A Surprise Player Celtics Might Draft With the Third Pick


DraftExpress released their latest mock draft and have the Celtics drafting Marquese Chriss with the third pick in the draft

Dragan Bender, Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray have all been seen as possible players the Boston Celtics might draft with the third pick. One of those three have been the third pick in nearly every mock draft leading up to this point, however, DraftExpress surprised everyone with their selection.

In DraftExpress’ latest mock draft on June 1, they had the Celtics selecting Marquese Chriss, a power forward out of Washington. Chriss continued to get better during his freshman season and is seen as a possible top-ten pick, although I’ve never seen him viewed as a top-five pick until now.

It’s a little surprising at first glance and some may view it as an idiotic pick, however, Marquese Chriss wouldn’t be the worst pick at number three. Maybe Boston could trade down and still draft him while picking up another player but he’d be a really good fit with the Celtics.

He gives the Celtics great size down low at 6’10” and is one of the most athletic power forwards in the draft. There’s no doubt he’d be able to keep up with the Celtics fast-tempo and could end up being one of the best power forwards in the game if he continues to develop at a rapid rate like he did during his freshman season.

At 18-years-old Chriss is still very raw. There are definitely areas that Chriss must improve on, none more so than his defensive rebounding. Despite being 6’10” Chriss only averaged a measly 5.4 rebounds per game. He recorded three or fewer rebounds in 11 of his 34 games as a freshman. Every once in a while he would have a big night on the glass, however, he wasn’t consistent enough to warrant that many bad rebounding games.

He has the size to be a good rebounder, even though his standing reach is somewhat lacking. He doesn’t always box out on defense and isn’t a natural rebounder. Still, it seems weird that he only grabbed 98 defensive rebounds all season but was able to bring down 85 offensive boards.

Chriss is a scorer on offense but that doesn’t stop him from being effective on the glass. He’s willing to go inside on offense to try to create an extra possession but scouts want to see that same intensity on the other end. If he’s as willing of a rebounder on defense and works on his technique then he’ll develop into a double-double machine.

His willingness towards the defensive glass is his biggest question mark leading up to the draft, but there’s little doubt about the offensive player he’ll become. Chriss is as versatile as any big man in this draft on offense.

He only shot 68.5 percent from the free-throw line but his jump shot is a lot farther along than that. He attempted just under two threes a game (1.8) and connected on 35 percent of them.

The longer three-point line may cause him problems early in his career but he’d be a great floor spacer for the Celtics. If he learns to knock down a transition three then he could become extremely valuable on fast breaks. Not to mention that his mid-range game has developed a lot over the course of his freshman season.

He doesn’t have the ball-handling, yet, or passing to lead a fast break as a rookie but his ability to finish alley-oops is something Boston was missing last season. Chriss, as I keep bringing up, is extremely athletic and it doesn’t stop at fast breaks.

If he’s able to become a better ball-handler then he’ll end up being close to impossible to stop. Chriss can already muscle his way inside and finish near the rim. He also has a great first step when driving to the basket and can finish over smaller defenders, although he’s not always capable of putting his head down and attacking the basket.

Not only would it add another facet to his game but it would create more space for his jump shot. Because of his height it’s already extremely hard to block him and it would only get more difficult if he was a threat to get to the basket.

It started to show late in the season when he scored in double-digits in 15 of the final 17 games and at least 15 points in 12 of the final 17. He ended the season averaging 13.8 points per game and 22.1 points per 40 minutes.

Defensively, Chriss has the potential to be a rim protector in the NBA and also guard the perimeter. His lateral quickness is among the best in the draft and he averaged 1.6 blocks per game – 2.6 blocks per 40 minutes. He already has the tools to be a force down low on defense but he needs to do so without fouling.

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He averaged 4.1 fouls per game as a freshman, one of the worst rates in the country. In fact, he only recorded less than three fouls twice as a freshman and fouled out 13 times, including five straight games in the middle of the year. He’s not going to see a lot of minutes early on so it wouldn’t be a huge issue, other than if Boston were close to the limit, however, when his role expands it could put a restriction on how many minutes he plays.

That’s why he only saw 24.9 minutes per game as a freshman despite being the team’s best player.

For all the talk about Dragan Bender being the right choice for the Boston Celtics, DraftExpress may have a point. Chriss is as versatile as Bender and both are entering the draft as raw prospects. Although, Chriss is already an elite shot blocker, when he’s not in foul trouble, and I don’t see Bender ending up as a rim protector in the NBA.

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Their versatility and potential are nearly the same. They may be stronger than the other in certain areas but drafting Chriss with the third overall pick wouldn’t be as crazy as it sounds. In a wide open draft, Chriss could end up being the third best player in the draft down the road.