Clippers' Doc Rivers more than familiar with Reggie Bullock
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers had a close-up seat for the Duke-North Carolina basketball rivalry when his son, Austin Rivers, played for the Blue Devils in the 2011-12 season.
He saw one of the most memorable shots in series history when Austin hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat the Tar Heels at the Smith Center. He also was able to get a good look at UNC’s Reggie Bullock, whom the Clippers selected Thursday with the 25th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
“Having been a guy who’s been to a lot of Duke vs. North Carolina games, I got a chance to see him up close,” Rivers said. “He can play the small forward position, he can shoot it on the catch and he can defend. Those are all of the things we have targeted and that’s what we got.”
The 6-7 swingman became the 25th player under Roy Williams to be drafted in the first round, and the ninth in five years. But that outcome wasn’t assured when he declared for the draft two months ago.
Williams had recommended the Kinston native return for his senior year since the NBA personnel he spoke with thought Bullock was a question mark for the first round. But Bullock had successful individual workouts with the Clippers and the Celtics, where Rivers coached before changing teams earlier this week. Now, he’s earned a guaranteed two-year contract worth $1,958,100, with a team option for a third year at $1,043,700.
“I liked the way he carried himself in the workout,” Rivers said. “And the fact he knows what he does and he never strays away from that. You can tell that Roy Williams probably kept beating that into him that ‘You’re a shooter, you’re a catch-and-shoot player.’ But he never put himself in a position where he could make a mistake, and that’s really nice when you see players like that.”
Bullock was third in the ACC in 3-point accuracy last season (43.6 percent) and averaged 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds. He will be joining a team that set a franchise record with 56 wins this season behind point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin.
“I think he’s a great young man, an excellent teammate,” Clippers Vice President of Basketball Operations David Sacks said. “He’s going to be a real good chemistry guy. His release is efficient and quick with his length and size. As an athlete, he’s a little bit underrated. He’s pretty athletic. We felt like seeing him here in person, it really stood out — his size and his ability to shoot.”
Sacks said the staff was also impressed with Bullock’s work ethic and how he takes pride in guarding his man and working within the system on defense.
Still, his biggest attribute was his shooting ability. Sacks said he doesn’t like comparing players, but he thought Bullock has the potential to be like Danny Green, another former Tar Heel who just set an NBA Finals record with 27 made 3-pointers (on 49 attempts) for San Antonio. But first he’ll have to break into the rotation.
“It takes a little bit of time, especially on a team like ours, to become part of the rotation and to put himself in that position,” Sacks said. “But we feel like we got a guy who brings a skill set to our team that you can never have a shortage of, and that’s shooting.”