It’s safe to say the Boston Celtics have many needs as the June 26th NBA draft approaches; and with good reason. Coming off a 25-57 season with a mix-and-match roster filled with role players, the Celtics are in dire need of building the foundation of the next contending team. Possessing 11 first round draft choices in the next five years (6th and 17th selection in 2014), team president Danny Ainge clearly has the opportunity to pick top-level talent, either to build the next contender or use as trade chips to acquire a veteran cornerstone player.
So, with Rajon Rondo as the only All Star caliber player; IF the Celtics decide to build through the draft, here is a look at the Celtics options with their two first round draft choices.
Dante Exum 6-6 196 PG/SG Australia International
Julius Randle 6-9 250 PF Kentucky Fr.
Marcus Smart 6-3 227 PG Oklahoma State So.
Aaron Gordon 6-9 220 PF Arizona
If available, Exum is an intriguing option. His length and athleticism would make him a great combo guard and add size to a small backcourt.
Given Exum is projected as a top 4 or 5 prospect, his availability is unlikely. In that case, Marcus Smart would be a wise selection. Smart is a physical point guard who can score off the dribble as well as play NBA-caliber defense.
Aaron Gordon has great athleticism but not polished on the offensive end of the court. Another possible option would be Julius Randle, but I do not see his upside as great in the pros. Randle was able to use his physical style and size to his advantage against smaller college competition, but will not necessarily be able to do that against stronger pro talent.
Dario Saric 6-10 225 SF/PF Croatia International.
T.J Warren – 6-8 220 SF/PF North Carolina State Jr.
Doug McDermott 6-7 220 SF Creighton Sr.
Kyle Anderson 6-9 230 SF UCLA So.
Kristaps Porzingis 7-0 215 PF Latvia International
I truly hope that Doug McDermott is not around when the Celtics select 17. He is the type of player that makes me immediately think of Adam Morrison; a tremendous college scorer who lacks the athleticism to play small forward in the NBA.
If I were in the draft war room would lean towards Dario Saric as the Celtics selection at 17 (again if still on the board). Saric is a very versatile player who has a unique skill set for a player 6-10. With some comparing him to Boris Diaw, a player with a keen sense for the game would be an ideal fit in Boston.
Kyle Anderson is a very intriguing option for Boston. Somewhat lacking in explosive athleticism, a 6-9 player who possesses the basketball skill set he does would make a sound transition into the NBA. Fortunately for Boston Anderson will be slotted into a SG or SF role, where his ball-handling skills would be beneficial (played some PG in college).
If a longer-term prospect with high upside is in order, Porzingis might be a smart selection. The international players play a far more mature style of basketball as compared to the US counterparts. Fans need only look at how successful the San Antonio Spurs have been over the past 15+ years incorporating international players into the rotation.
T.J. Warren is a wing scorer with an NBA-ready physique. While he can shoot from the perimeter and body up smaller SF in the paint, he lacks some athleticism to be a potent SF or size to be a force at PF in the NBA.
Beyond the top 4 or 5 picks, the talent available in the draft drops off significantly. That is not to say the Celtics could not draft talent to build a solid NBA rotation; only there are questions about each as to their full NBA potential. Of the group, Exum and Smart will likely be solid 10-year NBA players, with the others offering varying level of promise.
If the right opportunity presents itself, the Celtics would be wise to package picks to get into the top 3 or include the picks with a current combination of players to trade for a veteran who can turn the franchise around.
Unless a blockbuster trade is made, this 2014 draft will only moderately improve the talent base in Boston; and lead to a continuation of the longer rebuilding process that began last summer.
Founder, Senior Contributor – Banner Day Boston
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