2013 NBA Draft: 5 Prospects Who Make the Most Sense for the Boston Celtics

Kevin O'ConnorContributor IApril 2, 2013

2013 NBA Draft: 5 Prospects Who Make the Most Sense for the Boston Celtics

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    This offseason will be crucial for Boston Celtics' general manager Danny Ainge. The team is going through a transition period with both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce nearing retirement.

    Last draft, the Celtics took Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo with back-to-back picks. Sullinger showed a lot of promise before his back surgery sidelined him for the season, but Fab Melo has been slow to develop. I expect the Celtics will take a long look at the true centers and power forwards in this draft despite last year's selections because, let's face it, you can never have enough size.

    Rajon Rondo is the only true point guard on the Celtics. Besides that, Boston has a plethora of combo guards, including Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley.

    Bradley has not taken the strides needed this year to prove that he can be a true point guard, and his offensive play has also severely digressed since Rondo got injured. I think the Celtics will also take a look at point guards in this draft.

    The Celtics can't ignore the small forward position, either. Jeff Green is the likely starter for the future, but once Paul Pierce moves on, the team will need another player to satisfy the backup small forward position. I think they would look for a player that can bring flexibility, like Green, with the ability to play multiple positions.

    Based on the Celtics' potential draft position, which is between #15 and #24, here is is a list of players that fit Boston's needs.

    Follow me @Kevin__OConnor and let me know what prospects you'd like to see scouting reports of in future articles!

Gorgui Dieng, Center, Louisville

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    Gorgui Dieng has the body of your prototypical NBA center. Standing at 6’11” with a 7’6” wingspan, he will immediately bring a strong defensive presence to the NBA due to his athleticism and high basketball IQ on the defensive end of the floor.

    However, he has improved a lot offensively this season with Louisville, causing his draft stock to rise into the top 20.

    As a freshman, Dieng was very raw in man-to-man defense and relied purely on athleticism to make plays defensively. As a junior, he has made significant strides in that area.

    When Kevin Garnett is not on the floor, Boston’s pick-and-roll defense suffers dramatically. Garnett is one of the best of all time at defending the pick-and-roll, and from what I can tell, Dieng is an elite college player in that category. Due to Dieng’s athleticism, he has fantastic change-of-direction ability and closes fast with the ability to block shots. This season he has averaged a very respectable 2.5 blocks and 9.5 rebounds per game. 

    Dieng has also improved in defending the post. In 2009 he weighed only 187 pounds, but he has now bulked up to 245 pounds. He continued to prove himself in the NCAA tournament, with four blocks versus both Duke and Oregon. His size and length would translate well to the NBA.

    Dieng’s development can be compared to that of Serge Ibaka. Ibaka came to the NBA as a player with virtually no jump shot, but was a threat defensively from day one. Dieng isn’t nearly as explosive as Ibaka, but on the offensive end they are quite comparable.

    Like Ibaka, Dieng has improved has jump shot to the point where he consistently drains 10-16 foot jumpers. Gorgui has shot 20/24 so far in the NCAA tournament, averaging 11 points per game. If he continues to extend his range as Ibaka did, he will become even more of a threat on the offensive end.

    On the post, he is quite raw. As the embedded video shows, he can score against smaller players on the post due to his size and strength, but I'm not so sure that translates right away to the NBA. His footwork isn't bad by any means, but it needs more refining to be effective at the next level.

    Unlike Fab Melo, Dieng is ready to play immediately in the NBA. He can still make improvements offensively, but defensively he is ready to step onto the floor for an NBA team. Already at 23 years old, he is one of the older prospects in the draft, but that could be an advantage considering he has already gone through a long developmental stage at Louisville.

    If the Celtics draft Dieng, they get a defensive presence for years to come.

Isaiah Austin, Center/Power Forward, Baylor

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    Last draft, the Celtics took a defensive-minded center in Fab Melo.

    This year they may take a look at an offensive-minded center in Isaiah Austin. In his freshman year at Baylor, Austin had 12.9 points per game, shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 33 percent from three-point range. He is already extremely effective in both the post and from mid-range, with the potential of extending his range to three-point territory.

    Measuring in at 7’1” with a 7’4” wingspan, Isaiah Austin has the length you want out of a center in the NBA, but weighing it at only 220 pounds, he needs to put on muscle if he wants to be more of a threat inside.

    However, being lean isn’t always such a bad thing. He compares to Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh or Kevin Garnett in terms of his body. He might not be a banger down low, but he is fluid in his movements and can hit the outside jumper. Because of his body, he might be better served to start his career at the power forward position in the NBA.

    Isaiah Austin’s trademark move on the post is clearly something he has taken from the likes of Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki. From the baseline, he often faces up with his defender and takes a one-dribble step-back jumper. Garnett and Nowitzki have had much success with that move, and like both of them, Austin has such incredible length that his shot will almost never get blocked.

    The Baylor big man is the type of player who would likely go in the top five if he stayed in college for another two years, but at the moment he is far too raw defensively and gets pushed around too much down low to even be in that discussion.

    But Danny Ainge has shown that he has the patience to wait for a player to develop his game and body. He has taken players such as Avery Bradley and Fab Melo, who both have needed time in the developmental league in order to improve on their weaknesses. 

    While Isaiah Austin’s post defense is weak, he is a quality enforcer in the lane due to his length. He has the ability to bother shots, but I do think he can be exploited when posted up. Considering his efficiency as a rebounder and skills on the offensive end, he would make for a good developmental prospect for the Boston Celtics until Kevin Garnett retires.

Myck Kabongo, Point Guard, Texas

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    The Boston Celtics should be looking for a true point guard to back up Rajon Rondo.

    Texas Longhorns star Myck Kabongo might just fit that role. The Celtics clearly hoped that former Texas point guard Avery Bradley could play the point guard position, but he has done nothing to prove that he can manage the offensive end. Bring in Myck Kabongo, and you essentially are acquiring another player with the potential to be a player similar to Rondo.

    Kabongo is a pass first point guard, and his game most definitely fits the NBA game better than the college game. He has incredible dribbling ability, is a pinpoint passer and has shown the ability to take over games with his intangibles. The best example of this is his game from earlier this season against Oklahoma; Myck Kabongo led the Longhorns from 22 down to win the game in overtime. 

    This clip alone shows off all the positive aspects of Kabongo’s game. He showed off his defensive instincts and also drained clutch shots. In only 11 games as a sophomore he averaged 14.6 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game.

    The rebounding is what sticks out most, as it proves that he has an ability to crash the boards and isn't afraid of being in the paint. From that video you can also see that Kabongo consistently passes the ball right into a shooter’s sweet spot.

    Kabongo only played 11 games because he was suspended for 23 games for accepting impermissible benefits. For this reason he will likely have a hard decision in deciding whether to stay in college or go to the NBA. Currently he is projected to be drafted anywhere between the middle of the first round to the middle of the second.

    However, the 2014 draft is projected to be extremely strong, so a successful junior year might not do much to change his draft stock. 

    Myck Kabongo has an extremely inconsistent jump shot. Despite the clutch shots in the last clip, he still has games where he is downright horrible shooting the ball, such as his zero-of-12 performance against Texas Tech or his zero-of-five game against Kansas State.

    But it’s not just his jumper; he also needs to be a better finisher at the rim. Like Rondo, he’s relatively inconsistent with the jump shot, but Rajon has become very good at finishing at the rim. So, even when his jumper isn’t on, he can rely on that to create offense. Kabongo must improve his scoring all-around to be a great NBA point guard.

    If the Celtics choose to bring in a young point guard, I think Kabongo is the man. They might even be able to trade down in the draft and still get him closer to the end of the round. I would be hard-pressed to think they will even consider drafting a combo guard, as they have a lot of them on the roster already.

Mason Plumlee, Power Forward, Duke

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    Mason Plumlee is one of the rare college athletes that played all four years at school. One reason he may have stayed in school was the fact that he had to wait to get playing time, and it wasn’t until this season he was able to play over 30 minutes per game.

    In his senior year with Duke he averaged 17.1 points, 10 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.

    Plumlee is a good all-around player who isn’t particularly exceptional in a single category. But he isn’t weak anywhere, either. He’ll be able to carve out a role in the NBA for years because of his lack of weaknesses. He has improved drastically his senior year and has impressed scouts with his athleticism, speed and power in the paint.

    One of the concerns going into last season was his lack of range offensively. Plumlee quickly put those worries to rest by developing a nice hook shot that he puts to good use every game. His jump shot has also developed to the point where a defense has to respect it. If he continues to improve his shot, it will open up his passing and thus he will become a much stronger threat on the offensive end. 

    On the Celtics, Plumlee would be effective in pick-and-roll situations. He sets strong screens and shows very good fundamentals finishing at the rim. This would compliment a player like Jared Sullinger very well, who is better suited for pick-and-pop plays. With Garnett nearing retirement, an effective screener would be useful when you have a player that can pass as well as Rajon Rondo can.

    At 6'10" and 235 pounds, Plumlee has the body to effectively play the power forward position in the NBA. Considering both Sullinger and Plumlee are exceptional at boxing out for both offensive and defensive rebounds, the Celtics would have a very strong frontcourt in terms of rebounding if they choose to draft the Duke power forward.

    Plumlee has all the tools to be a good all-around player in the NBA. It’s hard to pinpoint any weaknesses at all. He shows good instincts and has nice athleticism as well. I would go so far to say that Mason Plumlee would be a nice, safe pick for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics if they choose to go this route.

James McAdoo, Small Forward/Power Forward, North Carolina

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    If McAdoo declared for the draft last year he most likely would’ve been a top-10 pick based on his physical tools and potential.  This year he could fall into the Boston Celtics’ laps the same way that Jared Sullinger did last year, who was projected to be a top pick back in 2011.

    McAdoo didn’t develop a whole lot his sophomore year at North Carolina. For a guy who doesn’t have the ball in his hands all the time, 2.7 turnovers per game is a bit more than you would like. He also forced up far too many contested shots.

    I do think it’s possible that the coaching staff wanted him taking a high volume of shots considering his potential. But even then, there was no development towards the end of the season.

    Despite the lack of development, McAdoo is another one of those players that has the tools to be good at virtually everything. He reminds me of Josh Smith a bit in the sense that he is an average jump shooter, but has the handles to be able to take the ball to the rim.

    He’s also a very good rebounder, averaging 7.3 for the Tar Heels this season. He has similar measurements to Josh Smith, as well as the athleticism. McAdoo is 6’9”, with a 7’1” wingspan and weight of 230 pounds. While he doesn’t have the prototypical height of a power forward, he is long enough and strong enough to battle for rebounds.

    Because of his off-the-charts athleticism and measurements, he would fit in well with the Celtics' offense of the future. The team has said that next season they want Rondo and the offense to run the floor, get up a higher volume of shots per game and be faster offensively. I believe that will lead to plays in transition and plays in the half court that would work in McAdoo’s favor.

    With a point guard like Rondo, what McAdoo currently does well could be put to good use while he develops the weak aspects of his offensive game. James McAdoo was a 44.5 percent shooter this season, in large part because of the amount of shots he forced.

    With Boston there would be no reason for him to have to take those shots. After all, he would start the year playing behind both Paul Pierce and Jeff Green at the small forward position. At power forward he could find some playing time depending on what happens with Kevin Garnett and other players on the roster.

    McAdoo has all the tools to be a great player in the NBA but needs time to grow. He could quickly find a role in the Celtics rotation if Doc Rivers chooses to take advantage of his talents, but with a year or two of grooming behind Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, I believe that he could develop to be a Josh Smith type of player.

Honorable Mentions

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    Here are five players that didn't quite make the list, but should still be on the Boston Celtics' radar going into the draft.

    Shabazz Muhammad, Shooting Guard, UCLA: If his stock continues to slip, the Boston Celtics should take a look at him. Muhammad was once thought to be a top-three selection but has shown to be a selfish player in college, averaging less than a single assist per game. However, he can put the ball in the hoop and the Celtics will need a player that can take over a game once Paul Pierce retires. Maybe Muhammad is that guy if Boston trades up or his stock slips.

    Michael Carter-Williams, Point Guard, Syracuse: As Syracuse makes its way to the Final Four, a lot of the credit can be given to the 6'6" Carter-Williams. He has averaged 13 points, 5.75 rebounds, 4.75 assists and 3.25 steals per game. The problem for Boston is that his stock may have escalated him into the top eight. But the hype may waive off as the draft approaches, settling him back into the 15 to 25 range as he was first projected.

    Glenn Robinson III, Small Forward, Michigan: After an inconsistent regular season, Glenn Robinson III has had a very strong NCAA tournament and has potential of going in the lottery. He might have leapfrogged the other prospects, such as Shabazz Muhammad, and therefore might be out of Boston’s range. But he brings loads of athleticism and potential. He has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but the consistency was not there.

    Kelly Olynyk, Center, Gonzaga: Gonzaga was a one seed in the NCAA tournament because of Olynyk's efforts alone during the regular season. He averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. If it weren't for Olynyk, Gonzaga wouldn't have been nearly the threat they were going into the tournament. He's an athletic big man that runs the floor well and would compliment Rajon Rondo's game very well.

    Giannis Adetokunbo, Small Forward, Greece: The 18 year old from Greece is one of the most interesting players in the draft. He’s an extremely raw player who has very little experience playing basketball at a high level. He has the length to play in the NBA, at 6’9” with a 7’3” wingspan, but he lacks bulk, weighing in at 196 pounds. He has shown the ability to be a star driving to the rim and has all the tools to be great defensively, but he lacks fundamentals on the offensive end and needs a lot of refining before he can be a quality NBA player.