Evaluating Jordan Mickey’s Importance

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The Boston Celtics went into the draft with plenty of needs, but the one everyone expected them to address was their interior defense and shot blocking. The Celtics then went in the complete opposite direction. They drafted 3 guards leaving just one pick to bring some improvement with rim protection.

Celtics fans are hoping the team will get some better shot blockers in free agency but it remains a possibility that the bulk of the load will fall onto the shoulders of Jordan Mickey.

Mar 19, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; LSU Tigers forward Jordan Mickey (25) dribbles the ball between North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Abdul-Malik Abu (0) and Wolfpack guard Trevor Lacey (1) during the second half in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Consol Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Mickey presents and interesting dilemma for the Celtics as he comes in as an elite shot blocker out of college but he remains undersized for his position. He lacks the size and strength to be a great post defender but his athleticism allows him to have an impact by blocking shots.

The Celtics get very little shot blocking from anyone else on the roster. The hope is that Tyler Zeller will improve that aspect of his game but as it stands how, Mickey may already be a better shot blocker than the 7 footer as he averaged a phenomenal 3.3 per game and was among the leaders in the SEC and the NCAA in both of his seasons at LSU.

The Celtics will depend a lot more on Mickey’s shot blocking than they will depend on anything from some backup guards. Mickey may not have as much upside but he may be the most impactful player during his rookie season.

If Mickey can manage to impact opposing offenses with his shot blocking then the Celtics should have a solid defense. They may not all be on the roster but Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, and Jae Crowder are all phenomenal perimeter defenders so if they get any kind of rim protection behind them the Celtics will be one of the most improved defensive teams in the NBA.

The problem with Mickey is that if he does not adapt to the additional size and strength in the NBA then he will have little to no value for the Celtics. It will be very difficult for him to match the offensive production of the stretch 4s on the Celtics and he could begin to hurt the offense with his turnovers.

The most concerning aspect of Mickey’s game are his turnovers. He will need to have a spectacular impact on the defensive end if he is not capable of hitting shots and is turning the ball over too much.

Mickey has the potential to be the most important player out of this rookie class for the Celtics. If any one of the guards do not contribute immediately it will be much easier to make up for that with the players currently on the roster. The Celtics have depth at the guard position and that will give Rozier, Hunter and Thorton a chance to learn from the bench.

Even though Mickey may also need that time to develop he is more likely to be thrust into game action before he is ready. The Celtics will be more willing to take a chance on the potential shot blocker than any one of the other guards.

Mickey is also the safest player from the Celtics’ draft class. The Celtics have an unprecedented collection of guards now and chances are more than one will be cut or traded and that goes for the three that were drafted. Mickey, on the other hand, presents something completely new to the Celtics.

The Celitcs have no big that is defensive minded and have no other player whose biggest strength is their shot blocking. Mickey may be under the most pressure to immediately perform and there is no doubt that he will have a legitimate opportunity at the starting unit if he can avoid being a liability on the offensive end.

Terry Rozier or R.J Hunter will more than likely have to play the shooting guard position if they want to be a part of the starting unit, whereas Mickey has a great opportunity to overtake Brandon Bass as the starting power forward. The problem for Mickey is there are also a lot of other offensively geared power forwards on the depth chart.

Mar 29, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Terry Rozier (0) passes the ball against Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) and forward Matt Costello (10) during the second half in the finals of the east regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

If Mickey does not improve his outside shooting then he will, at the very best, be splitting playing time with the likes of Jared Sullinger or Jonas Jerebko who have already proven what they are capable of on the offensive end.

Mickey may be in the most difficult position of all the Celtics’ draft picks but he also is in the best position to be a day one contributor and have a substantial impact on the team.

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