The Boston Celtics are currently in the midst of a first-round playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks. Other than the fact that they are a competitive team, this also means that the Celtics have been removed from the lottery section of next month's NBA Draft.
As it stands right now, the Celtics will receive the Clippers' first-round pick which will give the Celtics back-to-back picks in the latter half of the first round. This gives Boston the ability to immediately get younger and fill the holes left by departing veterans Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
While the Celtics could still sign them for cheap money, it is unlikely that either player would take a hometown discount at this juncture. Also coming off the Celtics books will be Rasheed Wallace (yeah, they are still paying him), Jermaine O'Neal, Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling, Shaquille O'Neal (yeah, still paying him too), Mickael Pietrus, Marquis Daniels, E'Twaun Moore, Ryan Hollins and Sean Williams.
For the sake of argument, let's just say Wilcox, Moore and Pietrus all resign for next season. That gives Boston nine players under contract and a ton of cap space to play with.
So what are Boston's needs and what should they address in the Draft?
Need No. 1 - Swingman Scorer
With Allen leaving in free agency, Avery Bradley will likely remain in the starting backcourt with Rajon Rondo. Paul Pierce will remain at the small forward spot, but we all know he is not getting any younger. The Celtics must address this position early in the Draft, and can do so with one of their two first-round picks.
The Solution - Jeff Taylor (Vanderbilt)
Taylor is projected (by Chad Ford) to fall to the 25th pick, meaning that he should be there in the first round for the Celtics to scoop up. Taylor is 6'7" and 225 pounds and can defend multiple positions— which Doc will love—and is an elite three-point shooter—which Rondo will love.
The Wrong Pick - Royce White (Iowa State)
Everyone seems to think the Celtics should pick White, but there are several factors that make him unappealing at this juncture:
- An anxiety disorder and a fear of flying.
- Only played one season of college basketball but is not a one-and-done talent.
- At 6'8" and 240 pounds, he is basically Brandon Bass without the experience.
Picking White would land them another player in the mold of Glen Davis or Bass and would not help the Celtics get to the next level.
Need No. 2 - Defensive Center
With Kevin Garnett out the door, the best option the Celtics have at center is Greg Stiemsma. While Stiemsma has been very good this year, the Celtics' position in the first round offers them the opportunity to address this issue early on.
The Solution - Fab Melo (Syracuse)
Forget about Melo's academic issues. Forget about his offensive inabilities. Melo is a true seven-footer with a defensive presence that cannot be taught. The 2008 Champions got their identity from Kendrick Perkins and KG defending the rim, and Melo would serve to fill the hole left by Perkins in the Jeff Green trade.
The Wrong Pick - Anyone under 6'10"
With two picks in the first round, the Celtics need to address their needs with the best player or option available. The fact that they will be back-to-back selections makes it even more important that they get the two players that fit their needs the best. Drafting anyone under 6'10" will not serve them well at all.
Need No. 3 - Depth
So with the two selections in the first round, the Celtics now have 12 players on the active roster. They have two point guards (Rondo, Moore), five wing players (Bradley, Pierce, Taylor, Pietrus and Green) and five interior players (Bass, Stiemsma, Johnson, Wilcox and Melo).
Bradley has the flexibility to play the point, which means point guard is not a need; they will be set on the wings and the interior will look much better with Melo in the picture. At this stage, the Celtics need to simply take the best player available.
The Solution - Quincy Acy (Baylor)
While this is not exactly a game-changing pick, the 51st selection rarely is. Acy is a 6'6" power forward who is flexible enough to play at the small forward if Doc wants to go big. He came out a bit too early, but he would likely end up in D-League off the bat anyway.
Here we have the best and worst options for the Boston Celtics in the 2012 NBA Draft. Let's just hope that they can make the best of the cards they've been dealt.
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