NBA Draft 2011: Who Should the Boston Celtics Target?
Paul Pierce is the youngest of the "Big Three" in Beantown, and he turns 34 this October. That being said, the Celts can use all the young talent they can get to provide them with the best potential for continued success. With the announcement that Shaquille O'Neal has retired, combined with the fact that Jermaine O'Neal might very well do the same, it is very difficult to see the Celtics drafting anything but PF/C's in the first round.
Let's take a look at several prospects who could contribute to that success from both rounds of the draft.
Round 1: Kenneth Faried (Morehead State)
Kenneth Faried is known probably for his motor more than anything else. He excels at rebounding and post play, but at 6'7", he doesn't have the height to make up for what the Celtics are lacking.
Can his incredible energy and reach make up for his lack of height at the next level?
Combine those factors with his ability to turn rebounds into points, and it seems like he could be what the Celtics needed most last season.
Round 1: Trey Thompkins (Georgia)
Trey Thompkins is 6'10", which might be slightly smaller than the 6'11" Kevin Garnett. But at close to 240 lbs., he is a much bigger body.
Thompkins is a much better shooter than Faried and as a playmaker, is much harder to predict. Though his rebounding is not as astounding as that of Faried and he isn't a great shot-blocker, he has a major edge in ball-handling and a slight edge in inside defending.
All things considered, he offers much more of an impact on both sides of the ball compared to Faried.
Round 1: JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
JaJuan Johnson is another one of those high motor guys. He can drain shots on the open floor and averaged more than two blocks per game. He doesn't have ideal ball-handling skills or the bulk to start at PF in the NBA, but there is already word he has been bulking up.
Johnson doesn't have the immediate impact potential of Thompkins or Faried, but if he can keep the weight he is adding, as well as add more inside moves to his repertoire, he has a much higher ceiling.
Round 1: Justin Harper (Richmond)
Justin Harper, in my opinion, is the most underrated player coming out in the entire draft.
He is a phenomenal shooter and can hit three-pointers like a SF/SG (48 percent). At 6'9", he wouldn't get a look at center, but coming off the bench behind Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett, he could be an absolute animal. His defense is solid, but not on the same level as Thompkins or Faried, and his biggest criticisms are that he doesn't have the bulk to play PF, and he didn't face elite competition at Richmond.
To all those who doubt his ability, I will say he led the Richmond Spiders to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Kansas. In that game, Harper had 22 points and 13 rebounds.
That being said, Harper is my go-to-guy for the Boston Celtics in the first round.
Round 2: Keith Benson (Oakland)
Keith Benson has the same problems as Justin Harper to overcome—he needs to add weight, and he needs to prove he can make an impact against better competition.
That being said though, Benson has great intensity and rebounds very well. He has a good mid-range shot and is most known offensively for his dunking ability.
His toughness, combined with athleticism and scoring ability, should be make him a more than capable backup while he is bulking up.
Round 2: Scotty Hopson (Tennessee)
Scotty Hopson has the skill to contribute immediately by using his mid-range jump shot and dunking ability. His 6'7" frame can stand to add more weight, which is a major criticism, but his reach can aid him in being a better defender than most his size in the NBA. His passing and ball-handling needs some work as well.
Since he will not be an immediate starter for the Celtics, Hopson can stand to bulk up while playing behind the likes of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
Round 2: Cory Joseph (Texas)
Cory Joseph has excellent shooting range and ball-handling ability. He can drive to the basket and finish with both hands, but his biggest problem will be his defensive impact. Joseph also only averages three assists per game as a point guard, which means he would probably translate to a shooting guard in the NBA.
The Celtics can always use scorers off the bench. Joseph's range and ability could benefit the Celtics the way Nate Robinson did, but at 6'3", his size is much more beneficial defensively.
Round 2: Shelvin Mack (Butler)
Although Shelvin Mack is only 6'2", he can play both PG/SG, which is something the Celtics valued in Rajon Rondo when they first brought him to Boston. Mack is a strong defender and can drive to the basket well, while also maintaining an above average jump shot. He doesn't seem to have the natural passing ability of a PG, so he would more than likely be used as a back-up to Ray Allen.
Many of the criticisms Mack is receiving leading up to the draft are the same criticisms Rondo received when the Celtics made him their starting PG.
Mack will more than likely be gone by the 55th pick, but if he is there, the Celtics have to take him. His value off the bench both offensively and defensively will be unmatched by anyone else available at that point in the draft.