Boston Celtics: 5 Ways New Draft Picks Will Have a Positive Impact in Boston
With Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen free agents, the Big Three era looked to be over and the draft looked to be the first vestige of beginning anew in Boston.
Armed with back-to-back picks at No. 21 and No. 22 in the first round, the Celtics took Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger and Syracuse center Fab Melo. After that, the team nabbed Melo's teammate, forward Kris Joseph, in the second round.
However, as free agency began, the Celtics' plan shifted from a new beginning to the return of the old garb. Garnett re-signed with the team and Jason Terry took the mid-level to play the role of Allen's replacement for the next three years.
With a team competing for playoff position in place, how will the rookies make a positive impact? Read through to find out.
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Last season, the Celtics' average player age was 28.99, which made them the fourth oldest team in the NBA.
Even worse, that ranking jumps up to 30.66 when weighing the average for minutes played (ranking No. 2).
New signing Jason Terry isn't making Boston any younger, either.
Fortunately, the Celtics' three draft picks, Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger and Syracuse frontcourt-mates Fab Melo and Kris Joseph, are all guys who should be able to step in and contribute to dropping that average significantly.
Low Post Scoring
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For all of the doubts about Jared Sullinger's lower-back health, there is little-to-no doubt about his pure scoring ability in the post.
Sullinger, who plays mostly below the rim, has developed an array of moves down low and is probably the most polished offensive big man in the entire draft.
For all his greatness, Kevin Garnett has become a mostly above-post jump shooter and the team has no other basket-oriented forwards on the roster.
Nabbing Sullinger addresses a huge weakness for the Celtics.
Low Post Defense
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While Sullinger is known as a bit of a liability on the defensive end, pick No. 22 Fab Melo should be able to step in and provide the team with the interior defensive presence it has missed since dealing Kendrick Perkins.
Garnett did a wonderful job filling the void at center this past season, but Melo is a physical seven-foot presence who averaged nearly three blocks per game last season at Syracuse.
Melo is unbelievably raw for a 22-year-old, but should step in and provide an intimidating presence for 15-20 minutes per night as a rookie.
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As is the case with most older teams, the Celtics sorely lacked athleticism outside of guards Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley this past season.
While Sullinger is yet another below-the-rim player for Boston, Syracuse products Melo and Kris Joseph are both explosively athletic for their positions.
Joseph is a hard-nosed, high-motor guy who could step in and defend the perimeter well at the NBA level, and we've already established Melo's impending post presence.
In a league that emphasizes athleticism more than any other, getting a couple of leapers is never a bad thing.
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For all NBA teams, the biggest benefit of the draft is being able to bring in young guys who will hopefully be part of your franchise fabric for years to come.
The second is cost effectiveness. The rookie wage scale, established to quell the rising cost of rookie contracts in the mid-1990s, has become a godsend for teams looking to bring in young talent while still being able to afford their older players.
For the Celtics, the scale's slotting system dictates for the life of their rookie contracts, first-round picks Sullinger and Melo will only make between $1.1 million and $1.3 million per season. If either player turns out to be anything near what Boston expects, that's indentured servantry for NBA players.