5 Draft Prospects Guaranteed to Interest the Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics did not win Tuesday's NBA draft lottery. Instead, they moved back one slot to the sixth pick. The team didn't walk out with their best-case scenario in the fold, but the pool of talent in this field still makes where they're picking quite ideal.
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid will be off the board, but here are five talented prospects who could still be available for Boston to choose from. They may not be franchise-altering pieces, but a few of these players have All-Star Games etched out in their future.
Here's what Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn shortly after the results were revealed:
It was a little disappointing, we were hopeful for something better. I don’t think anyone’s going to come in and change the face of our franchise out of the gate but I do think there’s some good quality in this draft. This isn’t much different than ’07 [when the Celtics picked fifth]. There’s less value in the sixth pick than the one or two or three picks, but we’re still going to make the best choice.
Here they are, ranked by Boston's presumed interest level.
5. Noah Vonleh
Noah Vonleh's comparisons to Chris Bosh should have people more excited than they are. Bosh is headed to the Hall of Fame someday and is a consistent All-Star who can thrive at power forward or as a stretch 5.
Vonleh is only 18 years old and connected on 16 of the 33 three-pointers he attempted last season playing for Indiana. He also led his college team with 41 blocks, and brings with him to the NBA a 37-inch vertical jump and a 7'4" wingspan. These are workable features.
His potential to do damage on both ends his huge, but the only question Boston has is whether he can have success as a legitimate rim protector at the next level. If he can, the Celtics could have a wonderful frontcourt complement to Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk.
4. Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart is a general wild card, especially for a Celtics team that already appears set in the backcourt. Rajon Rondo is the franchise cornerstone and Avery Bradley is a restricted free agent this summer.
These two have experience playing together, possess complementary skill sets and are improving. But Rondo enters free agency next summer, and if the Celtics re-sign Bradley, it’ll be on a deal that strips him of any trade value.
A lot can change very quickly, and by drafting Smart, a Dwyane Wade/Russell Westbrook hybrid, the Celtics will have much more breathing room as they deal with Rondo and Bradley's future.
Marcus Smart also bench pressed 185 pounds 19 times, tied for 3rd best at the NBA Combine this year. One of best ever among PGs historically— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2014
Smart is a bulky two-way point guard who attacks the rim, rebounds the ball and knows how to make others around him better. He shot just 29.9 percent on threes last season (taking over five attempts per game) but finished above 50 percent on two-pointers. His shot is an overblown worry.
If Boston drafts Smart, either Rondo or Bradley will likely be out the door sooner than later, but that's pending how much money both are asking for, this summer and next.
3. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is the perfect complementary piece. He can guard four positions (maybe all five once he gets stronger), rebound, finish in transition, run the floor, pass and drive.
Gordon is only 18 and already has raw athleticism that will allow him to impact NBA games long before he truly knows how to control his body.
Concerns about his jump shot are premature, too. Chandler Parsons and Kawhi Leonard are two examples of athletic college phenoms who didn’t learn how to shoot until they entered the NBA. There’s no reason to think Gordon won’t follow that same path.
As the league gears towards more perimeter-oriented scoring, every contender needs strong defense on the wing. Gordon can be Boston’s muscular padlock for the next 10 years.
2. Julius Randle
Julius Randle is the most realistic value Boston can land with the sixth pick. He’s an incredibly talented offensive weapon who has multiple All-Star Games in his future.
He's a load to handle down low and led the NCAA in double-doubles last season. Physically, he measured to be about the same size as Kevin Love at the combine, which puts to rest the theory that his short arms will hinder any ability to dominate the glass at the professional level.
Randle can score from quite a few areas of the court. He's agile and powerful, a devastating combination for someone with his size and strength. The Celtics already have Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk slotted at power forward, but drafting a talent like Randle would probably mean one of those two needs to go.
1. Dante Exum
Similar to Marcus Smart, the Celtics will make a major statement if they draft Dante Exum with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley in tow.
It’s highly unlikely the Australian point guard and star-in-the-making drops down to No. 6 (the Orlando Magic won’t let him slide by), but if he does, Boston will pounce. It could mean the end of Bradley in a Celtics uniform, but adding a secondary ball-handler who can one day become the primary franchise player is ideal.
Exum can be that player. He’s 6’6” with a 6’9” wingspan, according to Draft Express. He can score, make plays and bother opposing point guards on the defensive end with his severe length. As an off-the-ball weapon beside Rondo, Exum would be perfect.
As an Australian insurance policy, he's the best player Boston can get.
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