Although all the writers here at Red’s Army could not be more excited for the upcoming season (no, that is not a facetious statement), it never hurts to take the facts at face value. There is always a certain amount of variability when it comes to projecting teams in October, but for the most part, it is safe to assume the TD Garden will not be hosting any late-spring games in 2014. As it turns out, this may be the best option for the Celtics, as many college basketball analysts see the upcoming draft as arguably the most talent-laden of all-time. If Danny Ainge is (ironically) fortunate enough to select a top-five pick, whom should he select?
The average basketball fan has undoubtedly heard of Andrew Wiggins. The Canadian swingman recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, and should be a frontrunner for this year’s Wooden and Naismith awards as the nation’s top college player. However, for the sheer sake of argument, let’s leave Wiggins out of the picture for now. Wiggins is a definite lock to secure a top-two pick in the draft, and it seems hard to believe Brad Stevens’ squad will be that abyssmal. Yes, the roster is one of the weakest in the league, but when taking into account perennial detritus feeders such as the Bobcats, Suns, and Magic, amongst others, you almost have to believe there are worse teams out there. Therefore, seeing the freshman phenom in green next year is almost impossible.
Furthermore, the group of Celtics’ fans that want to see Rajon Rondo depart after this season may have to wait a while longer as well. The point guard depth in the 2014 draft lacks a strong sense of offensive punch, as most of the signal callers are known for their defensive prowess, such as Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, who could have been a top selection last year if not for an undeveloped offensive game. Dante Exum, the Australian combo-guard, has definite scoring capability, but drafting international prospects is always a risky scenario, especially with a high-lottery selection.
The best bet for the front office would be to select a player in the mold of a point-forward. These players, similar to Lebron James, have the physical build to play inside the paint while also taking care of the ball-handling responsibilities in special situations. One obvious choice to fill this void is Duke forward Jabari Parker. Another prodigy that made the front cover of America’s premeir sports magazine, Parker can play four positions and does not have any glaring weakness. A product of Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, Parker is used to competing against premeir competition. His playing style will remind Bostonians of Paul Pierce, although this comparison may be a slight to Parker’s enormous amount of potential.
While Parker would fit-in almost perfectly with Stevens’ offensive scheme, the most intriguing option is James Young, a freshman guard playing for John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. Young is not a household name quite yet, but a few NBA scouts say he is already the best player on the roster, which includes over five McDonald’s All-Americans. Since Andrew and his twin-brother Aaron Harrison will form the backcourt for the Wildcats, Young will shift to the 3-guard slot. If Young can make this adjustment while simultaneously adding some bulk to his frame, he should undoubtedly be Ainge’s top target. The Michigan native has the uncanny ability to score from all areas of the half-court, and his elite offensive game would quell worries every Celtics pundit has about the offense. Young has the combination of proven talent and raw, athletic potential to be the best player in the 2014 class, even over the likes of Wiggins and Parker.
When that day comes in May for the Celtics to learn their lottery fate, the front office may be gaining not only a franchise player, but also a superstar that has the ability to transcend the nature of the game for many years to come.
Follow Richard Mummolo on Twitter @Rich_Mummolo