The Boston Celtics began working out some big-name prospects Wednesday, with players such as Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, and Doug McDermott headlining the two days of workouts that will resume Thursday.
There is very little doubt that at least one of those big-name prospects will be available when it’s the Celtics turn to pick in the upcoming NBA Draft; however, the Celtics also hold the 17th pick in the draft, and it’s utterly implausible to believe that any of these prospects will still be on the board by that point.
In order to gain some insight as to who the Celtics are targeting for their second pick, then, you need to look past the marquee names and focus on the players you probably have never heard of: Isaiah Austin. Sam Dower. Javon McCrae. Daniel Miller. Artem Klimenko.
Wait – who?
Artem Klimenko is a 7-footer out of Russia, a potential diamond in the rough currently playing in Russia’s less-than-ultra-talented second division. However, Klimenko possesses one valuable skill that cannot be taught – size – and appears to have about as high a ceiling for growth as any prospect in the draft not named Aaron Gordon. Let’s take a look at what a few prospect sites have to say about Klimenko.
First, I headed over to Draft Express, where I found these assessments:
Klimenko’s biggest appeal as a prospect starts with his very impressive physical tools, which put him in a rare and highly coveted class of big men. He has excellent size, having measured just a hair under 7-feet without shoes in at the adidas EuroCamp in 2012, to go along with a superb 7-4 wingspan and 9-4 standing reach. His frame is underdeveloped at the moment but shows serious promise, as he shouldn’t have any issue seemingly topping out at 250-260 pounds with a proper strength and conditioning regimen.
On top of that, Klimenko is extremely mobile for his size, as he runs the floor like a deer and is capable of playing above the rim thanks to his solid leaping ability. . .
Klimenko also shows some flashes as a mid-range jump-shooter, something his team likes to showcase at times. He can hit a 15-17 footer with solid mechanics and good touch, and also converted 74% of his numerous free throw attempts on the season, which is impressive at his size.
Klimenko’s mobility extends to the defensive end, where he shows nice potential stepping outside of the paint and hedging screens, especially for a player his size. . . .
So, he’s tall, has a huge wingspan, and is mobile to boot? That combination is incredibly hard to find, and is enough to help me understand why the Celtics are working the raw Russian out. Never content to consult just one source, though, I chose NBADraft to provide a second opinion:
As a 7-1 big man, he has perfect size for the center position, combined with great coordination, mobility and good athleticism by European standards …7’4” wingspan and 9’4” standing reach gives him tremendous size, with a frame that could easily allow him to add muscle without losing balance or mobility … He has good footwork and lateral speed, which makes him really effective in Pick and Roll situations on both ends of the court … Furthermore his mobility makes him really effective in the open court, being an effective offensive weapon both on primary and secondary transition situations ….
Overall, NBADraft gave Klimenko a rating of 85, with scores of 9/10 in size and 8/10 in defense and his jump shot.
Of course, both DraftExpress and NBADraft point out that Klimenko possesses many weaknesses that any team that drafts him will have to address immediately; namely, the fact that he has spent most of his career playing against talent that ranks below that of the average D-Leaguer, and the fact that Russian players almost never pan out in the NBA. It would be sheer suicide for any team to gamble and waste a top ten pick on him . . . but should a team like the Celtics, who lack size at the center position, consider him worthy of the 17th pick?
It’s a tough call. Most experts predict that Klimenko could fall within the 20-40 range, so Boston could be guilty of overvaluing him if they use their second pick to draft him at number 17. However, since the Celtics do not have a second round draft pick, the team would have no choice but to snag him a bit earlier than expected if they decide they like what they see from him in his workout.
Personally, Artem Klimenko sounds like a high-risk that Boston cannot afford to take – but I’ll let you watch DraftExpress’ scouting video of him and let you decide for yourselves!