The 2011 draft is coming up, and excitement (I use the term loosely) is being spurred by the recent Celtics workouts, especially with the whole group of big man prospects that the team is looking into. There are a few things to consider for this article. First, I know the team (and most of the commenters) are more excited about which FA the C's will go after, especially big name FA centers. Second, some really question the value of the draft because the question always looms: Does Doc even play rookies? Third, the draft does not have much to be excited about (as quoted from several, if not most Basketball-related sites). So where does this leave us?
With the limited moves that the Celtics could potentially make, I think this makes the draft a very important, if not indispensable, part of this offseason. There are only so much players you could sign using the MLE, the Bi-Annual, and worthy vet minimum guys. We could try filling up our roster with "veteran" guys, but we all see how that worked out late in the season (Murphy, Arroyo, Pavlovic). We could also wait for any trade but our tradeable assets aren't really that tradeable (Big Baby? Krstic?) and we'd have to do a S&T for most of them (which we don't even know will exist once the new CBA rolls out). This leaves the team a lot less options than what we'd prefer.
With that, I don't think wasting the #25 pick is an option. We'll need a player, not a name.
First thing's first is to address the age-old question: What would be better for the team -- choosing the best player available (BPA) or drafting for need?
Danny Ainge has consistently said that he'd draft the best player available. Many agree with him on this one, seeing that these "best available players" are the ones with more chances of working out with the team. If ever they don't work out, at least they're tradeable. The bad side here is that these players might not be able to crack the rotation, especially if the player thrives in a position that the team drafting him is already full at. A possible example here is if the Celtics draft a small forward when they already have Pierce (a staple starter) and Green (a guy who they're going to try and give more minutes to). The pick then might end up providing nothing for both parties.
Drafting for need, on the other hand, seems to be a less popular choice. When a team drafts for need, the bad part is you could skip potential contributors and go for someone with less credentials. Say, if the Celtics has the #25 pick in the draft, and you ask them to take the next big man available (which is hypothetically in the 2nd round), then you're actually asking to draft a second-rounder using the #25. That does not seem like a good move at all, especially considering how easier it is to trade and buy for second rounders instead of using your first-rounder for that. The good side here is that the team can potentially get a guy who they can play and potentially contribute. (Seeing as you need to be able to play to contribute. See: Avery Bradley)
Seeing this, where do the C's go? Are they going for the BPA or are they going to address the need at the frontline? Wait, are there even other options? How about we just stick with FA and the proven players? Wait, why not this:
How about we get both the Best Player Available WHO ALSO fills a need? Win-win!
Many people forget that it's not really this-or-the-other when talking of the two options. However, the chances of finding a big man (from now on, I'm assuming big man is our main need) that is more than worthy of the #25 pick is going to be a bit hard.
- Many drafts first had us drafting Jordan Williams, but his athleticism and height (6'9'' center) isn't something to write home about, and he recently fell in recent mock drafts (according to draftexpress.com, he's currently at #46).
- Or wait, how about Lucas Nogueira, the big man from Brazil who's a legit 7 footer with a 7'6'' span with incredible hops? He's currently slated to go around #26, but there's no saying how teams can easily fall in love with athletic big men and he could easily be gone by then. I forgot, he's also 225lbs for a seven-footer.
- Nikola Vucevic anyone? He's one of the tallest and heaviest at the recent combine with a 6'11'' height (might be 7) and weight around the 240-260 range. The knock on him is that he's strictly a below-the-rim player, but that might be good enough for the Celtics. Though certainly, it doesn't make us any more athletic. Or athletic. At all.
- JaJuan Johnson is a popular name, considering he has scoring abilities (a pretty fallaway jumper and occasional hook shots) but eerily, that offensive repertoire sounds familiar. I think we have KG on our team already. The good side is that he's gifted athletically, however, standing at 220lbs isn't going to help his cause, much less his not-so-stellar work on the boards.
- Justin Harper and Kenneth Faried have already been discussed in other posts here in Celticsblog.
From that list alone, the big men that can potentially be drafted near the Celtics' position at 25 are indeed intriguing. None, however, give us the home run that we probably need. And to get a home-run at 25, you'd have to be a wizard or something. Or you'd have to take a really high-reward type of player, if that even exists in this draft at 25 up. Oh wait, there is someone. Let's take a look if these measurements will intrigue you.
- 6'11'' with 260lbs. Wait, is he as athletic as that Nicola guy? Cause he seems heavier as well.
- Apparently not. He has an amazing 12 foot vertical reach. (running start, highest reach on jump) For comparison, Vukevic has a maximum vertical (how farther you can reach from your standstill position) of 25, good enough for 2 feet and 1 inch higher than he is. This guy has a maximum vertical of 33.5, letting him reach 2 feet and 9 inches higher than his standing reach...
- ...which is 9'2''.
- And this is where the good-and-bad comes along, but he, like Avery Bradley, was one of the top recruits out of high school in his day. Wait, in his day? You mean this is long ago?
- He's turning 20 years old this June. Say "20 years old" and then "Celtics". In the same sentence. Again and again and again.
- Who is this guy anyway?
I'm sure many of you have already guessed it, but it's no other than Jeremy Tyler, the guy who spent his days out of HS in Israel and Japan while seriously hurting his draft stock in the process. There's no wonder he has the elite measurements. But apparently, his time in Israel and Japan weren't as rosy as expected. In Israel, he averaged just 7mpg and got 2ppg out of it. In Japan where he has done considerably better, he is at 15 minutes per game with 10 point and 6 rebound averages. Not bad, but not necessarily other-wordly either.
Here are two nice links I've found (and I owe them so much information):
Asian Basketball Update:
(Both articles would be far more interesting than me in trying to explain his skills on the court, so I leave those two awesome writers the pleasure to convince you as well.)
What I'm contradicting is myself, however. Early on in this article, I specifically stated that there should be no reason for the Celtics to waste this pick at all. That's almost tantamount to saying that we have to get something that's more "almost sure" than "no idea" which is how Jeremy Tyler is perceived by most blogs. Not to mention, he has been perceived as a bit of a head case and one who deals with maturity issues. (Don't we all?)
However, the big thing here, and the finality of all, is that this is a low-risk, high-reward type of pick for the Celtics. It's a low-risk because it's at #25, and how many of you realistically think that a #25 pick is going to get people excited and pinning hopes on him? It's a high-reward because the guys with the athletic capabilities and legit size are things that you can't teach big men. Being one of the highly-touted out of HS also helps. It means that people actually think that he has tremendous upside. As for his head case label, I think a veteran locker room can do so much to improve that. I'm normally not a fan of drafting guys for upside alone, but his size isn't potential at all: it's there.
I guess the main point of this article is that we can draft the BPA, or we can draft for need. We can try to draft both, if we can. But then there is another option, and it's taking a flyer on someone who could make bigger waves than expected. Someone who would get playing time, someone who might be able to contribute. A win-win for both player and team.