|Celtics draft prospects||06.22.10 at 3:51 pm ET|
The revamping, or possibly the rebuilding, of the Celtics begins Thursday night with the NBA Draft. The C’s still have a number of unanswered questions heading into the offseason, but they do stand to select a player who can contribute next year.
This year’s draft is top-heavy with two sure things: John Wall and Evan Turner. After that the next five picks figure to be (in some order): Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson, Greg Monroe and Al-Farouq Aminu.
That’s where the draft begins to take on an unexpected flavor. There doesn’t appear to be much separation among the next 20 or so prospects, which could lead to a wild night of trades if teams have zeroed in on a specific player.
If the Celtics stay at 19 they are likely to be looking at either NBA-ready wing players or developing big men. While not perfect, Danny Ainge has a strong track record of drafting both types of players. He hit on numerous second-round picks such as Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe and Glen Davis and he also drafted solid role players late in the first round in Delonte West and Tony Allen.
Ainge also tabbed Kendrick Perkins and Al Jefferson out of high school. The misses tended to be on projection players like Gerald Green.
His biggest hit was acquiring a first round pick from Phoenix to draft Rajon Rondo and there may also be the chance to draft a another point guard if either Avery Bradley or Eric Bledose falls to them.
This is an important draft for the Celtics. If they bring their core back for another run the draft can add some needed youth. If circumstances force them to adapt their plan, getting a player to grow with Rondo would be an important step.The 19th pick is no sure thing, see below, but based on the scouting reports and mock drafts they should be able to get someone who can be useful in whatever direction they wind up taking.
LAST FIVE PICKS AT 19
2009: Jeff Teague, Atlanta
2008: JJ Hickson, Cleveland
2007: Javaris Crittenton, Lakers
2006: Quincy Douby, Sacramento
2005: Hakim Warrick, Memphis
Here’s a look at some of the players that may be available:
This would be a bit of a luxury pick since Rondo is just starting his prime, but the Celtics have lacked a true backup point guard for years. Nate Robinson could fit the bill, but he will surely draw some interest in free agency and he may not be ready to accept a lesser role at this point in his career.
Avery Bradley: After Wall goes first overall, the pickings are slim for point guards. Bradley may not even be a point, but he is advanced defensively and could step in and make an impact that way. It’s unlikely he gets down to 19, but it would be tempting to imagine him and Rondo providing 48 minutes of pressure defense.
Eric Bledsoe: Like Rondo, Bledsoe is a product of Kentucky and like Rondo he is a bit of an enigma, but that’s where the comparisons need to stop. Bledsoe played off the ball with Wall as a freshman and is a bit of an unknown. He has talent and in the right system could be a solid compliment.
The Celtics have lacked depth on the wings since James Posey left. Tony Allen fulfilled his defensive promise but will be a free agent on July 1, while Marquis Daniels never quite fit. Ainge will be looking for help here either in free agency or the draft. It’s an area of need but probably not as pressing as a big man.
At this point it seems likely that Luke Babbitt, Paul George, Gordon Hayward and Xavier Henry will be gone by the time the C’s pick. If any of them fall they would represent good value based on their projections.
James Anderson: Anderson pulled off a neat trick at Oklahoma State. He was basically the whole show offensively and yet he shot a high percentage and grades out as an efficient scorer. This bodes well for his pro career and he should be able to step in a provide offense for whoever drafts him.
Quincy Pondexter: Like Anderson, Pondexter put is an efficient scorer. He put in four years at Washington and his game is the better for it. Pondexter needs to work on his shooting. He had the ball in his hands a lot as a Huskie and it won’t work that way in the NBA.
Damion James: One of the top-rated seniors in the draft James is almost a finished product, which is both good and bad. He’s not quite big enough to be a four, but he’s got good size for a three. He’s a decent scorer and a good rebounder, but he lacks a great jump shot. He should be a solid player but what you see is likely what you will get.
Jordan Crawford: You may remember Crawford as the kid who dunked on LeBron James in summer camp or the Xavier guard who almost helped the Musketeers beat Kansas State in the Sweet 16. He’s a bit of projection pick, but he’s a good athlete and improving as a player. The question for him is can he be effective in the NBA without the ball in his hands.
Others: Dominique Jones (SG, South Florida), Grevias Vasquez (SG, Maryland).
If Rasheed Wallace does retire and if Kendrick Perkins knee surgery requires a long rehabilitation this is definitely an area of need for the Celtics. Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis are the only other big men on the roster once Shelden Williams hits free agency and they need bodies.
Even the big men at the top of the draft are projection picks so there will be no sure things at this point in the draft. But there is quantity. Here are a few that may be available.
Solomon Alabi: The Florida State center has been linked to the Celtics on a number of different mock draft boards and while he is a legitimate 7-footer who has improved every season in college he’s still raw and already 22 years old. Alabi should be able to provide a shot-blocking presence from Day One, but his offensive game needs work. His free throw percentage was almost 80 percent last season and that’s a very good sign that he can improve his shooting.
He’s not a great rebounder yet and there are concerns that he could get pushed around unless he adds weight, but he has an enormous wingspan and would be a good project for Clifford Ray.
Larry Sanders: Sanders has been all over draft boards and may not be there when the Celtics pick, but he has strong skills and developed into a very good college player at Virginia Commonwealth. Sanders isn’t as tall as the other centers but he has a long wingspan and has improved every year in school. He may turn out to be a better pro than North Carolina’s Ed Davis who is projected to go in the late lottery. Sanders would be an intriguing pickup for the Celtics.
Daniel Orton: Orton didn’t even start at Kentucky and he averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds as a reserve behind Cousins. But he is big and with the right coaching he can become an NBA center. He is the ultimate projection pick in a projection draft.
Hassan Whiteside: Might be even rawer than Orton, but at least he played at Marshall. He’s 7-feet tall and has skills, but he’s also very thin.
The Celtics have the 52nd pick in the second round.
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