Tuesday, June 26, 2012
All right, lets do it. I've been meaning to get to this for a week after Seany-Mo's return, 2-part post (1 , 2, ) breaking down the Celtics two first round draft picks. As one of the 3 or 4 people who truly enjoys the NBA draft (apparently with Sean being one of the others, who knew?), it's one of my favorite sports nights of the year, I'd feel remiss if I didn't break down one of the more important drafts for the home town Celtics in a long time.
First lets look back at a few of the past Celts draft picks to get a sense of their history:
What do Marshon Brooks, Luke Harangody, Lester Hudson, J.R. Giddens, Semih Erden, Gabe Pruitt, and Randy Foye, all have in common? A few things actually. 1) They were all Celtics Draft picks from 2006 to 2011, 2) None of them are presently on the Celtics roster, and 3) They weren't on a Celtics roster for more than one season and in some cases none.
Now, to be fair, 2006 also brought the C's Rondo via a draft day trade, so there was some level of success. But beyond that? Nada. This isn't to fault the Celts front office though. Far from it. Basically since 2007 the Celtics haven't looked to use the draft to build. 2007 brought numerous draft day trades that brought together the Big 3 and kicked off 5 years of fantastic basketball. Subsequent draft picks were either really late in the first round, and in some years they didn't even have first rounders. There's not a ton of success anywhere in the league drafting late first-early 2nd rounders (unless of course you're the San Antonio Spurs). It just doesn't happen.
This year? It has to happen. Picking 21st and 22nd isn't ideal for a team looking, if not to rebuild, then to re-tool, on the fly. They need to make these pics count, either with value picks, or via trade. NO PROJECTS. The time for projects would have been the past few seasons when you could have afforded to develop a raw young talent over a few seasons. That time has passed. They realistically need to get a guy or two in this draft who will give real contributions, basically from year two on.
With that in mind, CW's thoughts:
Wish List: I wish the Celts would package both picks together and move up. Portland and New Orleans and Houston all have two picks prior to the Celts first, Philadelphia and the T-Wolves both have gluts of young talent they'll need to focus on for the next few season and maybe looking to move back. These are the teams I'd contact first, looking to move up. That should be option A. Who would I target? Well I have three absolute man crushes in this draft, Anthony Davis, MKG, and Bradley Beal. All should be in the top 5, which the Celts have no shot in hell at.
Realistically, I'd love for them to be looking at,
A) Austin Rivers - Yes Doc is his father. Yes Doc is notoriously hard on young guards (see Rondo, Rajon). But you know what? Wing players who can shoot in space and can create their own shot, basically at will, don't come along that often, and rarely are they talked about as dropping outside the top 10, which is where Rivers is consistently projected. Blame it on an overly deep draft, on some maturity questions, whatever, Austin is legit and every team outside the top 4 or so that pass on him will live to regret it. If the Celts can reasonably swing a deal into the 10-12 pick range knowing they'll get Rivers, they need to do it.
B) John Henson - A middle class mans Anthony Davis. Someone who looks like he'll be just as much of a defensive force, with maybe a bit less of an offensive game (and less room to develop). For analogies sake if Anthony Davis is Tim Duncan, John Henson is going to be Marcus Camby. (I realize both of these comparisons are lofty, Duncan is one of the best ever, Camby has quietly had a really successful 15-16 year career, but its just an analogy). Recent projections show Henson sliding somewhere in the 10-15 range, if that happens, he's a solid second in my book to Rivers as far as trade targets.
If Trading is out of the Question:
If trading is out of the question, I'll stress again, they need to draft guys who they think can reasonably develop in the next 2 seasons into contributors, again, NO PROJECTS.
My ideal outcome: Two of Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, Draymond Green
Sullinger is in FREE FALL. Teams are concerned about his back, and the potential for it to shorten his career...but once you get past the 14th or so pick, what's the worry? The average career for an NBA player is what, 4 years or so? Less? Are we talking about even shorter for Sullinger? I doubt it. If you're picking outside the lottery why not roll the dice and a guy who's inside game is as good as anyone's in this draft? If he starts being a real option around picks 18,19, I really hope Ainge works the phones to find out if he's going to make it to 21, if not I'd pull the trigger on a minor deal maybe the 22nd and next years first rounder for a shot at Sullinger.
Fab Melo can be a force inside in this league. I say "can be," because he can also be a disaster who spends his career in the D-League. But you know what? If KG is back, this is exactly the kind of guy Garnett can pass on his work ethic, intensity, and techniques too. Seany-Mo is all concerned about his rebound rates in college...Syracuse plays the zone, bro. They don't rebound well by design. It's often one on two or two on three under the hoop in favor of the offensive team due to the Cuse's defensive scheme. That won't be the case in the NBA. He's a big, athletic 7 footer with serious size, he'll rebound, he'll block shots, and with any luck, he'll develop a post game. I want him on this team, I need him on this team.
Draymond Green - Does everything. Won't be a star, will have a decent career. A point forward type player, not the most athletically gifted or biggest guy, but a guy who's proven he knows how to play. He's smart, plays within himself, and causes matchup problems. His defense would be the big questions mark, but then again these Celts got Ray Allen to be a reasonable defender, so I'd think they could teach a smart player like Draymond the basics of good footwork.
The "I don't like it, but I can live with it," outcome: Two of Royce White, Jeff Taylor, Arnett Moultrie:
Royce White - By all accounts he's a top 10 talent. Also by all accounts he's a serious head case, with fairly severe anxiety issues. Never spent more than one year a high school or college. But again, by all accounts as talented as just about anyone in the top 10. I didn't see much of him, I do know he dominated Uconn in the tournament, for whatever that's worth.
Jeff Taylor - A little redundant with Avery Bradley on the roster, but then again he gives a little bit more size than Bradley and lock down defenders fit the Celtics profile perfectly. If you can hold your own on defense, you'll get a shot early in the NBA, and that's how Jeff Taylor is going to make his mark. By all acounts he's a good shooter from space, but can't create his own shot...so think of him as a defensive Ray Allen...obviously not as good of a shooter as Ray, but a better defender on the otherside.
Arnett Moultrie - I don't know how to peg this guy, he's been projected all over the place. I've never seen him play either. But I do know the Celts need help up front, and a 6-11 athletic big man fits the need. Maybe he'll be a Tony Battie, who knows.
The "Goddamnit, We're Headed for Years of 7th and 8th seeds," Outcome: Royce White and Andrew Nicholson.
Royce White: Again? Yes. Because I broke my rule about projects earlier. He's a project. He has issues. He's also extremely talented. That's why I broke my own rule. But I did so in hoping that we'd pair him with a ready to go player like Jeff Taylor. We can't afford to whiff twice, which is exactly what we'd be doing if we selected Royce with...
Andrew Nicholson: Project. That's what his scouting reports scream. Rise with workouts is always a huge red flag for me. I don't need a workout warrior, I need a gamer. Who cares if he's good at the Mikan drill and shuttle runs? Why wasn't he good enough in games to be ranked this highly. Andrew Nicholson, you might be a nice guy, you might run the three man weave better than any big man in the draft, but I don't want you on the Celtics, I just don't.
There you have it, CW's exhaustive, delayed, and long winded break down of the Celtics Thursday night draft.