Bullock cashes in with Clippers
Reggie Bullock’s gamble appears to have paid off.
The North Carolina junior declared for the NBA draft two months ago without a first-round guarantee, going against the advice of Coach Roy Williams.
But Bullock worked his way up the draft charts with strong showings at the combine and individual team workouts, and he was picked 25th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.
The Kinston native became UNC’s ninth first-round pick in five years and is assured of receiving a two-year guaranteed contract. No UNC player has left early without being selected in the first round since junior Jeff McInnis in 1996.
The 6-7 swingman was named team MVP this past season and was second-team All-ACC after he led the Tar Heels in 3-point percentage (43.6), was second in rebounding (6.5) and was third in scoring (13.9), assists (101) and steals (44).
Bullock's 3-point percentage was third in the conference, and his ability from long range was the most appealing trait for NBA teams. His career shooting percentage from behind the arc (38.7) is 11th best in school history.
“He’s primarily a shooter and a guy that can make shots with his length and his ability to get it off,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said on the draft broadcast. “Sixty percent of his shots last year were jump shots, 44 percent of those were spot-ups, and he knocked down a high percentage of them. I thought he was one of the five best players in the ACC last year.”
Bullock also showed off his defense and rebounding ability at UNC. He was called on to be a defensive stopper in 2012 after Dexter Strickland suffered a season-ending knee injury, and he was a strong rebounder this past season after the Tar Heels went to a four-guard lineup, leading the team in that category in nine of the last 10 games.
His biggest weaknesses were ballhandling and creating his shot.
Bullock is guaranteed $1,958,100 over the next two seasons. The Clippers hold an option for the third year, which would be at a salary of $1,043,700.
“I am thrilled, just absolutely thrilled for the young man," UNC coach Roy Williams said in a statement. "I’m as ecstatic as I could possibly be. I spoke to Reggie just moments after he was selected, and he’s so happy and excited. He really did a great job throughout the pre-draft process with his workouts and interviews, especially with the Clippers.
"Everyone knows by now that I was a bit scared initially about his decision to enter the draft because the NBA people that I spoke to said he was a borderline first- or second-round pick. ... But the Clippers selecting Reggie in the first round shows everyone how well he performed under pressure in the pre-draft workouts. I take my hat off to him. He earned that first-round pick."
Besides joining a playoff team, Bullock will be coached by Doc Rivers, who was dealt by the Celtics for a future first-round pick earlier this week.
"He’s going to play for an outstanding coach in Doc Rivers, a friend of mine," Williams said. "Doc’s going to do great things with the Clippers and I am just thrilled that Reggie is going to get a chance to be part of that success.”
Behind point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers won a program-record 56 games this past season and claimed the Pacific Division title before losing to Memphis in the first round.
Paul is a free agent, though Rivers’ hiring is expected to entice the point guard to re-sign with the Clippers.
Paul congratulated Bullock on Twitter on Thursday night, noting that Bullock was on his first 15-and-under CP3 All-Stars AAU team.