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.
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.
But 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.
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.
Young’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.
The Maddening Choice To Not Get Into The Second Round
Position: ANY! ANY POSITION!
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.
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:
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.
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?