BOSTON -- The Celtics continue to use their arsenal of picks, selecting French brute Guerchon Yabusele to give them a versatile and powerful stretch four. He will likely develop overseas for a while as the Celtics continue to sort out their roster.
The 6'8, 240 lbs. force has a solid perimeter shot and can attack the rim from outside. He is a force in the paint with incredible power, athleticism and intensity. But there are significant questions about his defensive effort that had him pegged as a second-rounder.
Yabusele was as surprised as anyone to be selected at 16.
"Nobody was expecting," he said. "I see them coming close to me, see my name. So I was really surprised to be in here. But I was so happy."
The Frenchman has had limited contact with the Celtics, a stark contrast to most of the other prospects in the first round.
"I talked to the coach a little bit, talked to the GM. I knew there was interest, but I don't believe that I'm doing to be the 16th pick."
The fact that he couldn't remember Brad Stevens or Danny Ainge's names underscores the whirlwind of surprise emanating form the Celtics' war room tonight. But with Yabusele looking likely to stay overseas and 23rd pick Ante Zizic insistent that he will come tot he NBA this season, the Celtics still have a roster mess to manage. Yabusele is willing to play his part by staying in France while Ainge sorts it out.
"It's not a problem for me, even if I got to go one year, two years, in Europe, in another country and play, I'll go," Yabusele said. "I just want to play in the NBA and try to be better. So it's great."
Comparisons have ranged from the French Draymond Green to the French Larry Johnson, but he will need to grow significantly on defense to be worthy of such lofty comparisons. He has flown deeply under the radar in the French A league, but has flashed the potential to be a big impact player. His potential as a strong pick-and-roll player is notable, while being able to pop out for three when needed.
While he is just 6'8", his long wingspan, great athleticism and massive build make him a potential aerial force. But these qualities are mostly reserve for his scoring ability, as his rebounding and shot contesting are suspect. Considering the relatively low competition level, this will be a huge weakness that he will need to overcome.
He is the kind of boom-or-bust prospect whose mentality on defense could keep him from cracking an NBA rotation. Similar p[layers like JJ Hickson and Thomas Robinson have seen their careers quickly fade because they were a ghost on defense.
The reach is reminiscent of Ainge's selection of Terry Rozier just a year ago. Rozier was forced into action eventually, but Yabusele may be a long wait before he sees the parquet floor.