The Boston Celtics have four non-lottery picks in the 2015 NBA Draft, but the entire fan base hopes the front office will acquire a top 10 pick. But there is no guarantee they'll be able to find a dance partner, despite having enough assets to make a move. And if they are stuck where they are, they'll need to strike gold with their late picks, bucking a trend that has plagued the front office for the last seven years.
During the pre-Big 3 era (2003 through 2006), Danny Ainge and the Celtics front office were on fire with their late-first and early-second round draft picks (including draft night deals, i.e.: Rondo).
The Celtics had a superb success rate during that time, with four of those draftees being contributors on highly successful teams. I used to get into heated arguments on NBA forums about why Ainge was one of the best general managers in the league, and I often cited his sensational drafting record as evidence.
But the front office has struggled to find steals in the middle of the draft. Here are there picks in the same range since the 2007 draft, the night they acquired Ray Allen:
Only Jared Sullinger and Glen Davis qualify as successful picks from that range. (To be fair, Avery Bradley just missed the cutoff, as he was the 19th pick in 2010.) Nevertheless, the Celtics unexplainably have missed on the majority of their picks in a range they once had a near perfect success rate.
2015 is a pivotal summer and the Celtics need to get back on track with three picks in the same draft range that has provided them with both steals and busts. Here are five prospects you should be hoping the front office is targeting in the middle of the draft, based on their skill-set and their fit with the team, among other factors.
Anthony Brown, Wing, Stanford
More on Anthony Brown
More on Anthony Brown
The next Khris Middleton could very well by Stanford wing Anthony Brown. Brown is one of the best spot up shooters in this class, draining 44.1 percent of his threes.
He is excellent at relocating off-ball and has flashed potential shooting off screens. Brown needs to work on his defense, but he is an intelligent and motivated player that should improve on that end thanks to film study, his instincts, and effort, much like Middleton has in his NBA career with the Bucks. Players like Brown rarely bust, especially when they have the aptitude to be much more.
Robert Upshaw, Center, Washington
Everyone's favorite player to mock to the Celtics is Robert Upshaw, a center out of Washington that has been kicked off two different teams and has battled drug addiction. Despite the major red flags, Upshaw has elite potential as a rim protector and has even flashed scoring potential on the offensive end.
As long as he's cleared from his reported heart problem, Upshaw is worth a shot at the 28th or 33rd picks. He brings a greater element of risk than all the other prospects on this list, but this guy is no dunce like Fab Melo; he's just a kid that's been through a lot of hardships and needs a tightknit team and structure that the Celtics can provide.
J.P. Tokoto, Wing, North Carolina
Evan Turner only has one year left on his contract and finding a player that can fill his do-it-all role would be a wise move for the team. J.P. Tokoto is a player that can defend multiple positions at a high level thanks to his IQ, motor, and athleticism.
Offensively, he projects as a "point wing," much like Turner. He has developing passing instincts and does a good job of probing in the pick-and-roll. If the Celtics drafted Tokoto, they would be wise to develop him into a point guard, because his size would give him a distinct advantage at the position.
Tyler Harvey, Guard, Eastern Washington
Tyler Harvey doesn't offer anything as a defensive player, but man, this kid can score. He's capable of creating space and pulling up from anywhere, leading the nation in scoring as a junior. Learning from someone like Isaiah Thomas could do a lot of good for him, especially as he develops as a point guard. The Celtics already have both Thomas and Marcus Smart ahead of him on the depth chart, but Harvey is a "best player available" type of talent at #45 and Ainge loves his sparkplug scorers.
Nikola Milutinov, Center, Serbia
If the Celtics are forced to make four picks, they're certainly going to have to select at least one draft-and-stash player. Serbian center Nikola Milutinov stands out as the premier option, due to his excellent feel for the game. At 20-years-old, he's already good at "role player skills," such as screening, passing, and finishing at the rim. Defensively he has solid fundamentals and looks to be only a few years away from playing in the NBA.
For NBA fans looking for another resource to satisfy their NBA Draft night needs, I'm releasing my NBA Draft Guide for the second year in a row. What brings so many of you to SB Nation -- and what first brought me here -- is to get an alternative perspective on your favorite team. I hope I bring that same unique look at the draft in my guide.
The $10 eBook has full-page scouting reports of my top 60 prospects, analysis of my full top-100, team-by-team previews, a two-in-one mock and some essays on the draft. After last year's guide, I hired a designer to create these beautiful pages that you can see in the video above or by clicking here to view a PDF preview.
This guide is great for hardcore basketball fans that sit on the edge of their seat during every playoff game and for casual fans that just want to catch up on the prospects their favorite team may draft. It's also very useful for fans to reference during the season, since so many rookies will be playing heavy minutes.
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