The Boston Celtics didn’t trade Rajon Rondo. They didn’t get Kevin Love. They didn’t even complete a reported trade that would have netted them Ben McLemore and the 8th pick in exchange for the 6th pick. The Celtics stood pat and clearly stuck to the best available player approach that a rebuilding team should be adhering to. For the Celtics it was actually a pretty quiet 1st round at the 2014 NBA Draft.
With that being said, both Marcus Smart and James Young are somewhat polarizing players. If you were to look through the Celtics depth chart you wouldn’t think they fill any needs. But again, that shouldn’t matter. The Celtics needed to get whoever they felt were the best players available. That’s what they did.
#6: Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
With the way the first five picks played out it was obvious that the Celtics were choosing between Smart, Julius Randle, and Noah Vonleh. Reports emerged during the draft that it was down to Smart and Randle. They went with the physically imposing combo guard and within minutes the internet erupted with rumors involving Rajon Rondo. Rondo may very well be traded in the next eight months, but it has nothing to do with the Celtics taking Smart. Avery Bradley is a restricted free agent, and besides, Smart is immediately better than Bradley anyway. There are doubts about Smart’s ability to truly run a team due to his high turnover rate in college but he actually fits in quite nicely with Rondo.
He’ll be an outstanding defender in the NBA right away and will have no problem getting to the rim. His well-documented shooting issues will need to be addressed and he’ll have to learn to play within the flow of the offense but Smart has the physical tools to be an All-Star. He’s a great athlete, though not a freakish vertical one like Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose. But he’s a bull. He gets to the line. He welcomes contact.
I still think Randle and Vonleh may have been better options but the Celtics really couldn’t go wrong with any of those three. They made a solid, if unspectacular, first pick.
#17: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
Here’s a guy who will be able to shoot, run the floor, and defend early in his career. Many thought Young would go in the lottery so this is a solid value pick as well. The Celtics are in desperate need of reliable scorers and Young should develop into a decent third option in time. He’s no franchise-changer, but he’s as talented of a player as you can hope for outside the lottery.
Young needs to work on his ball-handling which would allow him to create his own shot. Despite his athleticism, he’s not a great finisher. But much like with Smart, all the physical tools are there. There were stretches where Young lit it up for Kentucky. And there will be stretches when he lights it up in the NBA.
This rebuild is going to take some time, and there’s a lot to be sorted out this offseason. But the picks made in the first round were a step in the right direction.