With two picks in the top 17, the Boston Celtics are in a position where they can organize stacked group workouts with some of the best talent in the 2014 NBA Draft. Today they have a group highlighted by top-ranked combo guards Marcus Smart, Nik Stauskas, and Gary Harris, and they're having a solo workout with Kentucky power forward Julius Randle.
Julius Randle will take part in a private workout today with the Celtics. While I am not nearly as high on him as many other draft evaluators -- he lands at #17 on my big board as the #5 big man - Boston is certainly going through their due diligence by getting a close look at as many prospects as they can. Unless Randle slides in the draft due to his injured foot, they would have to pick him at #6.
Randle presents a number of captivating tools on offense, as it's so rare to see a 250-pound man that can move as quickly as he does. With very good ball handling skills in the open floor, Randle is able to pound his way to the rim. He's not afraid to get dirty, as proven by his persistent attitude on the boards with his average of 4.5 boards per 40 last year with Kentucky. However, Randle's defense is certainly a problem, as he displays poor awareness and effort on that end of the floor.
For the group workout, Boston managed to bring in four out of my top five guards on my Top 100 big board in Smart (#2), Stauskas (#3) Harris (#4), and Elfrid Payton (#5). In addition, Zach LaVine (#9) and Jordan Clarkson (#14) will be joining them. All six of these guards bring a different set of skills, making this a unique grouping, which will most certainly make for a competitive workout.
Clarkson could be had by the Celtics if they were to trade down from #17 or they picked up an early second round pick through a trade. The 22-year-old guard from Missouri brings versatility on the offensive end, as he has the ability to play both guard positions. However, at 6-foot-5 with an outstanding repertoire of dribble moves, his greatest potential may be as a point guard, as his top skill is being able to penetrate the lane in the pick-and-roll.
LaVine's stock is difficult to pin, as he has been projected from the mid-lottery to the 20s. As one of the youngest and rawest players in the draft, selecting the UCLA guard would give the Celtics one of the players with the highest upsides at his draft positioning. While I am not particularly high on his pure basketball skills, anytime a freak athlete with such a great first step and a smooth jumper makes their way to the NBA, they'll draw attention.
At #13 on my big board is one of my personal favorites in the draft, Elfrid Payton. To preview my 2014 NBA Draft Guide, here is a photo of my entire scouting report on him.
If you'd like to name your price and purchase the guide: click here or click the image to the right to find out more details. If the Payton scouting report is difficult to read, then click the scouting report itself to bring it into full screen mode.
Harris and Stauskas are two intriguing options if the Celtics end up trading down from #6 or up from #17. Harris is a defender that will rip your heart out with his absolutely tenacious style. He would fit right in, though he could also play some point guard as a complimentary offensive player.
Stauskas is really on the opposite end of the spectrum as he is a poor defender but a terrific offensive player. The Michigan combo guard has arguably the best shot out of anyone in the draft and can hit from anywhere on the court. If the Celtics selected him, Brad Stevens would have a guy he can runs play for immediately.
And lastly, Marcus Smart is the top-ranked player as part of the group workout. Most know the deal about him at this point since he is discussed so much, but his greatest traits are no doubt his doggedness and his will to win. Smart is a bulldog on defense and can defend two, possibly three positions. He is laterally quick enough to stay with speedy guards, but he's strong enough to handle wings.
The same mindset applies on the offensive end, where he constantly bullies his way to the rim and draws fouls at an incredibly high rate. Selecting Smart would allow the Celtics to ease him into a rotation along with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, giving them time to make a decision on their future plans.
Follow me on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA or contact me by email at KevinOConnorNBA@gmail.com