“What is right isn’t always popular, and what is popular isn’t always right.”
That’s what LA Clippers consultant Jerry West told the team’s season ticket holders and a number of media members after the surprising decision to trade of franchise star Blake Griffin. And so, in the months following the Griffin trade, fans have had no choice but to trust The Logo, who had helped turn the fortunes of franchises like the Los Angeles Lakers and, most recently, the Golden State Warriors.
Beyond his successful playing career, West was a scout for three years with the Lakers before moving on to become their general manager in 1982, ultimately responsible for drafting Hall of Famer James Worthy with the number one overall. The Lakers then went on to win five NBA Championships (two with West as a scout, three as a GM). West was also instrumental in the trade for Kobe Bryant and the free agent signing of Shaquille O’Neal, which set the Lakers’ championship dynasty up from 2000-2002.
He spent six years with the Warriors from 2011 to 2017, most notably helping to lure Kevin Durant to Golden State and also preventing their front office from trading an unproven Klay Thompson (at the time) for All-Star Kevin Love back in the summer of 2014. Those two moves alone have led the Warriors to three titles in the last four years with no end in sight.
Under President Lawrence Frank, general manager Michael Winger, owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers, and consultant Jerry West, the Clippers retained both their 2018 lottery picks and selected arguably the best point guard in the draft in Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as well as the ACC’s second leading scorer in Boston College’s Jerome Robinson.
Both 6-foot-6 guards performed well for the Clippers in the NBA Summer League back in July.
In four games, Gilgeous-Alexander stuffed the stat sheet averaging 19 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.0 block in just under 28 minutes of action per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the field.
West was very high on both Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson from the start, and has remained that way throughout the offseason. Following the Summer League, West spoke to ClutchPoints briefly to expand on his thoughts regarding both young guards.
“Shai’s just going to be a tremendous player in this league,” West assured. “He’s so young, he’s got instincts that set him apart from other players. he’s going to be a really good player. Obviously, Shai is going to attract a lot of attention the way he plays. He’s a terrific young player for a kid so young.”
Gilgeous-Alexander expressed his admiration to have a mentor like West around during the beginning of his pro-career.
“It’s pretty cool [to have him there],” Gilgeous-Alexander said, pausing to point at the NBA logo behind him on what was the Summer League backdrop. “He’s obviously ‘The Logo.’ He’s giving me some pointers and stuff like that. Him obviously being a legend is pretty cool, [and I’m] just trying to pick his brain, learn from him as much as possible.”
Robinson dealt with some knee and wrist soreness throughout the tournament, but averaged 13.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists across three games. West says the cerebral mind of Robinson, in addition to his scoring and distributing talent, is what will make him a force in this league.
“Jerome… We think he’s tremendous, too,” added West. “He got his knee bumped, but we think he’s really good. He’s just really smart and he knows how to play. When you get late in the year and on really good teams, you’ve got to have smart players. This is something these two players will serve us very well going forward.”
Surprisingly, the 13th overall pick in Robinson (10 percent) came in second place behind Chicago Bulls big man Wendell Carter Jr (13 percent) as players the 2018 rookie class believe will finish with the best NBA careers when they’ve decided to hang up their sneakers.
Media Day and the start of training camp is approximately three weeks away, and fans will be able to get a much better look at this Clippers team in the preseason, who West says will win more than the 35 regular season games Las Vegas oddsmakers have predicted them to win.