Don't listen to anything I have to say about the NBA draft. Seriously, I haven't watched a college basketball game from start to finish in years. I have no original thoughts on these prospects but I'm happy to take things that people say and parrot them for you.
That's partly me being self deprecating and part humble honesty. When it boils down to it, few people have the time and energy to devote to actually scouting these guys for themselves. The few people who do either work for NBA teams or for specific draft websites and even those people tend to have widely divergent opinions on prospects.
So I could beat the drum for one player based on some scouting reports and a few clips that I've seen of him playing, but I could just as easily do the same for the next player on someone's draft board. In fact, I know for a fact that I'm going to spend the next 5 weeks talking myself into and out of each of the prospects projected to go between 4 and 10. Wyc has apparently been told by Danny that there are 6 guys that he loves in this draft, but we won't know who they are until after the fact, if then.
Already I've read Kevin O'Connor slam Julius Russell's defense and I've written him off in favor of defensive stud Aaron Gordon. Then this morning I listened to this podcast with Paul Flannery and Jonathan Givony from Draft Express where they have real concerns about Gordon's offense and laud Randle's toughness and offensive polish. So now I'm confused and conflicted. Toss in the wildcard of Noah Vonleh (less polish, more length) and I'm at a complete loss.
There are so many conflicting philosophical debates in play as well. There's how to weigh offense vs. defense. How to balance best player available with team need. How to value "upside potential" vs. NBA ready. I think in a perfect world most coaches would say they want defenders with great upside regardless of position. But when the clock is ticking and Julius Randle is on the board, is he just too talented on offense to pass up? Or are you brave enough to draft a guy that could take a year or two to see the court when Rajon Rondo is using the next year to decide his NBA future (and thus the Celtics' immediate future).
The draft itself is going to make for some great drama as well. The top 3 appear to be locked in stone, with an outside chance of Exum breaking into the mix. I'm guessing Exum or whomever he pushes out of the top 3 will be selected 4th. Then the real pivot point for us is the Jazz. What do they do with number 5? (That coin flip was nearly as big a blow to our draft position as the lottery was)
The Jazz could make our decision easier for us if they take Randle or Gordon. I kind of want them to take Marcus Smart so we won't be tempted to pick him and start up the whole "Rajon Rondo's replacement" topic.
There's also the international intrigue. Saric and Nurkic are both being projected a little lower than where the Celtics are picking, but if Ainge really likes them more than the other guys, he should absolutely pick his guy, regardless of what the experts say. An interesting note that Givony brought up was that Saric would definitly come to the NBA next year if Boston or the Lakers pick him. Anyone lower than that and he might consider staying overseas.
Also, no matter how many times I remind myself, I keep forgetting (or devaluing) the 17th pick. There's some good role players that could be scooped up at that pick. We could go purely for upside and take a chance on an athlete that will need years to develop (hello Zach LaVine). Or we could focus on shooting (as O'Connor outlines here).
Or maybe one or both of those picks will be shipped off in a trade. Last year AInge chose draft night to shake up the team's future. We waited all year for the other shoe to drop and it never really did. This might be when that will happen but we'll see.
All of this makes for great theater of course. I'm going to enjoy watching the rumor mill. I'll have to put a few more analysts on my smartphone alert list (Wojo is a year-round must-have). And we'll undoubtedly have a lot of fun debating here on CelticsBlog each twist and turn and over-analyze each puff of smoke. Because that's what we do.
But remember, don't listen to anything I have to say. At least not any more than the next talking head. I'm just here to facilitate discussion and try to keep up like the rest of you.