CelticsBlog MailBag: NBA Draft and March Madness Edition Answers Part 1

Hopefully you were lucky enough to sit on your couch for 13 straight hours yesterday watching March Madness. Every year is filled with upsets and exciting games, but yesterday was something special. Friday's slate of games will definitely meet the hype and it also has a heavier dose of NBA draft prospects.

Over the course of the weekend I'll be answering your questions from the mailbag, so if you'd like to ask more, click here, or scroll down to the end of the article and use that form. Here are some answers related to the games being played today:

Q: How do you feel about Aaron Gordon and how do think he could fit into the current Celtics grab? -- ianboyextreme

A: I love Aaron Gordon and I think he could slide right into the rotation getting 15 to 25 minutes per game. At worst, he'll be one of the best lockdown defenders in the NBA, so that makes him a quality, safe selection for any team. At this point, I honestly think he's pro-ready despite the fact that he's only 18-years-old. He's an outstanding finisher at the rim -- 82.4% in transition, 71.1% in the half court -- which means he'd be the recipient of many alley-oops from Rajon Rondo. Gordon's also a very good ball-handler for his size and knows how to make plays for his teammates. The problem is that he can't shoot worth a lick, at 43.5% from the line and 30.8% from three this year. His technique isn't bad, though, so I think whatever issues he's having may be solvable.

Q: Could you take us through some of the sleeper candidates in the draft? Especially the players from smaller basketball programs, who have already made an impression. -- European NBA Fan

A: Elfrid Payton from LA-Lafayette is the first name that comes to mind. He plays today versus Creighton at 3:10 PM, which I am ecstatic about. He's a pass-first point guard in that he can't shoot, but he's a sensational distributor of the ball, and he knows how to defend. Then there's R.J. Hunter, a Korver-like shooter. Georgia St. was unfortunately eliminated in the NIT, but he could make it in the NBA as a three-point specialist. And then Bobby Portis, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Arkansas. He has impressed me quite a bit in the limited action I've seen from him. He knows how to defend despite his youth and he can knockdown mid-range jumpers, but he's not ready for the NBA since he needs to add lots of muscle to his frame.

Q: I have an idea of the very best lottery prospects, but I have little knowledge of any players who would be around for our second pick. Who are a few? --Lol9999 and slamtheking

A: I'll be doing a series of articles on this exact topic, but here's a few names to watch during March Madness: Nik Stauskas from Michigan, he's a knockdown three-point shooter, but knows how to play with the ball in his hands, too. Rodney Hood from Duke can bang down threes but he also has potential on the defensive end of the floor. He hasn't shown it entirely consistently this year, but he's a "baller." And Kyle Anderson, a point forward from UCLA, because I believe his ability to move and distribute the ball, and shoot three-pointers at a high rate, could fit in perfectly with Brad Stevens' motion offense.

Q: The Celtics will probably pick from 4-7, which rules out Wiggins, Parker, and Embiid, and I don't see us taking Randle, Exum, or Smart. One guy I like, but I've only seen 2 or 3 times and lots of highlights, is Doug McDermott, but that seems too high to take him. Is McDermott a good pick at 6 or would it be better to trade the pick? -- badax33 and LarryZ007

A: I think Doug McDermott is entering "reach territory" with the 6th pick, even though I'm convinced that he'll be a good NBA player. But at that slot, there are players with arguably more upside who are just as risky. Personally, I think McDermott has a higher ceiling than many people think he does, but trading down might be a better option. Realistically, McDermott is a 12 to 16 points per game type of player, but you might want to go with the higher upside player.

Q: Read an article which said that Embiid could fall to number 4 in the draft, due to concerns about his back and because teams like Philly and Orlando already have serviceable big men. If so, and depending on the lottery, he may be available to us. Is this wishful thinking on my part? -- Pogmohone

A: It's probably wishful thinking. Joel Embiid is a unique talent and probably shouldn't fall to that pick. However, keep in mind that he'll go through every exam in the book if he declares for the draft. NBA teams will find out everything, so there is always a chance. But if all the doctors say his back is totally fine, there's no reason for him to slip out of the top three.

Q: Nik Stauskas - am I crazy for thinking he'd be the perfect fit in the backcourt with Rajon Rondo? -- RJ87

A: No, you're not crazy. I think he's a better fit than Avery Bradley. Just consider this: AB is a 42.2 percent shooter from mid-range. This year at Michigan, Nik Stauskas is a 44.9 percent three-point shooter. Stauskas would stretch the floor even more, by taking threes, compared to only twos by AB -- and the success rate would be close to the same. Not only that, but Stauskas is intelligent moving off the ball. He knows how to cut to the basket, fight through screens, and create space for himself. This would be a significant downgrade on the defensive end, but offensively, it'd work perfectly if you ask me.

Q: What don't you like about Julius Randle? -- celticsfan545

A: Don't get me wrong, I like Julius Randle. I think he'll be a very good rebounder in the NBA and he has scoring potential, but I don't think he's a top ten pick. Defensively, he struggles defending on the perimeter and he's very bad off ball. He hustles, so the potential is there, but he has a long way to go when it comes to understanding reading the pick and roll, and when to decide to help or not. Offensively, I think he gets foul calls that he'll never get in the NBA. He bullies his way to the rim since he can take it off the dribble, but will that translate to the pros? I'm not sure, especially because he doesn't use his right hand very often. He has high-end role player potential, but I don't see a star like many others do. However, a strong tournament could change my opinion, because I loved him before the season began.

Q: If you had to take one of: Stauskas, LaVine, Hood, G.Harris who would you go for? -- Jan

A: Gary Harris because he gets it done on both ends of the floor. I think he's a pitbull defender and will be able to both guard positions equally well. He's also an improving shooter, making him a good role player on offense. Zach LaVine is intriguing but still too raw for me. Maybe my opinion will change after the tournament.

Q: Seeing that Gorgui Dieng had a 20-20 game tonight, do you think he could turn out better than Olynyk in 5 years? Could he turn out to be an Asik or Sanders give some time? - Not Ed Schultz

A: Yes. I had Gorgui Dieng ranked 14th last year on my big board and I don't think he'll be moving down, only up. What he has shown me in the past three games is much more than I could've expected from him this year, and I thought he's been solid whenever he got the opportunity. Kelly Olynyk could be a very good player, but Gorgui Dieng has exceptional potential defensively, which Olynyk doesn't. Gotta look at both ends of the floor.

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