Boston Celtic fans everywhere were hoping that, with one of their worst seasons and one of the best prospective drafts in recent memory, their team would get a top three pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid are three of the best prospects in some time and every team in the lottery wanted a shot at them. When lottery night came however, the Boston Celtics found themselves three spots away from their goal with the No. 6 pick.
Luckily the draft has a lot of depth and the Celtics need help across the roster. One good thing about the Celtics is that there is no particular strong or weak position on the roster, allowing the team to just draft the best player available.
One area that the Celtics do need help in is down low because they do not have a big center. With Embiid being the only true center prospect in the draft worthy of a top-ten selection, it is likely that the Celtics will not find an exceptional seven-footer in this draft.
This does not mean that the team will not draft a big player. There is particular depth at the power forward position in this year’s draft class and the best player available may very well be one.
Here is a breakdown of one player at each position on the floor who the Celtics may be able to draft with their first pick.
Point Guard: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6’4”, 220 lbs.
Don’t worry, Rajon Rondo lovers: This guy won’t come in and take his spot. Marcus Smart is still a viable option to select this early in the draft though, and if Rondo does not come back to full form, Smart could take over.
Smart can either be the 1- or 2-guard. The biggest problem in his game is that no one knows which one he would be better suited at. He has the size of a point guard but has the skill set of a 2-guard.
Smart is a great defensive player and a very solid offensive player. If I were to compare him to an NBA player, it would be Dwayne Wade. Smart's game is obviously a long way away from that of Wade’s, but Wade was not a top-three selection coming out of college either.
Shooting Guard: Dante Exum, Australia, 6’6”, 196 lbs.
Dante Exum is yet another tweener, but better suited to the 2 than Smart, so we will give this position to Exum. Exum is a very tall guard out of Australia.
He is a smart player and seems very mature. He has good handles on his way to the rim and has great touch on his inside shot.
Exum would bring a level of athleticism that the Celtics do not currently have. It seems that the rumor mill has swirled Exum into the very top tier of the draft, and many, like Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe, do not expect him to make it to the Boston Celtics selection:
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid & Dante Exum all won't work out for Celtics. They all expect to be gone by the 6th overall pick.— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) May 28, 2014
Small Forward: Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6’8”, 225 lbs.
One of the best players in recent memory, Doug McDermott is still one of the least talked-about prospects in this draft class.
McDermott was a 3-time All-American since his sophomore season, owns the NCAA record for most double-digit scoring games with 135, is fifth in NCAA history in points scored, and in a year where the top of the draft is supposed to be the best in years, McDermott was named National Player of the Year.
He is fundamentally sound and is also an underrated athlete. At the NBA Draft Combine, McDermott measured in with 36.5” max vertical jump. This was higher than that of Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Australia’s Dante Exum.
The Celtics could definitely use a scoring threat like McDermott, especially from the perimeter. Kevin O'Connor from WEEI said, “Brad Stevens values players who can space the floor and shoot the 3, and no player in this draft does that better than McDermott.”
Power Forward: Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6’9, 210 lbs.
After Andrew Wiggins, the next best athlete in the draft is Aaron Gordon.
Gordon is a physical specimen that can play multiple positions on the floor. His athleticism mixed with his size makes him a phenomenal defender and shot blocker. He can defend the 3, 4 or 5 in the NBA.
The Celtics have good big men, but they do not have shot blockers or great athletes. Aaron Gordon could provide both.
According to Jay King of Masslive, Aaron Gordon seems to be fond of Boston head coach Brad Stevens as well: “Real, real good guy. Loves basketball. Good heart. Enjoys the game, enjoys coaching, enjoys seeing the game,” Gordon said. “Just one of the guys that I would like to be around."
Center: Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6’10”, 240 lbs.
Noah Vonleh is definitely better suited at the power forward position, but he is the only player outside of Embiid (who will have already been selected) who is feasibly draftable with the sixth pick to play center.
The Celtics need players who can stretch the floor and that is Vonleh’s forte. He has ridiculous length with over a seven-foot wingspan and the biggest hands of any player.
Vonleh’s length makes him capable of playing the 5, but he has more of a Chris Bosh type of game with a great shot from the perimeter. This year in college, Vonleh shot 48.5 percent from 3-point range.
Celtics told Noah Vonleh they want him to come in for a workout and they've been watching him since high school. (Haverhill native)— Jay King (@ByJayKing) May 16, 2014
The Boston Celtics are clearly interested in Vonleh, and with his versatility, he could develop into one of the top players from this class.