If I had a nickle for every time I wrote the words "rim protector" in the last year, well let's just say that my pockets would be very heavy and jingly. The Celtics played guys like Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, and Kelly Olynyk at the position last year and the team as a whole had trouble keeping anyone and everyone out of the painted area.
So even though the Celtics have stated that they'll be drafting talent over need, it isn't a stretch to assume that they'll be looking long and hard at some of the talent that is of the 7 foot variety. With some extra picks, they might even be able to move a few spots to get them.
One target is Willie Trill Cauley-Stein (yes, he added the Trill as an official middle name).
Two league sources told CSNNE.com Friday that the Boston Celtics are "very open" to moving up in next month’s NBA draft. And while the sources did not indicate which player Boston was targeting, there are growing signs that they have their sights set on trying to draft Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein.
Some experts (like Chad Ford) are skeptical that the Celtics have the assets to get into the top 10 to land a guy like WTCS. I would counter that they probably have what it takes, but it might cost more than they are willing to give up (Marcus Smart). Still, sometimes guys slide on draft day and there's a chance that he could fall into a spot that would be more affordable for the Celtics to trade into. (Yes, this is where getting into the playoffs "costs" the Celtics. I'd still pay that price 10 times out of 10 because the draft is still a roll of the dice no matter where you pick.)
If the Trill is gone (see what I did there?) when the Celtics pick and they haven't traded up, there are other backup plans to consider. One guy that might get pushed out of the top 10 could be Myles Turner. He's a guy that can shoot well for a guy his size and he knows his way around the defensive side of the ball as well.
While not an explosive athlete, Turner combines his plus length with excellent timing and great shot blocking instincts to be a consistent factor on this end of the court. Similarly, while Turner could certainly stand to fill out his frame with much-needed strength, he has good technique on the defensive glass and shows a nose for the ball, and does a good job collecting rebounds outside of his area for a guy who isn't all that quick.
Again, he might not last till the 16th pick, but the Celtics could move up a few spots to snag him if they think he won't last past a certain slot.
The problem with targeting big men, however, is that a lot of teams could use them. So sometimes you have to take a chance on someone later in the draft and hope they pan out. That worked out well for Danny Ainge when he picked up Kendrick Perkins straight out of high school. It didn't work out so well when he picked Fab Melo.
With that in mind, the Celtics might just take a shot on a guy like Robert Upshaw with the Clippers pick. Or if they need to use a 2nd rounder to move up a spot or two, that might be a decent investment long term. Upshaw is a guy that most agree would be a lottery pick if not for his substance abuse related suspension. Because of that, he's being projected near the end of the first round.
Since being dismissed from Washington (he led the nation in blocks with 4.6 at the time), Upshaw has spent that time getting himself right off the court with various programs designed to help free him from the substance abuse-related issues that put his pro career in serious jeopardy. "It’s been a long process," Upshaw said. "I’ve had a lot of education around drugs and alcohol. There’s a lot of things I’ve been through. I haven’t kept that a secret. I’ve just been working on myself with a team of people that are really close to me so I can have success at the next level."
Upshaw has even had Bill Walton start mentoring him on the struggles of substance abuse and overcoming them in the NBA. There's no question that the kid has talent and "measurables" but his past will follow him and the temptations at the next level will be abundant, so of course it will be a risk for whomever selects him.
So those are a few names to keep an eye on during the draft. The Celtics may not be able to obtain any of their draft rights, but you can bet that they'll do their due diligence on them.