With the NBA draft fast approaching (and the Celtics offseason starting earlier than most of us had expected/hoped for) it is time to take a look ahead at the offseason. This offseason figures to be one of the more interesting in recent memory, given the plethora of options available to the Celtics; the biggest of which being the decision to rebuild or to make one more push with the current core. Many of us assume that the Celtics will look to make a youth movement and rebuild on the fly around a core of Rondo, Bradley, and the other young guns.
If that is indeed the approach, this years draft figures to be one of the most important for the Celtics. Holding the 21st and 22nd picks in the draft, the Celtics have plenty of options as to what they can do with those picks, so lets take a look at the options available to Boston and who we may see in green for 2012/13.
Keep the picks:
If the Celtics choose to keep both picks they have plenty of options at 21 and 22. This years draft is widely considered to be one of the deepest in recent years, which certainly leads us to believe the Celtics will keep the picks as they will be able to get essentially the same value at 21 as they would at say 15, so why bother move up? If the Celtics do indeed select at 21 and 22 lets take a look at the possibilities for those picks.
Perry Jones III
A Baylor product, Jones was the best player on a fairly strong Baylor team this season. Many assumed Jones would be a top 5 talent in all of the preseason polls, but there are concerns that he will have trouble transitioning to the pro game. He has the natural talent to succeed in the NBA, at 6’11’’ he figures to be a Power Forward at the pro level. The best case scenario for Jones is a more agile version of Josh Smith. The biggest concern is that in a season where he was relied upon as the go-to guy, he took a step back developmentally. One more season of college ball to prove he was a leader would have assured a top five pick, now his biggest knock is whether or not he can be the guy to build around.
The Celtics may find Fab Melo available to them at 22, and for a team that desperately needs a Center, Melo could be the guy. He isn’t quite ready for the pro game and would benefit more from riding the bench for a few years to adapt and learn, but if the Celtics are indeed rebuilding, there couldn’t be a better situation for Melo than Boston. Melo is a defensive animal (which fits greatly with Coach Rivers). A shot blocking machine, Melo would give the Celtics the interior defender that they lacked for much of the season in 2012. His biggest concern is his ability on offense, but with Rajon Rondo feeding him the rock, he should be just fine. A true 7 footer, Melo has the ability to become a future Defensive Player of the Year, as long as he keeps his head on straight he will be a welcome sight for Celtics fans.
Few have heard the name Royce White before…..get to know him. As a huge Texas Longhorns fan, White has been on my television screen on more than one occasion, playing for Iowa State. White is a clutch, all around animal. He can bang the boards, he can score, he is a decent defender, and he is a truly gifted passer. White could become an impact starter on any team. He will likely be available at 21 because of his off court problems mainly his anxiety disorder that has been widely publicized. Not too concerned about anxiety disorders given the fact that Ray Allen suffers from a similar disorder and he made quite a name for himself didn’t he? White could develop into a slightly better version of San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonhard, which would be a steal at 21.
What may be an option for Boston is the “Bellichick” approach to this years draft. A deep draft, they may be able to find the same level of talent they are looking for later in the first round that they would have found at 21 or 22. Trading down in the draft would bring about a few more interesting names, including previously mentioned Royce White and Fab Melo if they continue to fall in the draft. Along with those guys lets take a look at two names of interest later in the first round that may end up in green:
A Michigan State product, Green lead the Spartans to a nice season. I personally like Green’s game. If Brandon Bass were to leave, Green would be a terrific replacement for Bass. Green is 6’8’’ and 236 lbs. He is a very good rebounder, a strong defender and typically makes the smart play on offense. Green is a leader, which would be great to have on a rebuilding team, but I see his ceiling as being no more than a slight upgrade from Glen Davis.
Another name that only hardcore hoops fans know about. Taylor could be the next Tony Allen. A little known prospect coming out of a mediocre basketball school, but turns out to be a solid pro who hangs his hat on one core skill: Defense. Taylor is a tenacious perimeter defender, as 6’7’’ Taylor figures to be a three guard, and with Doc Rivers at the helm, the Celtics love to add defensive minded players. Taylor figures to be a lock down defender at the pro level, which would give the Celtics three young lock down defenders in Bradley, Rondo, and Taylor, add the potential of a Garnett return, a Pierce return, a potential Jeff Green return (former Big East Defensive Player of the Year) and the development of JuJuan Johnson (also former Big East Player of the Year) the Celtics could have the strongest defense in the league with the addition of Taylor.
Move UP in the draft
The last option in the draft would be to package both picks to move up in the draft and acquire a top end talent. While this may be unlikely there are two players that jump out as potential Celtics higher up on the board. Lets take a look:
Zeller is a 6’10’’ PF/C who would be a great addition to contribute right out of the gate for the Celtics. Zeller can run, and can finish around the rim, of all the players previewed here, Zeller has the biggest potential to turn into a bust. Many scouts are high on Zeller, but I certainly wouldn’t trade up in the draft to get Zeller based on his height given the talent available later in the draft.
Leonard is a legitimate 7 footer from Illinois. Many had him in the middle of the first round, but combine workouts have seen his stock rise steadily by the day. He now figures to be a top 12 pick, which given his skill set is a bit high for what he is. He is incomplete as a player, but has size and athleticism which teams value greatly. Leonard could develop into a solid everyday Center, or he could turn into Patrick O’Bryant….not worth the risk.