The offseason came early for the Celtics, and Danny Ainge has begun the process of evaluating the 2013 NBA Draft entrants. Ainge has shown he can land good players late in the draft, such as Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Al Jefferson, Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins.
With the Celtics holding the 16th pick in the draft, Ainge is in position to grab another future piece. Last week we took a look at some players the Celtics could be targeting in the upcoming draft. Surely those are just a few of the players on the radar.
Today we’ll take a look at three other players that could fit nicely into the Celtics’ future.
The first is Jamal Franklin of San Diego State University. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard did it all for the Aztecs this past season while leading them to an NCAA tournament appearance. Franklin led his team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, averaging 17 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game, and 1.6 steals per game.
For a Celtics’ roster that struggled to rebound, having a guard with Franklin’s rebounding ability could do wonders on the glass. He is not afraid to mix it up down low, and has a junkyard dog mentality where he’ll fight and scrap for everything. His athletic ability also immediately stands out. He once threw an alley-oop off the backboard to himself during a game.
His size, mentality, and athleticism give him all the tools needed to be a good NBA defender. As Celtics’ fans have seen, no young player will get on the court for Doc Rivers without the ability to play defense. Franklin’s offense has room for improvement, but he’s a strong slasher who finds a way to put the ball in the basket.
You can’t teach height and length, and that is certainly what Rudy Gobert has. The center from France stands in at 7-foot-2 with a ridiculous 7-foot-9 wingspan. The Celtics already took a project big man last draft with Fab Melo, but it may be hard to pass up a 7-footer with this amount of potential.
Gobert’s length makes him a threat to block every shot around the paint. With Garnett’s career in the final stages, Boston will need to find their defensive anchor of the future. It may take a year or two for Gobert to develop into an everyday NBA center though. He weighs just 230 pounds, but appears to have a good frame to add muscle.
Coordination is usually an issue with players the size of Gobert, as seen with Melo. However, despite his size he moves very well. Gobert is someone who could sky rocket up draft boards as the process moves forward. Scouts and general managers tend to fall in love with potential, and Gobert is full of it.
Gobert has the capability of becoming a dominant defensive center, while this next prospect has a way to go on that end.
Kelly Olynyk turned himself into a first round pick with an impressive season at Gonzaga. The Canadian-born center transformed himself into arguably the best offensive post player in the NCAA this past season. He averaged 17.8 ppg while shooting nearly 63 percent from the floor.
His footwork in sensational and he has an array of ways to score once in the paint. Olynyk has even shown the ability to stretch defenses, shooting 33 percent from behind the arc.
As mentioned earlier though, Rivers won’t play young players who cannot defend. The Gonzaga big man lacks foot speed and lateral quickness, which could make it difficult for him to defend the pick and roll at the NBA level. There also has to be some questions concerning the level of competition Olynyk consistently faced. Scoring on mid-major quality big men in the West Coast Conference won’t be quite the same as in the NBA.
Ultimately he could be a solid contributor off the bench, particularly on the offensive end. If the Celtics stay largely intact next year, Olynyk may be able to contribute right away unlike some big men in this draft. With Boston likely looking toward the distant future though, Ainge may pass for a player with greater potential like Gobert.