There are very few sure bets in the NBA Draft, especially for those picking outside of the lottery. The further you move toward the back end of the first round, the more it starts to seem like throwing darts.
This is what makes the scouting process so important. Teams want to evaluate as many prospects as they can in a limited window, while the agents for those players want to steer their clients toward teams that could be reasonable landing spots so that their time isn't wasted. Every team would like to get a look at guys like Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, but only a select few teams drafting at the top will get the opportunity.
If the goal is to evaluate as many options as possible, the Celtics find themselves with a unique advantage due to their wealth of draft picks.
"These guys [draft prospects] can't work out for all 30 teams," Austin Ainge, the Celtics director of player personnel, told CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely. "So agents try to limit it to your range. So that's probably the biggest advantage in our wide net is we have a pick for every range, almost. We're able to get more guys in which is even more important than what we're trying to get."
Boston has the 16th, 28th, 33rd and 45th pick in the upcoming draft, which enables them to cast a net that encompasses essentially anyone projected to be drafted outside of the lottery and into the second round.
With a bundle of future draft picks and young assets at their disposal, the Celtics could explore moving up in the draft. If they have their eye on an enticing prospect that seems out of their range, that player may still be willing to work out for them knowing that Boston is capable putting together a package that could move them into that range. Aside from perhaps the few elite that are pegged for the top picks this year, there are few prospects that can reasonable decline an offer to work out for the Celtics based on a belief that they are out of their range.
The Celtics scouting staff has already done extensive research on these prospects, having seen them all play at the college or international level. There are also group workouts arranged by the agents that are designed to show off the player's strengths. These are useful methods of gathering information, which leaves little about these prospects that teams don't already know. However, there is still a lot of value in conducting private workouts that allow the team to control what they want to evaluate.
"It's different for every group," said Ainge. "It's evaluating some of the different questions we have on each player. If a guy is a poor shooter, we try to watch his shooting more closely. If a guy's a poor passer, we try to put him in situations where he has to pass. We try to poke and prod and sum up the weaknesses of guys, try and learn a little bit more about them."
Holding private workouts enables teams advantages that they don't get from watching games or sitting in the stands during group workouts. They can see them work up close and direct them to work on parts of their game that the scouts may not be as familiar with. It also gives teams a chance to meet with the players, ask them questions and find out what kind of man they are. This is essential to evaluating whether or not the player would be a good fit for the chemistry of the team. They can gauge their basketball IQ, their motivation and desire to succeed. Do they show leadership qualities that can help bring a locker room together or do they reveal toxic qualities that could pull a team apart? These are the types of things scouts look to explore in these private workouts.
The Celtics may see close to 100 players work out by the time the NBA Draft rolls around on June 25. Not all of them will come to the Celtics' practice facility in Waltham for a private workout, but Boston will have the opportunity to meet with more prospects than most teams will because they have the ability to move around the board to land almost anywhere they want.
When it comes to keeping their options open by getting a good look at as many prospects as possible, the flexibility at Boston's disposal gives them an edge over the competition.