Boston Celtics: 2014 Draft Report Card

Alright so raise your hands (or the Internet equivalent) if you were a bit disappointed that the Boston Celtics didn’t pull off something crazy last night.

That’s alright, my hand’s Internet raised as well.

It’s alright to be disappointed. Joel Embiid didn’t miraculously fall to #6. Neither did Aaron Gordon or Dante Exum, who’s been in the NBA for like 15 minutes and already trying to challenge Blake Griffin for most weirdly charismatic NBA player in those Foot Locker Commercials.

Kevin Love isn’t in a Celtics uniform. And, surprising given that first point, Rajon Rondo still is. The Celtics just stood pat with their two picks, and stayed out of the fracas.

Which, in the end, is fine. There’s still a lot of time to make a move, if that’s where Danny Ainge wants to go. Or, even more likely, the Celtics will be completely fine with riding this roster out for a season, seeing where Rajon Rondo ends up, and then entering next offseason with more cap space, a more interesting free agent market, and, likely, another lottery pick.

But enough doom and gloom! Because the two players that the Celtics did pick show a lot about the direction that the Celtics may be heading towards, and how they’ll fit into Brad Stevens’ system.

Let’s break’em down.

 

Marcus Smart

Position: Combo Guard

Build: 6’4, 220

Stats: 18.0 ppg, 4.8 apg, 5.9 rpg, 2.9 spg

You’ll Know Him From: Despite being a consensus Top-3 pick in last year’s draft, Smart decided to return to Oklahoma St. to improve on his game, which he decidedly did….and he also shoved that Texas Tech fan who allegedly was shouting racial slurs at him.

Why To Love This Pick: A couple of reasons, but let’s start with the big one. The main conversation following the Smart pick is how this will affect Rondo’s stay in Boston, as well as Avery Bradley’s.

I’m not worried. Think about it this way. When Rondo’s on the court, Smart plays the two. When Rondo’s not on the court, Smart plays the point. Easy.

And having a three guard set, all of whom are really really good defenders, that can each do different things is good for the Celtics team as a whole. Smart brings a versatility that Brad Stevens will love.

imagesBut what else does Smart bring? Toughness and competitiveness. Marcus Smart is a mean, mean man, and Celtics fans will adore him for it. Much like Tony Allen, Marcus Smart delights in tormenting opposing players on defense. He’s also a bowling ball of a player, whose combination of size and speed will make him a nuisance to defend. He’s a leader, he’s feisty, and he’ll seek out every challenge he can find.

That being said…: There are two concerns. One is Smart’s jumpshot, which, for the moment at least, Celtics fans shouldn’t worry about. Like Avery Bradley and even Rondo, with enough determination and hard work, Smart should be able to improve. And as Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress.com pointed out, Smart made 45.7% of open jump shots, but only 20.4% of contested ones. With all the pressure in the world for Marcus Smart to step in and be the leader at Oklahoma State, it’s easy to guess that he may have been forcing more shots than he should have. Once he gets smarter about the types of shots he takes, those numbers will look a lot better.

The second concern is the flopping, which, straight up, has to stop. Too often in college, Smart would put his head down, drive to the basket, and if he got touched would fall dramatically, and then scowl at the ref if he doesn’t get the call. That won’t fly with Brad Stevens or Rajon Rondo. Come in and do your job. You won’t get every call. If you want to flop, request a trade to Miami, you’ll have some company there. I’m sure this won’t continue, and has already been addressed in the pre-draft process, but Smart can’t lean on that when times get tough.

Overall Grade: I love Marcus Smart. I truly believe he was the best player available, and I’m glad they took a point guard over another power forward (as good as they were). It hurts to not get Embiid or Gordon, and I still think it may have been smarter to trade down, but for the #6, Smart was the right pick.

A-

 

James Young

Position: SG/SF
Build: 6’7, 213
Stats: 14.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, 34.0 3p% (though 42.8% in the postseason)

You’ll Know Him From: This dunk from the national title game, or his awesome hair.

Why To Love This Pick: To be honest, I was hoping that the Celtics would take Gary Harris here, but I bet that the three inch height difference may have come into play a bit.

Young will immediately become one of the better offensive players on what was an offensively challenged Celtics team. He can push Jeff Green for minutes as the starting 3 on the team (or sidle next to him in a small-ball lineup) and has considerable athletic ability. He can penetrate with the best of them, and his being left-handed is always useful.

downloadYoung’s calling card is his jumpshot, however, which is mighty pretty. Even if the numbers don’t highlight it as much (though, as I pointed out, they improved markedly by the end of the year), his stroke is refined enough that they’ll fall more regularly in time. Should the Celtics trade Jeff Green or Gerald Wallace some time in the future, the team won’t miss a step with Young.

That being said…: Young really, really struggled on defense at Kentucky. With a lot of good defensive players around him in Boston, that shouldn’t be a huge problem, and Stevens is a good enough coach to hide him.

But small forward tends to be a stacked position in the NBA. Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George…the list goes on. And even if Stevens (rightly) puts Smart or Green on those players, Young has to get better on recognizing screens and just an overall feel for the defensive game, otherwise he’ll be a liability. (This is where Gary Harris would have helped)

Overall Grade: Another solid pick, and one that fills a big need for the Celtics: a perimeter threat. He needs work on defense, and he’s still learning the intricacies of the game, but in a few years this could look like a smart choice by Danny Ainge.

B

 

The Maddening Choice To Not Get Into The Second Round

Position: ANY! ANY POSITION!
Build: Ugh
Stats: UGH
You’ll Know Him From: UGGGGGGGHHHHHHH
Why To Love This Pick: Skip.
That Being Said: Alright, I have a bone to pick with Danny Ainge.

By and large this was the most talented second round group in a while. Most of them could have been first round picks last year. You’d think, then, that teams would be reluctant to give them up.

download (1)Wrong! 8 picks were shuffled around last night in the second round alone! The 76ers had four second round picks! FOUR! What are the odds that all of those players make the team this year?

My point being, the Celtics were in a prime position to trade for or outright buy a second round pick. Their roster’s a little hazy, they have enough money to buy a pick, but not enough to lure any big free agents.

There were plenty of players that would’ve fit the team’s needs (I’ve beat the Nick Johnson drum enough, but how about Walter Tavares, Glenn Robinson III, KJ McDaniels, Joe Harris, or Cleanthony Freakin’ Early?), and to see the Celtics sit out the second round was frustrating.

Overall Grade: C-

 

 

The UDFA Pool

Position: Heavy on guards, light on impact big men
Build: See above
Stats: Most likely not impressive.

You’ll Know Them From: A pretty diverse group. You’ve got key players from Top-20 teams, high-prized recruits who never touched their potential, a few scrappy DII guys, and approximately 327 Greek players.

Why To Love These Potential Picks: Because of the depth of the draft, there were a bunch of players who you wouldn’t have thought would’ve gone undrafted. And the good news is, there are a few potential Celtics in the mix:

download (2)Big Men: The big prize, and almost certainly the first UDFA to be signed, is Florida center Patric Young. The knock on the Gator captain is his lack of a polished offensive game/jump shot and that his reach is really small for his size. But Patric Young is 100% mean, mean motor. He’s a sturdy defensive player, he’ll fight for every rebound, and he has the quickness to keep up with more athletic players. Other possibilities include Oregon’s Mike Moser, New Mexico’s Alex Kirk, or 7-5/355 behemoth Sim Bhullar.

Cult Heroes: Well there’s the other Florida Gator who coaches drool over (PG Scott Wilbekin). There’s one of the Florida Gulf Coast players who stuffed alley oop after alley oop in last year’s tourney (Chase Fieler). You’ve got one of the most underrated floor generals in college basketball (New Mexico’s Kendall Williams). You’ve got two of the most despised players in college hoops, albeit for entirely different reasons (Ole Miss’ Marhsall Henderson and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft).

And then there’s Louisville’s Luke Hancock, who’s basically the Robert Horry of college basketball. You can’t convince me that Luke Hancock can’t be some 12th man in the NBA. You can’t.

download (3)The Question Marks: This is basically everyone else, who fall in that weird space between too much of a liability to draft, but possibly not to sign. UNC’s James Michael McAdoo was a highly prized recruit who just couldn’t put it all together. Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane both had great years but are a bit on the older side (23 and 25). Oakland’s Travis Bader set the record for most three pointers made in NCAA history, but is he anything more than a gunner? And does Rutgers’ Wally Judge have anything to give besides one of the greatest names in basketball history?

You get the picture. The “silly season” isn’t over, and, once summer leagues start in earnest, there’ll almost certainly be a few more additions to this Celtics’ roster.

Overall Grade: C+

 

But what do you think? Anyone the Celtics should’ve gotten, or should still go out and get?

In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @isportspeters, and you can keep reading our Celtics coverage by Nathan Farr.

 

  • Scott

    Akil Mitchell. Univ. of Virginia. This guy played center at Virginia at 6’8 and if he was signed as a free agent he would immediately be the best defensive player on the Celtics. He is extremely athletic with great hands and feet. He scores inside the paint with both hands and extremely quick with fast twitch muscle memory. His blocks and tomahawk dunks are crowd pleasers. Joe Harris got most of the ink, but it was Akil Mitchell who rode Virginia to the ACC championship. Would love to see Mitchell do his thing for the Celtics, but to tell you the truth, Ainge only has eyes for guards, and the big men know that.

  • Scott

    If Smart and Bradley buy in to the Celtics as number 2′s, with chances for both to carry the ball, the Celtics perimeter defense and fast break immediately improves. Guys like Green, Olynyk and Sullinger need to be fitter and not expecting as much half court offense. If Smart and Rondo don’t play well off each other, then Ainge guessed wrong and the rebuild is going to take a LONG time. Players like Rondo don’t come around very often. True point guards are RARER than great centers. If you trade Rondo, the lack of players on the Celtics who can create their own shot is going to be telling. If you can get a guy like Greg Monroe in free agency it’ll be because you have Rondo getting him the ball. This team has NO center, and Ainge blew it letting Asiks be traded WITH cash to NOrleans for a stupid number one draft pick. I imagine if the game is close, the final minutes will have Smart handling the ball anyway, because he is the better freethrow shooter, but trading Rondo before knowing whether these two can mesh on the court would be another bone head Ainge move.

    • Alex Peters

      Yeah Scott, I was just as disappointed as you when Asik got picked up by New Orleans (who’s going to be DYNAMITE next to A. Davis. That frontline’s gonna be terrifying). While I agree that he’s a big step down from Rondo, I do think that Marcus Smart could be an above average PG in the NBA. Like you said, players like Rondo don’t come around every so often, which means the Celtics should be able to get a pretty good haul for him, and if so, you gotta do it rather than let him walk for nothing. But yeah, I definitely think Stevens and Ainge want to see Smart and Rondo side by side before that happens.

    • Gregory Dunkling

      The Asiks deal also puzzled me. I would have given up the second 1st round pick for him. Now it’s Monroe time.

  • Gregory Dunkling

    So what happened to the big guy they selected last year who went off to Europe?

    • Alex Peters

      True Gregory, I bet we see Colton Iverson back in summer league at the very least. I would guess that the Celtics, if they’re looking to get back into things this year, would stop at Iverson (gotta think they’ll try and find a vet big guy somewhere else too), but he could be a nice bench piece like Faverani or Stiemsma

      • Gregory Dunkling

        Still waiting to see what Danny does with Greg Monroe.

  • Gregory Dunkling

    Celtics/Pistons Trade:

    Celtics/Pistons:

    A Drummond or
    Greg Monroe and R Stuckey

    For Rondo and Jeff Green

    Both teams get what they need: Pistons gain team leadership
    and SF scoring; Celtics gain rebounding and C/PF scoring and interior defense,
    and SG scorer.

    Do the $$ work? Not
    sure, so some other players may need to be part of the deal.