Thursday, June 24, 2010

Draft Day: Boston Celtics

If the Warriors are a mess, the Celtics are, by comparison, a model franchise. However, a whole hell of a lot could happen this off-season. Ray Allen may have made (and missed) his last three-pointer as a Celtic. Paul Pierce could opt out of his contract and test free agency before he puts any more tread on his tires. Even Scalabrine could be gone (rumors say the Nets may be interested. Hey, if it gets you LeBron.) Only KG, Big Baby, Rondo, Perkins and Rasheed Wallace are under contract for next season, and Wallace has already indicated to Doc Rivers he will be retiring. Hell, Doc could be gone next season as well, though I doubt it.

Here is how the Boston Globe defines the team's needs:

Perkins could miss part of next season, while Rondo still doesn't have a true backup. So help in the middle, as well as at the point guard position, are the team's top two priorities. If Allen or Pierce leave, the Celtics will be in need of a good, young scorer. And let's not forget that the Celtics have very little salary cap flexibility, so the player they draft must be able to step in and contribute right away. No pressure, right?

I agree with most of this. I would like to see the Cs go for a center or a combo guard who can score. My guess is Tony Allen played well enough in the playoffs to make the Celtics take him back and he might sign for less with them than he would anyone else. Nate Robinson? Probably gone despite the Shrek and Donkey sideshow we all loved. If this is how it goes down, they will need someone who can man the point and hit shots. I actually think the Celtics will resign Ray Allen. I believe he wants to stay and will play for less than he could get on the market. He has a few good years left in him. Think Reggie Miller in his mid- to late-30s. The Celtics could use that so long as they don't have to pay market price.

Essentially, the Celtics need to build their team around Rajon Rondo. This means they need guys who can shoot and score. The only need that trumps this is interior defense. For this reason I like the idea of the Celtics moving down in the draft. Check this rumor from ESPN's TrueHoop:

Boston is considering two offers for its No. 19 pick, one from Memphis and one from New Jersey, a source with knowledge of the selection told Wednesday night. The Celtics are mulling over an offer from Memphis for the Grizzlies No. 25 and 28 picks while the Nets are looking at shipping the No. 27 pick in the first round and No. 31 in the second round to the Celtics for No. 19. A source close to the Celtics said earlier Wednesday that general manager Danny Ainge was looking to move No. 19 because he wasn’t enamored with the possible selections at that position.

The Grizzlies trade is the one to go for, though it will cost more as the Nets' second round pick would not come with a guaranteed contract.

 The Globe featured a number of players in their list of potential future Celtics. I found it a tad optimistic: Paul George and Gordon Hayward sure to be gone by the 18th pick. No way Indiana can let local white boy hero get past them and George has been a fast riser in all mocks I have seen.

Here are a few players not listed by the Globe that I could live with seeing in Celtic green and who would be around near the end of the first round:

Tiny Gallon: First, he has the best name in the draft. Even more so when you find out he is 6-10, 300 pounds. He played for Oklahoma and is an absolute load down low. He has excellent moves, a good mid-range shot and reminds some scouts of Glen Davis, only bigger. Well, if that comparison holds, I would take it. Fact is he is not as fleet of foot as Big Baby but is a better rebounder and would be even harder to push off the block. On the Celtics you can be assured that he will be pushed to achieve the best level of fitness of his life. The idea of a similarly-skilled, bigger Big Baby gets me fired up. He would almost certainly be available with either the 25th or 28th picks. Did I mention he hates backboards?

Armon Johnson: A combo guard from Nevada who can play either point or shooting guard. I like him as Rondo's back up. He is a lefty, quick, strong and has the size of an NBA point guard at 6-3, 190 lbs. He is an excellent athlete with three years of experience at the college level. Similar to Nate he is a fearless player who will drive the ball on bigger players and his strength allows him to finish. He is not a pure point guard but working with Rondo could help him develop better vision. Even Nate Robinson showed improved passing once he moved from the Knicks to the Celtics, so this isn't that farfetched a notion. He will be around late in the first round. Most mocks have him going early in the second round.

Hasan Whiteside: An elite shotblocker who averaged 5.4 blocks in just 26.1 minutes per game as a freshman for the Marshall Thundering Herd. He should not be coming out this season. He could use another year or two to learn some post moves as well as how to pass the ball. Shooting free throws would help too as he hit just 40% of his attempts from the line. Still, if the Celtics are worried about Perk's ability to come back, Whiteside could be a big help at one end of the floor. His name typically appears in the mid-20s of most mocks I have seen, so he should be there if the Celtics want him.

If the Celtics keep their pick at #18, I would like to see them grab one of James Anderson, shooting guard from Oklahoma State who is a great scorer; Damion Jones, forward from Texas with great toughness and rebounding despite being a bit small for a power forward; or best of all, roll the dice with Eric Bledsoe. He's the elite point guard John Wall bounced to shooting guard at Kentucky. Kid is raw as hell but is an incredible athlete and the Celtics have had some luck with underrated, speedy point guards from Kentucky.

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