The annual NBA Draft Combine begins tonight and the Celtics will get an opportunity to meet with and get a look at a number of draft hopefuls. Usually the top of the board athletes will skill the actual on-court activities, but they'll be available for interviews, which are sometimes the most important pieces of the puzzle this week.
Given that many of the top draft prospects will skip the combine and others will bypass the 5-on-5 on-court work, Boston will do most of its heavy lifting at its hotel. Boston can interview up to 18 players for 30 minutes apiece. As Celtics coach Brad Stevens said at last year's combine: "The best part is the interviews. That’s my own personal opinion. You know a lot about these guys as players and we’ve seen them play ... the basketball stuff is good, but there’s not as much that’s unknown out here right now. But getting in those rooms and interviewing, I think it’s good, even though you only get 30 minutes."
An interesting (but not surprising) quote we've already heard is that the Celtics will be focused on talent over need.
"Every year there are players who out-perform their draft position, and some who under-perform it," Ainge said. "Sometimes it takes four or five years before you know." But a specific need will not guide this week’s process. "A rim protector will not take precedence over a better player," Ainge said. "We need to improve our talent level. It’s not like we’re out there looking for a second baseman or a cornerback. We’re looking for a basketball player who can play both ends of the floor and defend his position."
So yeah, my recurring nightmare of a steady stream of undersized power forwards being drafted is still in play. But seriously though, unless all other elements are exactly equal between a few candidates, you have to go with the more talented player every time.