As we all anticipate the season, one of the underlying themes once again will be the Brooklyn Nets and their golden draft picks. To talk about some potential prospects in the 2017 draft and about our incoming rookies, we brought in Dakota Schmidt of Ridiculous Upside to give us some perspective.
CelticsBlog (CB): Jaylen Brown was a polarizing selection, and the jury is still out for most fans. What have you seen from him, and what will be his best role in the NBA?
Dakota Schmidt (DS): When I watched Jaylen Brown play when he was at California, I was more impressed with him than other college basketball fans. In college, I was impressed by Brown's great NBA-ready build and how he seemed to drive towards the paint whenever he desired. Has a great motor and can work to the left or right side of the paint. I think that Brown should be able to translate those skills towards the NBA level pretty well. Brown will definitely need to improve as a shooter, but I think his best role could potentially be as a small ball power forward.
CB: The 2017 NBA Draft has been dubbed by many as a great class. Who are the top guys that fans should keep their eyes on?
DS: There's about a dozen guys in this draft class that I'm a huge fan of, but I think there's an elite tier of six prospects. That list includes (in no particular order): Harry Giles, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith, Frank Ntilikina, and Josh Jackson.
CB: In previous years we’ve seen guys like D’Angelo Russel who weren’t talked about much suddenly fly up draft boards. Who are some candidates from this class that could fit that mold?
DS: In terms of non-lottery players that could potentially fly up draft boards, I have my eye on three separate prospects: Malik Monk, Jaron Blossomgame and Frank Jackson. Monk and Jackson both sit in the same category as smaller, score-first guards that are athletic as heck. Also, both Monk and Jackson both sit as the third-best incoming freshmen for Kentucky and Duke, respectively. Meanwhile, Blossomgame is a 23-year-old senior that is arguably the best upperclassman in college basketball. He's a solid 6'7” forward with an efficient perimeter jumper who can defend multiple positions and drive to the paint.
CB: The Celtics’ projected weaknesses going into this season are rebounding, shooting, and potentially ball-handling. Is there any prospect that you see as a good fit to address those needs? (Doesn’t have to be in his rookie season)
DS: Actually, Blossomgame might be that guy. I went deep into his all-around game in a recent piece, but here's my brief scouting report. Solid 6'8” forward that can either work as a wing or small-ball power forward. Shot 45% from beyond the arc during his junior season. Very solid on-ball cutter that does a nice job of working around the rim. More on Blossomgame here.
CB: Where did Abdel Nader come from, and how did he slip down to No. 58? Did his Summer League play convince you he could play in the league?
DS: Abdel Nader was a player that really came into prominence after a solid senior season with Iowa State. With that squad, he showed himself as a solid cutting wing with a fine perimeter jumper. He displayed those same skills with the Celtics at Vegas Summer League. That performance in Summer League did make me think that he could potentially have a role in the NBA. However, it looks like he's going to spend his entire rookie season with the Maine Red Claws, which I definitely think is a good idea. Nader still needs to develop as a player, and he'd get a better chance to that with the Red Claws rather than an elite Eastern Conference team like the Celtics.
CB: Guerschon Yabusele was a confusing selection for most Celtics fans because he was largely an unknown to us. What have you seen from him in France, and do you think he could ever contribute to an NBA team?
DS: From some of his French tape that I saw before the draft, I saw Yabusele as a bulky 6'8”, 260-pound dude with a smooth jumper. Those skills were seen during Vegas Summer League, as he really impressed against other NBA prospects. I definitely think that Yabusele could eventually contribute on the NBA level, as it's rare to see someone that muscle inside the paint while also having a smooth jumper. He's going to spend the 2016-17 season with the Shanghai Sharks of the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), but I think he could eventually contribute on the NBA level.
CB: If the Celtics get the number one pick in the draft, would you trade it for a star or make the selection?
DS: KEEP. THE. PICK. The 2017 draft is bound to be one of the best in recent memory with a handful of players that definitely have All-Star potential. Why would you trade that?
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This interview has been edited for clarity.