The 2014 NBA Draft is just days away, and the Boston Celtics are one of the many teams looking to improve their team and get themselves set for the future. Luckily for the Celtics, they hold the sixth overall selection, and have the chance to draft a player that could stick with the franchise for years. While there’s plenty of options for the Celtics, one has to wonder whether they choose to draft a big man, or a smaller guard.
Before we break down any prospects, let’s take a look at the Celtics’ current roster, and what they currently have as far as big men and guards.
NOTE: I consider big men power forwards and centers, and smaller players are point guards and shooting guards. Small forwards are important too, but I don’t see Boston finding a suitable small forward with the sixth selection.
PG Rajon Rondo: 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds.
PG/SG Avery Bradley (Restricted Free Agent): 14.9 points, 1.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds.
PG/SG Jerryd Bayless (Unrestricted Free Agent): 9.3 points, 2.7 assists, 2.0 rebounds.
PG Phil Pressey (Unrestricted Free Agent): 2.8 points, 3.2 assists, 1.4 rebounds.
SG Keith Bogans (Unrestricted Free Agent): 2.0 points, 0.5 assists, 0.5 rebounds.
SG Chris Babb (Team Option through 2015-16): 1.6 points per game, 0.2 assists, 1.2 rebounds.
SG Vander Blue (Unrestricted Free Agent): 1.7 points, 0.3 assists, 1.0 rebounds.
PF/C Jared Sullinger: 13.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists.
PF/C Kris Humphries (Unrestricted Free Agent): 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists.
PF Brandon Bass: 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists.
C Kelly Olynyk: 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists.
C Vitor Faverani: 4.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists.
C Joel Anthony: 0.8 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.1 assists.
Well, the first thing you notice when you see this is the amount of guards the Celtics have on their roster.
Rajon Rondo is easily the best player on the team, and their franchise player that they are currently building around. Avery Bradley is known for his top notch perimeter defense, but flashed some signs of life on offense this season.
Bayless, a mid-season acquisition, played the role of backup guard for Boston this year. He didn’t exactly wow anyone, but he played enough to earn the spot. Phil Pressey came in as an undrafted rookie, but showed enough talent to get some meaningful minutes in the rotation.
The other three, Blue, Bogans, and Babb, didn’t make a huge impact on the Celtics’ season. Bogans and Blue are likely to walk away this summer, while Babb could come back as a reserve role.
Despite all of the guards they have, six of them are set for free agency, with starting shooting guard Avery Bradley being one of them. While it’s safe to say Boston could re-sign some of the guards, a few of them could be handed their walking papers.
Looking at what’s around at the sixth spot in the draft for Boston, there’s really only one option; Marcus Smart.
Yes, Dante Exum is projected to be that high in the draft, but with Joel Embiid‘s injury likely knocking him down the boards, Exum is likely to fly up, maybe even to the top pick.
In Marcus Smart, Boston could be getting one of the best players in the entire draft–18.0 points per game, with 5.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
Smart is one of the most complete players in this draft class. Taking Smart would essentially mean that one of Rondo or Bradley won’t be staying with Boston.
Bradley, an RFA, will be hitting the market this summer, and looking to cash in on his impressive season. Bringing in Smart could give Boston a great scoring option at either point guard or shooting guard.
Heading over to power forward or center, there’s several more options for Boston.
First off, the competition for starting power forward and center are still up for grabs. Jared Sullinger will most likely be holding on to one of those starting jobs come next season. That leaves Kelly Olynyk, who impressed in his rookie season; Kris Humphries, acquired in the Garnett/Pierce deal; and Brandon Bass.
Kris Humphries is hitting free agency this summer, and it’s yet to be announced whether Boston will look to re-sign him.
Let’s say for the sake of the argument that Humphries is back in Boston next season, and we’re looking at the same big man rotation we saw this year, for the most part.
It did the job, but it does need some help, like most of the roster does. What separates elite teams from bottom of the barrel teams at times is an elite center, or at least an intimidating post presence.
Having this could cause Boston to stand out in the Eastern Conference. There’s several guys Boston could go after to make such a thing happen, starting with one of the biggest names in the draft: Joel Embiid.
Embiid, once considered the likely No. 1 overall pick, recently underwent foot surgery which will keep him out for several months, and likely keep him out of the first few picks.
If he was to fall to Boston at No. 6, he might just be the best option. He looks like a “once in a generation” type player, with his post skills, rebounding, and defensive abilities, and could come in and fill in that hole at center which Boston has been desperately looking to fill since Kendrick Perkins was traded.
Now let’s say Embiid is gone by the time Boston is up, or they simply choose not to take him, there are still a few other solid options.
If they want to go for the athletic power forward route, Aaron Gordon is your man. Averaging 12.4 points and 8.0 rebounds, Arizona’s Gordon was one of the most impressive freshman all season.
Bringing him in means Sullinger could move to center, and Jeff Green/Aaron Gordon could form a very formidable and athletic forward tandem.
Option No. 2 if Embiid isn’t the guy at No 6 is Noah Vonleh. Vonleh, a freshman out of Indiana University, has been flying up the draft boards as of late.
His 7’5″ wingspan makes scouts drool, especially when you consider that he doesn’t turn 19 years old until August. As a freshman, he already showed impressive rebounding abilities while still having to fill out his lengthy frame. He may not be the most NBA-ready prospect out of the other potential draftees, but his skills and his body make him one of the more attractive prospects heading forward.
With the sixth pick, Boston has plenty of options to help their team.
While Marcus Smart is a great prospect, Boston might be able to fill a bigger need if they elect to pick a big man. The Celtics could simply bring back Avery Bradley this summer to pair with Rajon Rondo, thus eliminating the need for Smart.
While we won’t know anything until draft night, it looks like it may be in the Celtics’ favor to draft big as opposed to a guard.