NBA Draft 2011: 10 Potential First-Round Picks for Boston Celtics

Zachary Stanley@@SFLeaguesCorrespondent IJune 8, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: 10 Potential First-Round Picks for Boston Celtics

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    The Boston Celtics are a year or two away from entering a total rebuilding phase. On June 23, Danny Ainge and crew will have a chance to jump-start the process. 

    With Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce on a ticking clock, the Celtics still executed the Kendrick Perkins trade, moving the organization in a completely different direction. 

    On the surface, the acquisition of Jeff Green looks like the beginning of a youth movement, but the Celtics chose to get rid of rookies Luke Harangody and Semih Erden on the same day. 

    Danny Ainge has always voiced his belief in picking the best player available, which always makes Boston's picks quite interesting. 

    Although this year's class isn't all that heavy at the top, there is depth throughout, particularly in terms of mid-major potential.

    The Celtics will be selecting 25th overall. 

Marshon Brooks

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    Position: SG 

    School: Providence 

    Size: 6'5”, 195 lbs 

    Last season's stats: 24.6 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.5 steals, 1.2 blocks 

    Currently projected as the Celtics first-round pick at Draft Express, Marshon Brooks is a talented shooting guard that knows how to create his own shot. 

    As a senior, Brooks was second in the nation in scoring and adds a relatively scrappy mentality to his repertoire. 

    Brooks has been compared to Jordan Crawford, Nick Young and Kobe Bryant (loosely). 

    Brooks shot 48 percent at Providence and has many positive attributes from an athleticism standpoint. 

    Brooks' attitude has been speculated upon (not that I mind a bit of an ego), but it's hard to believe that Doc Rivers wouldn't be able to whip a rookie into shape. 

    If Brooks played to abilities in Boston, the Celtics would cement their future at the position after Ray Allen.  

Jordan Williams

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    Position: C 

    School: Maryland 

    Size: 6'9”, 250 lbs 

    Last season's stats: 16.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG 

    Jordan Williams is another player whose stats have improved over the course of his college career. 

    Although he is undersized, Williams makes up for it with strength and length (think a lighter Sean May or a taller Glen Davis). 

    Williams is a fantastic rebounder, and has improved his offensive game in the post. Footwork, passing, hands and a feel for the basket are all assets to his game. 

    Williams has to work on the struggles that come with an all-around lack of athleticism. 

    Williams lacks explosiveness and needs to gain some quickness in order to keep up at the next level. 

    Freshman and sophomores that enter the draft often need some significant polishing. Williams is no different. 

    Glen Davis is now a free agent, making the prospect of Williams slightly more interesting.

Markieff Morris

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    Position: PF 

    School: Kansas 

    Size: 6'9” 241 lbs 

    Last season's stats: 13.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG 

    Though not predicted to go as high as his brother, Markieff Morris is still predicted to be picked fairly high in the draft.

    Still, he is worth talking about. 

    Morris has the kind of physical game that would greatly benefit the Celtics. 

    “Any role that a team needs me to play, you know what I mean?” Morris said to Draft Express about his future role. “I really want to get better in all aspects. I'm ready to contribute to a team whenever my number is called, and I just want to work hard.” 

    Morris has the kind of game that could get him on the court quickly in the NBA. He is a tenacious defender with an underrated inside-out game. 

    Morris led his team in rebounds and is already strong enough to get physical against the league's big men. 

    Morris would be the perfect match for the Celtics—a player that can come right in and contribute while working as a building block for the future.

Lucas Noguiera

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    Position: C 

    School: International 

    Size: 7'0”, 200 lbs 

    It's easy to understand why Lucas Noguiera might be in Boston's wheelhouse. 

    At 7'0”, the 18-year-old international sensation has dazzled scouts with his athleticism. 

    With significant length and excellent balance, Noguiera can get up and down the court quickly with the kind of speed rarely seen in such a tall player. 

    Noguiera has pop in his step, which makes him lively on the boards. At the same time, those rebounding capabilities will likely be tempered by his lack of strength if he doesn't make efforts to bulk up. 

    Noguiera also needs to make progress on the offensive side of the ball. 

    As usual, picking Noguiera includes all the wild-card elements that come with foreign talent.  

Klay Thompson

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    Position: SG 

    School: Washington State 

    Size: 6'7”, 206 lbs

    Last season's stats: 21.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.7 APG 

    Along with Marshon Brooks, Klay Thompson is one of the few players in this year's draft that can straight-up shoot. 

    It's no coincidence that few of the players on this list are SG's, but Thompson miraculously falling to the Celtics would probably be too good for Danny Ainge to pass up. 

    Thompson has evolved his shot into one that can be used as a rapid trigger off screens and in catch-and-shoot situations. 

    Another option for the future beyond Ray Allen, Thompson lacks the athleticism to consistently create his own shot. 

    Thompson will look to round his game as his career presses on. With his currently limited skill set, screen-happy Boston wouldn't be a bad place to land.   

Nikola Vucevic

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    Position: C 

    School: USC 

    Size: 6'10”, 260 lbs 

    Last season's stats: 17.1 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.6 blocks 

    Nikola Vucevic is one of the most improved players on the list, increasing his scoring from 10.7 PPG to 17.1 PPG in the last season. 

    Vucevic averaged a double-double in 2010-11 and has gradually become an offensive force as his play has evolved. 

    While at USC, Vucevic spent a great deal of time working on his jumper, and he is continuously improving his footwork in the post. 

    Vucevic has exhibited a degree of toughness and fight that can rarely be developed without a college career. 

    Vucevic needs to improve his off-the-dribble abilities and suffers from a Bargnani/Okur-like lack of athleticism. 

    Notice this trend of centers?

JaJuan Johnson

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    Position: PF 

    School: Purdue 

    Size: 6'10”, 215

    Last season's stats: 23.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.3 Blocks 

    As a graduating senior in a competitive conference, JaJuan Johnson has the experience needed to get on the court sooner, rather than later. 

    Johnson moves well around the basket and has the type of inside-out game that makes him a threat at any spot on the court. 

    Johnson is athletic and a constant threat running the floor. 

    Thanks to his length, Johnson is tough to score on and can also get the tough boards. 

    Not surprisingly, Johnson is one of many young players that must put on muscle and become more physical to compete at the professional level.

Jeremy Tyler

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    Position: C 

    School: International 

    Size: 6'11”, 260 lbs 

    Jeremy Tyler is one of the few players that take the questionable route of International play instead of signing with a college team. 

    Despite a drop in draft position, Tyler is a high-flying big-man that can beat opponents down the court. 

    Tyler made strides with his shot, rebounding and blocking. 

    Tyler had the talent to be one of the draft's top players, but his choice to go overseas has made him a wild card with huge upside. 

    The Celtics have been known to examine every option heading into the draft, and Tyler is the type of player that might be worth a flier (Chris Webber comparisons out of high school aren't discouraging, either).  

Justin Harper

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    Position: PF 

    School: Richmond 

    Size: 6'9”, 228 lbs 

    Last season's stats: 17.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 blocks 

    Justin Harper is one of the few players mentioned that brings a polished game to the table. 

    Harper is solid from mid-range and beyond, shooting 45 percent from deep in his final season as a Spider. 

    Harper improved every season at Richmond but lacks the type of body the league is accustomed to seeing at the power forward spot.

    Harper put himself on the radar after leading his team to both the Atlantic 10 title and the Sweet 16, defeating both Vanderbilt and Morehead State. 

    Harper's success in the NBA may depend on how teams want to use him. 

    The Celtics invited Harper to a workout in Boston on June 1.

Kenneth Faried

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    Position: Power Forward 

    School: Morehead State 

    Size: 6'7”, 225 lbs 

    Last season's stats: 17.3 PPG, 14.5 RPG, 2.3 blocks, 1.9 steals 

    Speaking of Morehead State, Kenneth Faried was a huge reason for his team nearly beating out Harper's Spiders to reach the Sweet 16 last season. 

    Faried has been one of the more discussed options for the Celtics, and his rebounding numbers have to call to fans looking for some late-round highway robbery. 

    Faried led the nation in rebounding and finished his career as the NCAA's all-time leading rebounder (1,673 boards). 

    Faried would be a nice boost off the bench for an aging team and could be an option to replace Glen Davis (should the Celtics not re-sign him). 

    Faried has been criticized for being too small, but the instinct he has shown on the boards is an intangible worth a second look. 

    Faried's greatest weakness is that he is a garbage man. He has worked to advance his offensive game, but he is progressing slowly. 

    Still, there is always room for a guy that plays with defense as their top priority.