2012 NBA Draft: Young Studs Who Would Rejuvenate Boston Celtics
It seems a foregone conclusion that the Boston Celtics "Big 3" of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will be broken up this offseason when Garnett and Allen hit the free agency market.
In the upcoming draft the Celtics have two picks in the first round (21st & 22nd overall) as well as one pick in the second round (51st overall).
The following are guys the Celtics should consider if still available, as each player can fill vacancies for a franchise looking to return to the Eastern Conference Finals.
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The draft may be the first indicator as to how the Celtics are going to handle the Garnett free agency issue. If GM Danny Ainge decides to draft a defensive, rebound-minded power forward, it could be seen as a replacement to Garnett.
Henson, having spent three seasons under Roy Williams at North Carolina, is seasoned and capable of stepping into an NBA lineup—especially with Rondo at the point.
His stats at North Carolina:
2009-2010: 5.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.6 BLK
2010-2011: 11.7 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.2 BLK
2011-2012: 13.7 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.9 BLK
Although his junior season saw a slight drop in statistics and a sprained left wrist, Henson is strong player who likely would have been a lottery pick in last year's draft had he entered it.
As a strong rebounder and shot blocker, he would be a good, young replacement for Garnett. Also, with Henson's presence around the rim, it's realistic to think Rondo could make him into an even better offensive option.
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Cunningham, a shooting guard from Oregon State, is another guy with three college seasons under his belt.
Although undersized for the NBA shooting guard position, Cunningham is an electric scorer with long range on his jump shot. His skinny frame brings to mind current scorers Monta Ellis and Lou Williams, who have both proven effective at putting the ball in the hoop.
Unfortunately, defensively Cunningham creates a small backcourt scenario with Rondo in the lineup. Cunningham is strong and quick defensively though as he spent time atop a 1-3-1 zone during his time in Corvallis under Craig Robinson.
Cunningham may not be an immediate star, but he could provide scoring bench production if the Celtics can't resign Allen.
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Buford is a strong, senior leader who is the type of player one would expect the San Antonio Spurs to draft. Although not very flashy, Buford is effective and has the body type of an NBA shooting guard.
His junior season saw him shoot exceptionally well, but after being given more ball-handling responsibilities, Buford saw his three-point percentage drop his senior year.
Buford has the potential to be a Bruce Bowen (continuing with Spurs analogies) type player as a lock-down defender and three-point specialist.
With the possible departure of Allen, Buford could serve a strong backup for whoever his replacement may end up being.
Everything said, when draft day finally does arrive, don't be surprised if the Celtics trade up in an effort to pair Rondo with a bigger name.