In a way, the bad luck that B.J. Boston suffered to open his only season at Kentucky last year turned out to be a huge gain for the Clippers. Boston had arrived in Lexington as one of the top recruits in the country, and as a likely Top-5 draft pick, but quickly bombed as a Wildcat, averaging 11.5 points on some horrendous shooting numbers: 34.7% from the field and 17.5% from the 3-point line. UK was 4-8 in those games, and Boston’s stock as an NBA draft prospect tanked.
He improved somewhat as the season went on, but not nearly enough to recoup his reputation. Thus, when the Clippers were working out their three-team trade Eric Bledsoe-Patrick Beverley with the Pelicans and Grizzlies, they were able to instruct Memphis to choose Boston, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, with the 51st overall pick.
It could prove to be the steal of the draft, a move that has the kind of payoff that the Clippers are getting from their second-round selection of Terance Mann in 2019. Already, with Mann out on Tuesday night against the Spurs, Boston showed he was ready for the NBA in his first real minutes with the Clippers, scoring 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting (2-for-4 on 3-pointers).
Scouts Paying Attention to Boston
According to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, who was previously in the Grizzlies front office, Boston had been impressing scouts who have watched him play for Agua Caliente, the Clippers’ G League affiliate, even before his promising outing against San Antonio. After seeing Boston play in Las Vegas, Hollinger said that many scouts feel that Boston is a better prospect than fellow rookie Keon Johnson.
“Needless to say, this also got the attention of the league’s scouts (of which there were several), and in talking to them, it was apparent Boston is already seen much more positively than the 51st spot he was selected in the 2021 NBA Draft,” Hollinger wrote. “Multiple scouts told me they now view Boston favorably to Johnson, who was selected 31 picks ahead of him.”
Certainly, even with his struggles at Kentucky last year, Boston has shown he does not lack for confidence. That was the case during Summer League, when Boston averaged 13.0 points in 24.0 minutes, and again during the preseason, when he got some chances to show what he can do—including sliding into the starting five for the Clippers’ preseason opener, and putting in 10 points. He also notched 20 points in 24 minutes in a preseason game against Sacramento.
“I am going to be hyped every game because I got a chip on my shoulder,” Boston said. “Just because of what happened last year, and this process.”
Boston Has Adjusted his Perimeter Shot
Boston, who is still 19, has already made some important changes to his game, according to Hollinger, which could help him pay dividends for the Clippers sooner rather than later.
Here’s what Hollinger found:
Boston’s length and mobility seem especially promising at the defensive end despite an unusually narrow frame. … Boston has also made some important strides. In particular, he’s made six of his 12 G League 3-pointers, and there’s reason to think this isn’t a fluke. Boston adjusted his motion to put his right leg out wide as he loads up for his shot; it’s a weird way to do things, but it seems to work for him and help him generate enough power to shoot the NBA 3. Certainly, it looks better leaving his hand after he struggled from the perimeter in his one year at Kentucky.
These are all positive developments, of course. Boston is living up to his pre-college hype, and the Clippers stand to benefit from it.