The Boston Celtics are just eight games away from the end of a long 2013-14 NBA season and immediately the attention will turn to the offseason and in particular the NBA Draft. While the Celtics’ own first-round pick may well end up being a highly coveted top five selection, it should not be overlooked that the Celtics’ also own a second selection in the first round, which will be conveyed by the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics receive the latter of the Nets’ and the Hawks’ first round picks as part of the deal that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets in the offseason and with a surge in 2014 the Nets have separated themselves and it will now clearly be that selection that is forwarded on to the Celtics. Currently slated to be the 18th pick in the much-hyped 2014 draft, let’s take a look at five players the Celtics could consider in June with the Brooklyn draft pick.
Nik Stauskas – Michigan
Few players have shown more improvement in college basketball this season than sophomore swingman Nik Stauskas. The sharpshooting guard has shown dramatic improvement in his ability to create off the dribble and drive into the lane, which complimented his elite outside shooting. The Celtics are in dire need of consistent outside shooting and there may be none better in the 2014 draft than Stauskas. A sniper from the outside, Stauskas would find himself with open looks at the basket playing alongside a point guard like Rajon Rondo and could play a significant role for the team as early as next season. He may be off the board by 18 after an impressive season, but if he is still there when the Celtics are called for a second time he should be snapped up immediately.
Willie Cauley-Stein – Kentucky
The Celtics are in desperate need of rim protection and some defensive length to play alongside the likes of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk in the frontcourt. While he may still be raw and have a lot to learn, sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein has the size and athleticism most big men could only dream of and was an elite shot blocking presence in the NCAA. He is a mobile athlete that defends the rim as well as the passing lanes, runs the floor impressively for a man his size and has the athleticism to finish lobbed passes around the basket. While he would be a project early on, at this late stage of the first round it would be hard to pass on a player with Caule-Stein’s physical attributes.
James Young – Kentucky
Kentucky freshman James Young may be a raw product at this stage but you would be hard pressed to find a player with higher potential outside the lottery. Young has good size for an NBA wing and a huge wingspan that gives him great defensive potential. He is a capable shooter both as a catch and shoot player or creating separation off the dribble. Young plays with good energy and can contribute on the boards, adding to what could be a tremendous all-around talent if he continues to develop. He would likely be a few years away from contributing in the NBA, but he could be a rewarding long-term investment for any team later in the first round.
Jordan Adams – UCLA
UCLA shooting guard Jordan Adams has been seemingly underrated on draft boards throughout the season and appears to be one of the most well-rounded prospects at the shooting guard position. He is a creative scorer who can shoot from the outside as well as drive into the lane with great success. He plays under control for a 19 year old and has experience playing alongside a ball-dominant player in Kyle Anderson at UCLA. With the lack of scorers on the Celtics roster, as well as the uncertainty around Avery Bradley in free agency, Adams could be a solid pick who could contribute almost immediately for the Celtics at the two-guard position.
Rodney Hood – Duke
Sophomore forward Rodney Hood is another example of a wing scorer that could really help the struggling Celtics in the offensive department. With good size for a small forward, Hood can shoot right out to the NBA three point line, is capable from mid-range but can also take his man off the dribble right into the paint. He can score and find shots in a variety of ways which should allow him to contribute immediately, especially given some of the gifted passers on the Celtics’ roster. Hood will need to continue to work on his body, which he has done a good job of this season, before he can compete with the bigger more athletic wing players in the NBA, but shows all the signs of being a solid contributor and could be a valuable pick-up for the Celtics with the Brooklyn draft pick.