The Boston Celtics already have their sights set on the 2014 NBA Draft, and what a draft it promises to be for the boys in Titletown.
In addition to their own first-round pick, which as of right now has the Celtics picking somewhere in the 4th-6th spot in the draft, the Celtics will receive another first-round pick from Brooklyn as part of the deal that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets in the offseason. Granted, the Atlanta Hawks have the power to swap its own first-round pick with Brooklyn’s, if the Hawks have a less-favorable pick, but still, Boston is going to be able to pick twice in the first round of a draft that is absolutely loaded with talent.
Boston’s first-pick will be pretty easy to predict (unless someone in the Celtics organization absolutely loses his mind), as the top-ten college prospects have practically been set in stone since January. However, Boston’s Celtics pick is probably the more critical of the two, as the Celtics’ roster is at least two solid players away from being a playoff-contending team.
I’ve already run a poll here at this site which asked readers which position Boston needs to address the most in this upcoming draft, and the forward position just barely beat out the center position, 137-130 votes. Based on how badly the Celtics have gotten destroyed by teams with size and length this season (Anthony Davis scoring 40 Sunday night, anyone?), it stands to reason that Boston would want to bring some size and power into the paint.
However, once that first pick is used up, the Celtics need to ask the question, “Do we need use our next pick to continue adding size, or do we shift our focus to the guard position?” Since I cannot answer that question, i can at least give you some players to watch in the upcoming NCAA tournament who could wind up being Boston’s second pick in the upcoming draft.
If the Celtics decide to stock up on size . . .
Jerami Grant, Syracuse. Grant probably won’t be available when Boston gets to use its second pick, but if he is, the Celtics would be wise to snatch him. He can score, but his promise lies mostly in his rebounding and defensive capabilities. SU comes into the tournament as a 3 seed, so Boston should get a good 2-3 games at least to scout Grant and see how he performs on the big stage.
Montrezl Harell, Louisville. Harell’s teammate at Louisville, Russ Smith, may have been the MOP of the AAC tournament, a force to be reckoned with, as well. He finished the tourney with a 22 point, 11 rebound, 3 blocked shots performance against Connecticut, and has a 7’4″ wingspan, everyone! He’s rough around the edges, but the potential is there to be an above-the-rim finisher and a solid defender.
If the Celtics look to improve their guard play . . .
Semaj Christon, Xavier. He may not be in the Big Dance for very long, as Xavier is set to play NC State for the right to claim the 12th seed in the Midwest, but if he can carry his team past the Wolfpack, Christon and the Musketeers face a very beatable number five seed in St. Louis. Christon has good speed and a scorer’s mentality, but he also turns the ball over a bit more than you would like from a point guard. Playing behind Rondo, and with Brad Stevens’ guiding him, Christon could be a good get for the Cs.
Russ Smith, Louisville. I’ve been writing a ton of negative scouting reports on Smith, and everywhere I look, he’s projected to be a low second-round pick at best. The knock is
Smith is his height (6’0″) and his shot selection. Someone should poll the teams that Louisville just dismantled in the American Athletic Conference on whether or not Smith needs to improve his shot selection, since he scored 16 (4-7), 42 (14-22), and 19 points (7-18) and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Smith may not be a starter in the NBA . . . but then again, with Rajon Rondo feeding him the ball, he could be the sort of long-range bomber/fast-break leading scoring threat the Celtics need in their backcourt. The Celtics should keep a close eye on him in the tourney, as Smith may wind up being the biggest steal in this year’s draft.
Feel free to chime in with other players you want the Celtics to watch when the Big Dance begins! Obviously, there are many talented players out there, and I can’t cover them all. I’ll be watching the tournament closely, though, so if any player not on this list catches me eye, I will cover them. Thanks!