The Celtics are loaded with guards, but what if there's a player available in the 2016 NBA Draft that combines both the positive attributes from R.J. Hunter and Terry Rozier? Look no further than Vanderbilt's sophomore guard Wade Baldwin, who could have skills that make a him a better fit for the NBA than the college game.
Click below to read my profile of Baldwin's unique physical attributes. Here's a snippet:.
MORE ON BALDWIN
MORE ON BALDWIN
Wade Baldwin has the makings of 2016 NBA Draft steal
Recent NBA draft history bodes well for the future of Vanderbilt sophomore guard Wade Baldwin, who has tremendous measurements at 6-3 with a 6-10 wingspan. Already a chiseled 195 pounds at 19, Baldwin has the frame to support even more lean muscle.
It’s rare for players to enter the NBA with physical dimensions like Baldwin. Since 2000, only nine players have been drafted in the top 30 that stand over 6-2 and less than 6-4, with a wingspan of at least 6-8.
Eight of those players were successful draft picks and one is just a rookie.
History suggests Vanderbilt's Wade Baldwin has a bright NBA future: https://t.co/8WKIq7LOCj @sn_ncaab @anchorofgold pic.twitter.com/uaHQnHs5Yp— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 1, 2016
You can't find those odds anywhere else.
Beyond having physical dimensions rarely found in the NBA, Baldwin has a very particular set of skills that should allow him to carve out a role. Baldwin's measurements and skills as a shooter, defender and passer make him a projected first-round pick. But it's his rapid development as an unranked high school recruit that suggests we're seeing just the tip of the iceberg of his potential.
You'll notice the Celtics drafted two of those players -- Rozier and Marcus Smart -- so maybe they'd share interest in Baldwin. He is like a hybrid of Rozier, Hunter, with some elements of Smart. Like Hunter, he's a knockdown shooter capable of scoring off different actions. Like Rozier, he's a lockdown defender. And like Smart, he has a thick, muscular frame that could allow him to defend larger players.
But Baldwin also shares some of their weaknesses. Like Rozier, his decision-making and pure point guard abilities also needs to improve. Like Hunter, he doesn't have the best shake off the dribble. He was also an unheralded high school recruit. But Baldwin has improved exponentially over the last two years, despite playing in a less-than-ideal situation, which bodes well for him going forward.
Once Baldwin plays on a team with actual spacing, the floor could open up for him, thus increasing his production. He's struggled against some elite college defenses, as I covered on SB Nation, but that could be due to his environment.
It might seem silly for the Celtics to draft another guard, but you never know how much the roster will change this offseason. If they make a blockbuster trade, maybe one or two of their current guards could be heading out. Maybe guard would suddenly become a need on the team. Baldwin can fill different roles and has an intriguing skill-set -- and history shows he has the athleticism the Celtics look for in a guard. I'd consider him a realistic target for the team with the Dallas pick, depending on what their plan is for the summer. But it's still realistically more likely they go for another position.
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