Every draft there are winners and losers, and this year is no different. One team that improved greatly from this draft was the Celtics who owned the 6th and the 17th pick. This was their highest pick since 2007 when they selected Jeff Green 5th overall.
The Boston Celtics became more “young” and played it “smart” with their two first round selections. Marcus Smart and James Young add depth and toughness to a front court that has quite a bit of uncertainty. The Celtics are surely trying to build towards the future while Rajon Rondo says he wants to only play for a winning team and has been on the trading block for quite some time. The other guards on their roster are Avery Bradley (who is a respectable player), Phil Pressley, Keith Bogans, and Jerryd Bayless, who are all far from their prime.
In terms of the sixth overall selection, the Boston Celtics had to decide between three players. The choice would either be Smart, or one of the standout power forwards still on the board (Julius Randle or Noah Vonleh). The Celtics needed help all over but they decided in favor of Smart because he has the best chance to become an instant scoring threat. Boston finished in the bottom five in team scoring last year and wanted to add some instant firepower with their first pick.
Marcus Smart had some maturity issues at Oklahoma State, but is a kind young man and looks to become a real role model in the NBA. Despite his red flags, Smart is one of the most NBA ready players in this draft. He is built like a linebacker standing 6-foot-4 all muscle and also has a longer reach than fellow point guard Dante Exum, who was selected one pick before him.
As spectacular as Smart was on offense, he might have been even more consistent on the defensive side of the ball. He was able to lockdown anyone at the collegian level and was able to create steals thanks to his extra large hands and his competitiveness. As a coach you would love having a player like Smart on your team because he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Look for him to make an immediate impact this year for Boston.
Boston got a lot of value from their second pick when they selected the Kentucky wing James Young. He is still very unpolished while being one of the youngest players in the draft but the big upside is there.
Young is a prototypical wing player with one of the smoothest jumpers in this years draft class. We have all witnessed his high level of athleticism in this year’s tournament as it seemed like he had a monster dunk in almost every game. Young needs to improve his consistency but can eventually develop into a top scorer for this Celtics team.
Young has very good size, but seems to struggle on the defensive end of the ball. Over the next few years he should grow into his body and become more efficient defensively. Boston is a great fit for him because they were an above average defensive team last year and would be able to pick up the slack if Young struggles early.
Overall I give Boston an A- with their two selections. They added some depth to their depleted bench who struggled to score last year. I can see both Smart and Young becoming effective starters for this team in the future. Smart has the better chance of cracking the starting lineup initially, but look for both players to play a big role for the Celtics this year.