The Celtics 2014 season went just about as well as expected, with the team missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007, but one of the greatest parts about professional sports is the continuous hope for next year. The Boston faithful have seen how quickly a team can go from woeful to terrific and will be hoping to take the first step with the upcoming 2014 draft.
Just a little bit of a disclaimer, this list is taking into account the 20 players who I personally think fits into the Celtics’ system the best. So without further background here is my Boston Celtics NBA draft big board:
1. Jabari Parker, SF, Freshman, Duke
Often times scouts refer to a player as having “great potential” and that is exactly what scouts are saying about Andrew Wiggins. Well what they see as potential, I see as a lack of polish in his game, therefore I think the best possible pick for the Celtics would be the most NBA ready player which is Parker. Parker has perfect size to play the NBA small forward spot and ample athleticism. Parker’s well rounded inside-outside game would make Jeff Green expendable, and likely be an upgrade offensively after some game experience.
2. Joel Embiid, C, Freshman, Kansas
The Celtics are just plain small. Whether its Sullinger (6’9”) Bass (6’8”) or even Humphries (6’9”) the team is lacking a true big man. Input the true seven footer out of Kansas at 7’0” and 250 pounds and the Celtics have their biggest player in a long time. Size isn’t everything in the NBA but Embiid’s rim protecting ability and presence under the hoop on the offensive end could surely help the team if he is healthy.
3. Andrew Wiggins, SF, Freshman, Kansas
Although like I previously stated Wiggins is a little more of a project then I would like at the SF position he is an elite athlete, and elite athletes in the NBA have a way of making an impact. Wiggins will likely be more of a perimeter scorer in his early years in the NBA until he gains strength but there is no doubt that his ability to run the floor and get hot in a hurry are real. The Celtics could use a go too scorer to develop a team around.
4. Marcus Smart, PG, Sophomore, Oklahoma State
I have Smart higher in my Celtics big board than most, and with the constant chance that Rondo will be traded or lost to free agency, Smart provides a dynamic play maker that has shown he can run a team despite some character issues. Even with Rondo still on the team Smart provides a unique blend of talent off the bench that should make everyone on the second unit more effective.
5. Noah Vonleh, PF, Freshman, Indiana
Although Vonleh doesn’t fit the Celtics needs for a true center or go too scorer he does immediately make the team more athletic. The 6’10” power forward has the potential to be a beast on the glass averaging 9 rebounds a game in college while taking advantage of his 7+ foot wingspan. Vonleh would provide an athletic rebounding option that could hit the offensive glass and run the floor on the fast break, while also being an upgrade over Brandon “no pass” Bass.
6. Aaron Gordon, SF, Freshman, Arizona
For every timid tendency that Jeff Green has at power forward, Aaron Gordon has an earth shattering dunk. Gordon would be an optimum replacement at the hybrid 3-4 spot on the Celtics roster and as a supreme athlete has room to grow. He isn’t a consistent shooter yet but neither was Kawhi Leonard. If the C’s pick Gordon he will immediately be an athleticism upgrade, and should thrive playing with more creative NBA passers.
7. Dante Exum, PG/SG, Age 18, Australia
The Australian combo guard sounds like a revelation if you listen to reports, but I’m not buying which is why I have home listed as the seventh best prospect for the Celtics this draft. If Exum pans out he could end up being an elite offensive player both scoring and passing the ball, but European players fail far too much.
8. Gary Harris, SG, Sophomore, Michigan State
The Boston Celtics were downright abysmal on offense this past season second to last in field goal percentage and bottom five in total scoring. Harris is slightly undersized but his ability to create shots in the half court would be more than welcome in Boston, and only 19 he has time to smooth out the inconsistencies in his game as he grows with the team.
9. Nik Stauskas, SG, Sophomore, Michigan
Although not the biggest name in a talented draft, Stauskas is a legitimate scoring option on the perimeter. With a smooth stroke shooting over 40% from three his sophomore season, Stauskas has a chance to step in immediately as a bench shooter and progressively learn the game. With good length for the two at 6’6” Stauskas would provide an immediate upgrade on the second unit and could be a replacement for Bradley if he walks in free agency.
10. James Young, SG/SF, Freshman, Kentucky
At this point in the Celtics rebuilding journey they need young talent with high potential. Young will likely be a mid-late round pick that if he falls to the Celtics would be a tremendous value. Young has potential as a scorer shooting a reasonable 35%at Kentucky and has all of the athleticism to be a wing man in the NBA. More of a project than most prospects at this point, his potential is simply too high to drop any farther.
11. Doug McDermott, SF, Senior, Creighton
A fantastic career in college has NBA scouts sure that he will have a career as a shooter in the NBA, however McDermott’s inability to man up athletic NBA small forwards cost him on my draft board. I would love if he fell to the second pick for the Celtics, unfortunately the hype likely has him getting drafted between the Celtics two picks.
12. T.J. Warren, SF, Sophomore, N.C. State
Another wing player Warren is a unique talent off the dribble. taking players one v one he exhibits a wide variety of moves to get free and make shots. In an NBA where games often times come down to isolation battles Warren could make a huge impact, however where he struggles is with consistency in the half court and on defense. Shooting below 30% from three this season, 69% from the line, and without the quickest feet on defense Warren definitely has some holes to fill. Still his potential in his young age is very good.
13. Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Sophomore, Kentucky
Another young Kentucky prospect this time its Cauley-Stein, the true seven footer. As a big man Cauley-Stein isn’t a great low post scorer, rebounder, or defender but he is a supreme athlete for a big in the NBA. With great leaping ability and athleticism to run the floor, Cauley-Stein is a gamble that most teams will be willing to take in the mid-late first round. The hope being he develops his shot blocking and defense into a Tyson Chandler type player after a few seasons of minimal playing time.
14. Dario Saric, SF/PF, 19, Croatia
The first international to get on the list is the likely Saric. Playing in a classic PF hybrid role in Europe Saric is averaging 16+ points and 9+ rebounds per game but as usual with European players little is known about how it will translate to the NBA. As a ball handling forward Saric has terrific potential and could develop into a consistent scorer with his size.
15. Clint Capela, PF, 19, Switzerland
Capela reminds me a lot of the many skinny forwards to come out over the past few seasons (Think John Henson). Capela is a bouncy athlete that could protect the rim for the Celtics, something they haven’t had in years, and also could finish on the break and off the pick and roll especially playing with a guy like Rondo Although unlikely he will see NBA time soon. A project pick that could pay off down the road as Capela’s basketball IQ rises and he bulks up.
16. Adreian Payne , PF, Senior, Michigan St
I would love to have a player like Lousiville’s Montrezl Harrell around this spot on the list but with him returning to school the next best thing is Payne. Payne may not have the most flashy stats and at 23 he drops because of his age. However at 6’1’0” 240+ he has an NBA ready body and can bring great energy to the Celtics. Most importantly he has a smooth stroke shooting 84% from the line and 38% from three in college making him a perfect stretch bigman prospect. Payne likely would be a target for the Celtics second first round pick and the tea should be happy if they get him there.
17. Rodney Hood, SF, Sophomore, Duke
Shooters are necessary in the NBA and Rodney hood at the least is a perimeter shot maker, Shooting and admirable 42% from three this season Hood has potential to become a knock down shooter and at 6’8” he can develop to make the tougher mid range shots and finish at the hoop. A guy considered to have less potential however teams pretty much know what they are getting with him as a prospect.
18. P.J. Hairston, SG, 21, Texas Legands
Scoring is the name of the game at two guard for the most part in the modern NBA and that’s exactly what P.J. Hairston’s game focuses around. Shooting 35%from three and taking almost 6 free throws a game Hairston has all the tools to score. The big question for Hairston is his character after being dismissed from the Tar Heels team last season. Another gamble in the late first that could pay off if he keeps his character in check.
19. Kyle Anderson, SF, Sophomore, UCLA
The 6’9” forward out of UCLA is known more for his slow composed style of play and “lack” of athleticism that it often times overshadows his talent. I personally love Anderson and think the Celtics should draft him as I wrote in a previous article. His slow style of play is overshadowed in my mind by his great passing (6.5 ast/g) three point shooting (48%) and amazing wingspan (7’3”). That terrific length should allow him to be acceptable on defense and finish around the rim, while his smooth stroke and great IQ make him an offensive threat.
20. Jerami Grant, SF, Sophomore , Syracuse
Grant is a peculiar prospect because he lacks many offensive skills. Not the best ball handler or shooter Grant has great athleticism and defensive potential. If he can learn to contribute on offense he could be an elite wing defender, but if he can’t score in the NBA his minutes will always be limited.
Julius Randle, PF, Freshman, Kentucky
It’s hard to leave a top ten talent out of the top twenty for the Celtics, but he simply has no place on the Celtics’ roster. He is a solid athlete with good rebounding instinct but his weaknesses and lack of fit noted here make him unworthy of being a true option in the draft in my opinion.
Tyler Ennis, PG, Freshman, Syracuse
Ennis is a solid talent who knows the game, but without top tier potential it doesn’t make sense for the Celtics to draft Ennis. Ennis likely won’t be good enough to replace Rondo or a big enough upgrade to surpass Pressy/a free agent and therefore doesn’t warrant a first round pick.
Cover photo credit: popsugar.com