The Boston Celtics season came to an end a few weeks ago, and now the eyes of Celtics faithful turn to the offseason. The first order of business during the offseason is the NBA Draft. The Celtics hold the 21st and 22nd picks in the upcoming draft, and there have been rumors that Boston might wind up giving up those two picks in order to move up towards the tail end of the lottery or in the 15, 16 or 17 range.
While those decisions remain to be seen, the Celtics organization has remained hard at work looking at potential players to take in the draft or select to play for its two NBA Summer League teams.
Recently, I had the chance to discuss the draft with NBADraftBlog's Ed Isaacson. Ed runs a phenomenal site, and I would encourage you to check it out for all of your player profile needs leading up to the draft as well as team previews when the draft is over and the college basketball season rolls around again. Ed was kind enough to detail a number of different scenarios Boston could consider during the upcoming draft.
EI: With the future of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett up in the air, it may be time for the Celtics to start adding pieces to compliment Pierce and Rondo. Looking at players who are definitely coming back, point guard seems to be the only position where Boston couldn't use an upgrade or depth. It is tough to pinpoint a "type" of player they should go for, because Rondo's style of play is not that of a typical point guard, it is tough to project for many players what kind of role they would have in Boston's offense. Ideally, they are looking for 2 young players who with Rondo and Bradley could be part of the foundation for years to come.
JZ: The Celtics seem to be considering a variety of paths to rebuilding. One of those paths could involve packaging the two first-round picks for an already established player or to move up in the draft (at the 15-16-17 or so range). Should Boston follow through with that plan, as they are rumored to be considering, who do you think they should be or would be targeting?
EI: I don't know what level of player they would be able to get for two picks at #20 and #21, so I don't think off-hand that would be a smart move without knowing what they have in mind. Also, I don't think that moving the two picks for 1 pick just a few slots up is going to do them much good. The level of talent in this draft is pretty level in the 16-24 range, so unless they can move into the Top 10, I think they are better off getting 2 quality players instead of 1. One scenario which could make sense is if they see someone sliding out of the lottery, than they may consider making a deal with Houston for one of their 2 picks at 14 or 16. Unfortunately, the Celtics don't have many other assets to include in a deal to entice teams.
JZ: Multiple reports suggest that Boston has worked out Fab Melo already and the Celtics were not very impressed with what he showed off during that workout. Is Melo the type of center Boston should consider taking with one of those two first-round picks, or would you suggest otherwise?
EI: I think Melo may have a bright future in the NBA, but I think taking him at #20 or #21 is a reach for the Celtics. I'm not sure if the Celtics' style of play, especially Rondo's, needs a player like Melo who will likely develop into a classic back-to-the-basket center. I think they need to look for athletic players who can run the floor with Rondo and let him play at a pace he prefers. As for centers, I don't think they will find that kind of option whose range falls within 20-21.
JZ: A name that Boston seems to be interested in is Moe Harkless. What can you tell Celtics fans about Harkless.
EI: While Harkless is still very early in his development as a player, he is the kind of player I had in mind when describing who the Celtics should be looking at. Harkless can run the floor well, can finish around the rim and is developing his ability to knock down mid-range jumpers consistently. Effort and consistency on the defensive end are needed, as well as becoming more skilled instead of just relying on athleticism. But, at #20 or #21, he is a great value pick, and with the right coaching and attitude, can be very valuable off the bench in the 2nd half of the season.
JZ: When you assess Boston's situation coming into the next season, which players (within the realm of possibility) would give Boston the best chance to remain competitive and get the most out of its draft choices?
EI: The players that will let them remain competitive will be players who are mature and experienced coming out of college, and can accept their role withing the team's system. Andrew Nicholson is the first name to springs to mind, and I will discuss him more below. Another good option would be Royce White, if available. White has a great understanding of the game, knows how to maximize his talents, and still has room to improve. His shooting ability is a question mark, as well as his ability to play a role without the offense running through him, but he still has the talent to help immediately in some areas. Two other options would be Arnett Moultrie and Jeff Taylor. Moultrie is long and athletic, but short on skill. Taylor is a very good shooter and perimeter defender, but I don't know how much higher his ceiling will be.
JZ: Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure is another name that has been linked to the Celtics. What is there to know about Nicholson?
EI: Nicholson is very skilled, having the ability to score around the basket in a variety of ways, as well as being able to knock down jumpers from 15-18 feet. He is a solid defender around the lane, but will need to improve his foot speed to guard on the perimeter better. His basketball IQ is one of the tops in this class, and even his senior year, he continue to improve his game in little ways. In my mind, one of the best picks the Celtics could make at 20 or 21.
JZ: Finally, give me your best-case scenario for the Celtics during the 2012 NBA Draft.
EI: I think the best case scenario for Boston would be coming out of this draft with Harkless and either White or Nicholson. If Ray Allen is gone, they would be better off finding a shooter in free agency, and while you will not find another Garnett, you can adjust the offense with some young players who can play the position. Either way, it looks like next season may be a big change in Boston, so they may as well start looking to the future.
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