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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Team’s biggest needs

06.23.14 at 10:28 am ET
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With Celtics fans focused on the fantasy of acquiring players like Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, it’€™s easy to forget the plentiful attractive options in the 2014 NBA draft. With two first-round selections and the versatility to move or add more picks, fans should still be excited about the chance of building through the draft.

That’€™s one reason I published my 2014 NBA Draft Guide as a means of putting all of my research into one convenient 115-page package for fans and readers to download. This article includes a more in-depth look at what’€™s included for each club in the “€œteam needs”€ section of the book, but watch the video above to find out what else is included in the guide, which can be downloaded by clicking here.

The Celtics roster needs a lot of work this summer, but the three biggest draft needs are a rim protector, a sharpshooter and a go-to scorer. Below are five options for each need that could be addressed with either the No. 6 or 17 pick. Click on each player’s name to discover a more complete draft profile.

NO. 6 PICK: RIM PROTECTORS

Joel Embiid FR C Kansas
– Aaron Gordon FR F Arizona

Danny Ainge has said countless times that rim protection is a primary need this offseason, and fortunately the draft offers a handful of options. Embiid’s injury could mean that arguably the best prospect in the draft falls into their lap. While this could be a gift from the basketball gods or a curse, it’€™ll be difficult to pass on Embiid because of his presence as a low-post scorer, top-notch defender and even potentially as a 3-point shooter.

Perhaps a safer choice at six is Gordon, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Arizona. Even though he isn’€™t a “rim protector”€ in the traditional sense, his outstanding perimeter defense, keen off-ball rotations and ability to switch on the pick-and-roll brings value in preventing ball-handlers from penetrating the lane in the first place.

NO. 17 PICK: RIM PROTECTORS

– Clint Capela F/C France
– Jusuf Nurkic C Bosnia
– Walter Tavares C Cape Verdean

The late first round presents three intriguing international prospect options. Nurkic is raw and chubby, but has a body similar to a young Marc Gasol. He’€™s a big-bodied center with incredibly quick feet for his size, giving him the potential to step out and hedge on the pick-and-roll. Capela is a bouncy shot blocker and rebounder, but his basketball IQ must improve drastically before he can play in the NBA. As raw as they are, Tavares takes the cake. If Boston adds a late first-rounder, he’€™d be an ideal selection based on his upside. At 7-foot-3 with a reported 92.5-inch wingspan and 118-inch standing reach, he’€™d immediately become one of the largest players in the entire league.

NO. 6 PICK: SHARPSHOOTERS

– Doug McDermott SR F Creighton
 Nik Stauskas SO G Michigan

Brad Stevens‘€™ motion offense requires pristine 3-point shooting, yet the Celtics ranked 27th in the NBA last year at 33.3 percent. If the fix isn’€™t coming from within, there are loads of options in this year’€™s crop of prospects, and the two most prominent choices are projected lottery picks McDermott and Stauskas.

McDermott is the NCAA‘€™s fifth all-time leading scorer with 3,150 points, and more than 25 percent of them came from beyond the arc. With absolutely perfect mechanics and savvy movement off-ball, McDermott would be a perfect fit in Stevens’€™ offense. The same can be said for Stauskas, who lit it up at 44.2 percent from 3 last season. And he’€™s not just a sharpshooter, also bringing intriguing ball-handling skills as a potential combo guard.

NO. 17 PICK: SHARPSHOOTERS

P.J. Hairston SG Texas Legends
 Rodney Hood SO F Duke
– Shabazz Napier SR G UConn

Hairston and Hood provide a pair of wing options. Hairston played last season in the D-League, shooting 35.8 percent from 3. He’€™s excellent shooting off the dribble or the catch, and probably would’€™ve had a much higher percentage had his shot selection been better. Hood played second fiddle to teammate Jabari Parker, but still showed skills as a pure shooter with an excellent high release. If Celtics fans get their wish, Napier will be in green€ next year. The UConn product ended his collegiate career as a champion, shooting a career high 40.5 percent from 3. He improved each year despite shouldering a heavier load on offense, a sign that he has yet to plateau.

NO. 6 PICK: GO-TO SCORER

– Jabari Parker FR F Duke
– Dante Exum G Australia
– Marcus Smart PG Oklahoma State

It’€™s unfortunate that Ainge probably won’€™t get a chance to select Parker unless he trades up, but you never know what can happen on draft night (see: Embiid, Joel), which is why he’€™s still listed as a possibility. Parker would be the ideal choice, as he’ll almost certainly be a quality scorer in the NBA. With skills that compare to Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce, he could very well reach that level.

Besides Parker, nearly every other potential go-to scorer in this year’€™s draft needs work on his perimeter jumper. Exum has the quickest first step in the draft and exceptional ball-handling ability for his age, but will need to improve his technique if he wants to reach his potential. Smart could also be another option, since he’€™s an absolute bulldog with the ball and gets to the rim at will. If he fixes his mechanics, he could very well be a lethal threat on offense.

NO. 17 PICK: GO-TO SCORER

– Dario Saric F Croatia
– T.J. Warren SO F N.C. State 

According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, Saric agreed to a three-year deal with Turkish team Anadolu Efes that would prevent him from joining an NBA roster for at least two seasons, meaning he could drop to the Celtics at 17. Saric’s playmaking ability out of the pick-and-roll could eventually bring more than scoring, but his 31.8 percent shooting from 3 must also improve drastically over the next couple years.

Likewise, Warren is one of the few potential go-to scorers who could be available in the middle of the first round. He’€™s a magician with the ball and can score anywhere within 15 feet, but his range is limited. In order to reach his full potential, Warren needs a reliable 3-point shot.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Aaron Gordon, Boston Celtics, Dante Exum
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