PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Heading into summer league and training camp this fall, Los Angeles Clippers first-round draft pick Reggie Bullock has one major advantage over most other rookies: He already has a relationship with his team’s coach and superstar point guard.
Bullock, whom the Clippers selected out of North Carolina with the 25th pick in last month’s draft, squared off against Doc Rivers’ son, former Duke phenom and current New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers, on several occasions during the 2011-12 NCAA season.
“I’ve known him for a while,” Bullock said of Doc Rivers. “It’s great to just have someone like that, another father figure, in my life.”
The 6-foot-7, 205-pound swingman also is familiar with Chris Paul, as he played on Paul’s first 15-and-under AAU team in North Carolina and was in communication with the point guard throughout the draft process.
Bullock compared his style of play to Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green and Miami Heat guard Ray Allen but added that he believes his defense will ultimately be his calling card.
“I’m just going to play my game,” Bullock said. “[The Clippers have] seen so much film on me that they know what I’m capable of doing, which is shooting the ball and defending. I’m just going to try to be hectic on defense and just try to knock down shots when they come to me.”
While Bullock said he feels comfortable playing both shooting guard and small forward, he admitted he needs to add some bulk before matching up against some of the NBA’s bigger small forwards.
Despite all the reported moves the Clippers have made since the start of the free-agency moratorium July 1, Rivers and vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks believe Bullock has a legitimate chance to be part of the Clippers’ wing rotation because of his 3-point shooting and defense.
“We love his shot,” Rivers said. “We love his size. Shooting in our league is huge. He can do that. He can do more than that. I think you’ll be surprised with his defense.”
Bullock averaged 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season. He shot 38.7 percent from beyond the arc at North Carolina, and his statistics improved across the board in each of his three seasons.
Bullock will wear jersey No. 25, which was Rivers’ old jersey number with the Clippers.
Coming from North Carolina, he said he’s excited to play in “one of the best cities in the world” and on one of the league’s best teams.
Most of all, though, Bullock looks forward to playing alongside Paul and under Rivers, whom he considers among the league’s best motivators and tacticians.
“He’s definitely one of the best coaches in the league,” Bullock said. “I like how he uses his wings. He loves shooting, which is what I’m trying to bring to this organization. He coaches players.
“He’s not going to tell you what you want to hear. He’s going to tell you what you need to hear.”