Rivers (left) and Ainge (right) have some work to do during this season's draft.
The 2013 NBA Draft will be welcomed with open arms by the Boston Celtics.
That’s because it offers the embattled team a chance for redemption. More specifically, it provides the Celtics an opportunity to plug up their gaping holes.
If this season was any indicator, the team certainly has its work cut out for it.
At 41-40, Boston put together its worst record since Kevin Garnett arrived in 2007. Not to mention, the team’s first-round exit was also its quickest postseason departure in that same span.
Sure, several key injuries plagued the Celtics throughout the year. But their problems stem from a lot more than just that.
Luckily, with the No. 16 pick in the draft, Boston will have a chance to address at least one of those issues.
Here are the team’s most glaring needs and options that will help solve them.
Backup Point Guard
Who do the Celtics have at point guard after Rajon Rondo?
After the 27-year-old went down with a season-ending injury, Leandro Barbosa picked up some of the slack, playing decently at the position. However, after he too went down for the remainder of the year, Boston was lost.
Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry all auditioned for the role. Unfortunately, each experiment resulted in a failure.
So it came as no surprise that the Celtics ranked in the bottom five in point guard production in points (17.6 PPG), assists (7.8 APG) and efficiency rating (20.2).
It got so bad that small forward Paul Pierce actually took over the ball-handling and distribution duties. As if being the team’s go-to scorer wasn’t taxing enough for the 35-year-old.
Thankfully, Boston will have Rondo back at some point next season. But when he returns, he’s not going to be able to play all 48 minutes every night. The team won’t have the services of Barbosa either, after trading him to the Washington Wizards last year.
It’s imperative that the Celtics find a player who can offer Rondo a rest without a major drop in production.
Possible Pick: Shane Larkin, 5’11”, PG (Miami)
Although undersized, Larking would give the team a point guard who is fast and has a good eye for the passing lanes. He also possesses a great three-point shot (40.6 percent) and has the ability to attack the hoop and finish strong.
“Nightmare” is the best word to sum up Bradley’s offensive struggles this season.
Over 50 games, Bradley averaged just 9.2 points and 2.1 assists in 28.7 minutes a night. He also shot 40.2 percent from the field and 31.7 percent from beyond the arc. It only got worse in the playoffs, where Bradley’s average dropped to 6.7 points per game.
No matter how elite his defense is, there’s no excuse for the porous offensive production.
But it’s not like he’s gotten any help from his teammates. Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford aren’t necessarily the poster children of consistency.
Altogether, Boston’s shooting guards rank 26th in points (17.5 PPG) and 24th in efficiency (16.8).
There’s no doubt that GM Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers will keep their faith in Bradley next season. However, some friendly competition from another guard could be just what is necessary to help Bradley re-discover his shooting touch.
Besides, every team could use a spark plug off the bench.
Possible Pick: Archie Goodwin, 6’5”, SG (Kentucky)
Goodwin would give the Celtics an extremely athletic and explosive guard who can blow past defenders with his first step. He has demonstrated the ability to drive the lane aggressively and finish through contact. Goodwin, typically compared to Tyreke Evans, also can play either guard position successfully.
Boston will definitely be in the market for a big man or two this summer.
Throughout the year, the team was consistently poor at power forward. The Celtics struggled to get much from the position on both ends of the floor. The team’s power forwards ranked 22nd in points (19.2 PPG), 27th in rebounding (8.9 RPG) and 22nd in efficiency (22.6).
Sure, Jeff Green can pour in the points, but his rebounding (3.9 RPG) is nothing to brag about. Brandon Bass—the starting power forward—is just underwhelming all around (8.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG).
On the season, Boston was second worst in the league in rebounds, while finishing dead last in second-chance points allowed.
It’s a situation that will only get worse if Garnett and his 7.8 rebounds per game decide to leave town over the summer.
Shavlik Randolph and Jared Sullinger will definitely offer the Celtics help inside the paint next season. But the team will need a lot more than that.
Adding a player through the draft would be a wise decision.
Possible Pick: Jeff Withey, 7’0”, C (Kansas)
If Boston wants interior toughness, Withey is the answer. The 23-year-old averaged 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks over 30.9 minutes per game during his senior year. For a big man, Withey rarely gets into foul trouble and has great mobility. He’s also got a post game that has tremendous potential.
Summing It All Up
Ainge hasn’t had this much pressure leading up to a draft in quite some time.
However, this year’s draft can lay the foundation on whether the Celtics will be a contender over the next couple of years or if they’ll need a lot more time than that. There’s a lot riding on it.
At the same time, if Boston fails to come away with a successful pick, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s not the only option the team has to address its issues.
There’s still free agency and even the trade deadline further down the road.
Either way, it’s important for Celtics supporters to have faith in Ainge and Co. No matter what their decision is.
After all, they’re the ones who get paid the big bucks to make the tough decisions.
Wouldn’t have it any other way.
All stats used in this article are courtesy of Hoopsstats.com