The Boston Celtics waited until the second round to pick a front court player, but even Jordan Mickey doesn't fall under the rim protector category. The Celtics are going into free agency without a true defensive big man, and it doesn't seem like they will be landing a big name this summer. However, by selecting Mickey with the 33rd pick, the team added a player that can provide valuable talents, similar to those of Brandan Wright.
You may be aware of Brandan Wright: the core of pieces Boston got for Rajon Rondo (at the time). But he only wore green for 8 games, so you may be unfamiliar of his value to the Mavericks. Throughout his years in Dallas, Wright was a big reason for the Mavericks' success. He was a fan favorite, and owned similar skills that Boston's newest forward provided at LSU.
Brandan Wright is an undersized power forward (just 6'9'') like Jordan Mickey (6'8''), but both are elite shot blockers. Mickey was one of the most dominant shot blockers in the NCAA, averaging 3.6 last season. He isn't much of a rim protector, but he has length that helps him get a hand on a ton of shots. Wright's didn't average as many minutes as Mickey, but he did accumulate 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes on the Mavs this season.
This area of the game is where I see most of the similarities between the two players. Both guys have crazy length and a knack for timing. Mickey can develop into a nice help defender from the weak side thanks to his quickness and ability to jump.
Part of the reason why these two thrive at blocking shots is their body type. Both are undersized for their position but use their length to play above the rim. Wright has a 7'4'' wingspan, Mickey has a 7'3.5'' wingspan.
Brandan Wright was such a big contributor to the Mavericks because of his athletic abilties. In the video above, Wright's head nearly clears the rim and he didn't have much of a running start. His natural gifts also helped him score above the basket, which is why he barely missed a shot in Dallas (shooting 74.8 before being traded). He doesn't have much of a back to the basket game, but he doesn't need one because he scores in his own way (dunks, pick and rolls, put-backs). That's how I see Jordan Mickey on offense. He doesn't provide much shooting and he can't really create his own shot. Luckily, he has incredible athleticism that helps him score in ways similar to Wright. At LSU, Mickey scores most of his points in the paint using his superior athleticism to score above the defenders. He didn't show much of a post game either.
Wright and Mickey's athleticism helps them far beyond scoring. These two can defend multiple positions with their lateral quickness, and also run the floor extremely well.
Jordan Mickey probably won't be able to defend true NBA big men for a long period of time, but he does give Brad Stevens some flexibility in terms of lineup schemes. Mickey's length and ability to adapt to new situations can help Stevens implement a small ball lineup, which he often pulled off last season. Wright gave Rick Carlisle a similar type of freedom to play the Mavs small.
Mickey can also allow his fellow big man to focus solely on protecting the rim. Tyler Zeller wasn't much of a rim protector last season, but he was Boston's closest thing to it. Now with Mickey on the floor, a player like Zeller won't have to do too much on defense, he can just focus on stopping anyone who comes near the rim. This may not be a great plan, but it could work when the Celtics are getting killed inside.
Mickey is being put in a nice situation for his skill set. Brandan Wright thrived when Dirk Nowitzki was opening up the floor, it allowed him to cut, pick and roll, and crash the boards. The Celtics have a handful of "floor stretching" bigs, so Mickey has more room to display his highly praised athleticism.
Will Mickey be the valuable piece that Wright was on the Mavericks? Maybe. Wright was the 8th pick in the 2007 draft, so he certainly had a lot more potential to fill than Boston's second rounder. However, I see a lot of Brandan Wright in Jordan Mickey, and I believe if Brad Stevens plays him the right way, he can be a nice player for Boston.