Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics can't afford to miss on their draft selection this year.
With the futures of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett hanging in the balance, there has been a lot of discussion about what is best for Boston's future. Regardless of what could happen in the free agent market, the draft is still first on the agenda. The 2013 NBA Draft is on the 27th of June and the Boston Celtics will be selecting at pick number 16.
Today, we'll go position-by-position to outline the Boston Celtics' needs heading into the draft, and then we will take a brief look at six of the players that could be fits with the team at the 16th pick.
Throughout the coming weeks, there will be in-depth scouting player previews coming up as a part of our CelticsBlog NBA Draft Preview series, so be sure to follow me on Twitter and let me know what prospects you would like to see profiled! Follow @Kevin__OConnor
The Bigs (Center/Power Forward)
With Kevin Garnett's future up in the air, Fab Melo still at the beginning stages of his development, and Jared Sullinger returning from back surgery, the Celtics are in serious need of an inside presence. Fortunately for the C's, this draft has many prospects that could fit at the 16th pick. However, the majority of the potential defensive centers are developmental prospects, much like Fab Melo. Regardless, the Celtics will have a wide range of players to choose from; whether it's well-rounded power forwards, stretch shooters, or developmental projects.
The Small Forwards
With Paul Pierce nearing the end of his career and Jeff Green as the only other small forward on the roster, Boston is need for another forward. However, at the Celtics' number 16 pick, there are very few small forwards that would be able to come in and play right away. The majority of them are long-term projects that would need to stay overseas or spend time in the developmental league.
Small forwards that could be available at the 16th pick are:
Giannis Adetokonbo, SF, Greece
Jamaal Franklin, SF, San Diego St.
Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Deshaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
Boston has a plethora of guards on the roster but lacks a true point guard to play behind Rajon Rondo. With Rondo returning from an ACL tear in his right knee, Danny Ainge might want insurance incase Rondo takes an extended period of time to get healthy. On the other hand, drafting a shooting guard at the C's spot in the draft is extremely unlikely. The Celts already have loads of tweener guards such as Jason Terry, Jordan Crawford, Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee, and Avery Bradley. To draft a tweener guard or a shooting guard would be counter-productive.
Some guards that may be available at pick number 16 are:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Gorgui Dieng | Center | Louisville
Age: 23 | Height: 6'11" | Weight: 235
Boston is in need of another big man that can be an enforcer in the paint since Kevin Garnett is close to retirement. Dieng is a long, athletic center with a 7'6" wingspan. He has fantastic change-of-direction ability, shows great closing speed when going for blocks from behind, and is a strong pick-and-roll defender. In his championship year with Louisville, he averaged 2.5 blocks and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Offensively, Dieng's development can be compared to that of Serge Ibaka. Dieng came to college with virtually no offensive game but he has developed a consistent 10-to-16 foot jumper. His post moves are still raw but he has flashed some potential on the post, including a nice hook shot. When securing offensive rebounds, Dieng must do a better job of going straight back up with the ball. Two of the best overall attributes of Dieng's game are his passing and his screens. Though he only averaged 2 assists per game, he consistently has shown the ability to make sensational passes. He's also great at setting good, strong screens for ball handlers.
Dieng's stock puts him right around the range where the Boston Celtics are selecting but it's possible that he jumps up into the top 10. Despite some of the raw aspects of his game, he's still the best defensive big man in the draft outside of Nerlens Noel. He has the tools to improve his offense even more than he has in his three years at Louisville.
Michael Carter-Williams | Point Guard | Syracuse
Age: 21 | Height: 6'6" | Weight: 175
Standing at 6'6", Michael Carter-Williams will remind some people of Shaun Livingston. However, unlike Livingston, Carter-Williams is an excellent defensive player. He was sixth in the nation in steals, averaging 2.74 per game. Carter-Williams' length allows him to pick off and tip passes with ease. He clogs the passing lanes and has amazing instincts. Despite playing in a zone at Syracuse, he has shown the ability to be a strong man-to-man defender.
Michael Carter-Williams is a severely inconsistent scorer. His jump shot goes off and on, considering he shot only 39.3 percent from the field last year. He's not a good jump shooter but can't rely on going to the basket to get baskets. He can ge where he wants with the ball but doesn't have touch when attempting difficult layups or floaters in the lane. Carter-Williams' passing is very good but he takes too many risks that result in turnovers.
Michael Carter-Williams is projected to be a top 13 draft pick but could slip because of his weaknesses on the offensive end. Chad Ford had Boston selecting him in his most recent mock draft.
Mason Plumlee | Power Forward | Duke
Age: 23 | Height: 6'10" | Weight: 230
Plumlee excelled in his senior year with Duke, averaging 17.1 points on 59.9 percent shooting and 10 rebounds per game. Plumlee is a remarkable athlete and is often the recipient of alley-oop passes. Plumlee is aggressive and has good awareness when boxing out and grabbing rebounds. The Duke big man can also dribble and set screens very well, which makes him very effective in pick and roll plays.
The offensive concern for Plumlee is the fact that he primarily finishes at the rim via a pass or an offensive rebound. He isn't a quality jump shooter and his post game is notably limited. Mason did make some minor improvements during his senior year, but still was often handled by larger centers and power forwards.
Mason Plumlee is not a very good defensive player. For a power forward as athletic he is, you would expect better production. Of course, many players struggle in pick and roll defense at the college level, but as a senior, Plumlee has not proven that he has the lateral quickness or closing speed to stay with guards. At the beginning of his NBA career, he will be totally exposed in the pick and roll. Despite the concerns, Plumlee is extremely athletic, can finish well at the rim, and has the tools to improve the weak parts of his game.
Giannis Adetokonbo | Small Forward | Greece
Age: 18 | Height: 6'9" | Weight: 210
The 18 year old from Greece is one of the most interesting players in the draft. He's an exceptionally raw player, with very little experience playing basketball at a high level. He has the length to play in the NBA, at 6'9" with a 7'3" wingspan, but he lacks strength and bulk, weighing in at only 210 pounds.
Giannis is a very versatile player, spending time at point guard and power forward. Much of his flexibility comes because of his ball handling and passing ability. He has shown the potential to be a star driving to the rim, weaving between defenders, all the way to the basket. He finishes strong with both his left and right hands as well. Adetokonbo's glaring weaknesses is his perimeter shooting. His entire form is raw; he barely elevates, has a hitch in his release, and doesn't follow through. With proper coaching his shot may improve, but at the moment, he has a long way to go to find a consistent stroke outside.
Drafting Giannis would signal a move for the future considering he would likely stay in Europe or play in the D-League for a couple of seasons. Adetokonbo is so raw yet has absolutely unbelievable potential, so he might be worth the risk at pick number 16. He has the body and athleticism to be a star on both ends of the floor, but patience is necessary for his development.
Kelly Olynyk | Power Forward | Gonzaga
Age: 21 | Height: 7'0" | Weight: 238
Olynyk is a unique player that performs very much like a point guard would, only at 7'0" tall. He actually came to Gonzaga as a point guard and didn't make the shift to power forward until then. Olynyk is a very good dribbler and get to where he wants with the ball. He's adequate at running the floor and is often the receiver of passes on the fast break. Kelly has a unique ability of "finding the blue sky" when working inside, scoring at a high rate near the rim. From the post, Olynyk is raw, but has flashed some basic moves, and like a guard, is very good as passing out to the perimeter.
Olynyk's most notable deficiencies are his rebounding and defense. Playing against relatively weak competition, Olynyk still only averaged 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. He lacks the explosiveness and athleticism to compete against larger, stronger players, so it's a concern that he will get banged around in the NBA. Olynyk lacks experience playing pick and roll defense, which will hurt him in his NBA career.
Kelly Olynyk is ready to be a scorer in the NBA but needs to improve the other assets of his game. Because of his advanced scoring skills, Olynyk might go in the lottery, but there are some other fast risers in the draft that could knock him down to Boston's selection at pick number 16.
Myck Kabongo | Point Guard | Texas
Age: 21 | Height: 6'1" | Weight: 180
Kabongo is a pass first point guard that plays similar to a young Rajon Rondo. Kabongo has very good dribbling ability, is a pinpoint passer, and has shown the ability to take over games with his intangibles. In only 11 games as a sophomore he averaged 14.6 points, 5.5 assists and 5 rebounds per game. However, Kabongo is extremely inconsistent scorer, shooting only 41.8 percent from the field last season. But where he makes up for his scoring is with his passing and defense.
Kabongo's intangibles and leadership showed in a game where he furiously led Texas back from a 22 point deficit against Oklahoma to win in overtime. Myck played incredible man-to-man defense, orchestrated the offense, getting open shots for players, and scored clutch baskets from all over the floor. While Kabongo won't do this every game, it's impressive that he is able to step up in dire circumstances.
Myck Kabongo is an interesting player to keep an eye on because his stock could easily rise into the top 20 of the draft. He is currently projected as a late first or early second since he only played in 11 games because of a suspension for accepting impermissible benefits. But with workouts coming up, Kabongo's stock could jump back up into the middle of the first round. If he were to develop into a more consistent scorer, he would likely be considered an elite guard in the draft. Doesn't that sound familiar, Rondo?
What do you want the Celtics to do? Are any of these six players someone you would like to see play for the Boston Celtics next season? Is there someone not even mentioned that you think the team should select at the 16th pick? Comment below or tweet us your thoughts!