Friday, June 25, 2010

Celtics Draft: Before and After

With the 19th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft the Boston Celtics select...Avery Bradley from the University of Texas.

And most Celtics fans went, "Who?" The unsurprising part is that most Celtics fans knew exactly who Luke Harangody was when he was selected in the second round: "Big white guy with the flat top. A little round in the chin. Plays for the Irish. Hard worker. Good scorer. Love him."

Even dedicated Celtics bloggers were a bit unsure after Ainge's selection of Bradley:

Bradley should fit in well with the Celtics. He is an extremely athletic combo guard who plays ridiculous defense. While his size, 6-3, 185 lbs, makes him a point guard, he is not known for breaking defenders down off the dribble or creating for teammates. On the other hand, he has freakish, orangutan arms and is capable of guarding taller shooting guards. My concerns are the lack of playmaking and ballhandling skills and the fact that he shot just 43.2% from the field in his lone college season. It should be noted he shot an acceptable 37.5% from three-point land, indicating he has range if not consistency. What gives me confidence is his athleticism (37-inch plus vertical) and his love and talent for defense.

Smell that vertical.

Danny said he was sure Bradley would be gone before the 19th pick and most mock drafts agreed with him. For posterity I thought I would post a few mocks' takes on where they thought Bradley would be taken.


NBA FanHouse: 13th (Toronto Raptors)
"The Raptors need everything but a sweet-shooting center at this point, with Jose Calderon have joined Hedo Turkoglu in disfavor. Bradley reportedly had a positive workout in T-Dot, and while his NBA development is a real question mark, the signs are positive enough for a team to pick him up in the mid-first. Maybe Bargnani can teach him how to shoot."

Sports Illustrated: 18th (Oklahoma City Thunder)
"With Dwyane Wade handling the ball most of the time, the Heat need a Derek Fisher-like shooter at point guard. That makes Bradley their man. Driving to the basket isn't his strength, but he has three-point range and will defend, which is another priority for the Heat. He's not a pass-first point guard, but they can live with his limitations."

NBA Soup:  18th (Oklahoma City Thunder)
"Many mocks have Bradley dropping out of the first round due to his erratic play, small stature, and lack of a true position. While all of those knocks are fairly warranted, it’s also quite clear that Bradley is young, athletic, and oozing with potential. If he’s able to come off the bench as a role player in his first season, he could shine."

Hoops Addict: 13th (Toronto Raptors)
"He’s the closest thing to Monta Ellis I’ve seen in the college game, an unreal athlete, with a soft touch, incredible body control, long range jumper, basically he’s got it all. He’s going to be one of these guys that we hear NBA scouts go back and forth on non-stop before the draft. He’s not a true point guard, which means that I believe he’s going to be the guy more than anyone else that needs to find a team that’s the right “fit,” for him. The absolute ideal circumstance would be Sacramento, where he won’t have to be a ball-handler and playmaker, go off of Tyreke Evans and guard true point guards."

The Hoop Doctors: 13th (Toronto Raptors)
"After coming out of HS as the #1 prospect in the entire ‘09 class, Bradley showed signs of his tremendous upside as a future NBA player. Problem was he was widely inconsistent. Even though he was a prime candidate of improving his stock by returning for his sophomore season, Bradley decided to remain in this year’s draft even though he still has a shaky jumpshot. On the upside, he showed excellent ability to get to the rim, is in his element in the open floor, and has the potential to be an elite level defender. Toronto desperately needs a point guard and Bradley has the potential to develop into a good one. Comparison: Monta Ellis"

I love the last two, despite the differing opinions on Bradley's jumpshot. Clearly, his athleticism is elite and the Monta Ellis comparisons are swoonerific. One thing, having watched a lot of Monta Ellis here in Oakland, Ellis is not a balls out defender like Bradley is. That's right, Avery Bradley plays defense with his balls hanging from his shorts.

In case you are left thinking all the draft nerds had Bradley going either 13th or 18th (though most really did) here are a few more:

San Francisco Chronicle: 25th (Memphis Grizzlies)

Boston Herald: 20th (San Antonio Spurs)

Draftology: 15th (Milwaukee Bucks) 19th (Boston Celtics) These guys and Inside Hoops got it right.

The morning-after consensus is the Celtics did a good job this draft. Some were glowing with praise, some were more lukewarm; I found no one who thought they shanked it. Here is a sampling of opinions and grades:

Ball Don't Lie: (A) Talk about drafting for need, the Celtics turned an afterthought draft (Doc Rivers is a week and a half removed from admitting that he didn't know when his team would be drafting in the first round, and we don't blame him for that) into an actual depth-provider by finding a legitimate minutes-sopper in Bradley (a standout defender to back up Rajon Rondo) and potential frontcourt rebound-helper in Harangody.

NBA Fanhouse: (A) Avery Bradley, who could have gone as high as No. 10, slid down to the Celtics at No. 19. Boston also picked up a decent frontcourt rotation option in Notre Dame's Luke Harangody late in the second. Based on Bradley's potential as a Ray Allen replacement down the line and the fact that the Harangody pick led to a cavalcade of hilarious Brian Scalabrine-related tweets, this is a win for Boston.

Sports Illustrated: (B-) Danny Ainge has had a bit of a man-crush on Avery Bradley for weeks, hoping the explosive combo guard would get to the Celtics at No. 19. While most believed Ainge was targeting a big man to fill in for the injured Kendrick Perkins or the just-retired Rasheed Wallace, Ainge was always after the best player available. Bradley was it. Bradley can back up Rajon Rondo and his slashing ability gives Boston a much-needed punch on what will likely be a revamped bench. Luke Harangody was an overachiever in college, but if he turns out to be a good practice player, Boston will keep him around. (B) There's a lot to like about Bradley teaming with Rajon Rondo in the future. Defensively, you couldn't come up with a much better backcourt. It was important for Bradley to land on a team that didn't need him to play point full-time but would also give him the opportunity to learn the position. Harangody is a value along the same lines as Glen Davis and Leon Powe of previous drafts – a highly productive college player who should be better than Brian Scalabrine, for what that's worth. Neither was a “great” pick, but both were solid and earn a solid grade.

CelticsBlog has a typically well-informed take on the draft that's worth checking out.

Harangody is interesting to me on a number of levels. First, the obvious doofus white guy appeal, and his struggle to show he's not just another big white stiff. Second, the guy really can score and rebound. He is far from a plus leaper but anyone who put up close to 20 points and 10 rebounds throughout his Big East career has some ability. And let's not forget, Danny kills the second round. Last, in the city of Boston, do not overlook the appeal of a player who looks like much of the fanbase.

"He looks just like Marky from down the way."

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