Celtics Draft Impressions
I was holding out last second hope that the Celtics would make one last push to trade for Love, but that did not happen and as the draft started to unfold the picks became easily clear. Rumors had the Celtics very high on the athlete Aaron Gordon, but when the Magic surprisingly took him at #4 the Celtics had to look at the next option which was Marcus Smart. Smart at #6 was the best player available and does many things that a team can like. Then as the picks began to swing around closer to #17, a player who was high up on boards early in the season, James Young began to slip down the board. The Celtics selected the lengthy shooter at #17 and set up their future with a fierce guard in Smart and a good wing scorer in Young. The draft for the Celtics was a very good one. Here are some thoughts on each of the picks:
· Marcus Smart (6’4 220) PG/SG – 2 Seasons at OKST: 16.6PPG 5.9RPG 4.5APG 2.9SPG
o I have always been a supporter of Marcus Smart in college. I love what he brings to the table. He’s a fierce competitor and brings a great level of intensity and leadership to the floor. While he has his weaknesses, shooting and a temper, there isn’t much at Smart is weak at. He is a bull when he attacks the hoop. He is also a very active and good defender averaging almost three steals per game. Smart has taken over games before, putting the team on his back willing them to victory. Many are quick to call OKST a mediocre team, but they lost their starting center early in the year, which left them very vulnerable inside. If Cobbins does not get hurt, OKST would have been a legit team in March.
o While many are quick to point out Smart’s inconsistent shooting, I think this aspect of his game is underrated. Yes, Smart can’t consistently find his jumpshot off of the dribble and over defenders, but he’s not a guy that you can just leave wide open like Rondo and be okay. The other knock on Smart is that he is a hot tempered player. There was obviously the incident where Smart pushed a Texas Tech fan, but I think he was provoked. I like the fact that Smart has a hot temper. It only adds to his fire and intensity.
o Overall, Marcus Smart has a lot to offer and a lot of potential in this league. He can be a lock down defender. He can find a way to score through attacking and getting to the line if his shot isn’t falling. He is a great leader and competitor. Smart is a very solid all-around player and with a couple seasons in the NBA he could develop into a very good guard.
· James Young (6’6 215) SG/SF – 1 Season at UK: 14.3 PPG 4.3 RPG 1.7 APG
o I’m going to sound like a homer, but yes, I LOVE this pick as well. On my list at #17, I had Young number 1 then Anderson and Napier as other options. I’m very glad to see the Celtics land this lengthy wing scorer. He had a solid but not amazing regular season for the Wildcats, but come March he found his shot and his role in the offense and carried Kentucky a couple games in the tournament. Young didn’t boast the best stats at UK, but he was also on a team with 4-5 other great offensive players. If he is asked to be the #1 or #2 scoring option he can be lethal. Young struggled to light it up percentage wise from deep during the season, only shooting the three at 34%, but he has a very natural stroke and I don’t see this stat as an issue.
o James Young has great length and athleticism to play either the 2 or 3 positions. He would be a very lengthy 2-guard or an average 3. Young has a very long wingspan, which can help him become a disruptive defender as well. He can put his head down and attack the hoop and finish with authority (shown in the Title game). Young can turn into a very effective scorer who could stretch the floor with the deep threat and attack from the wing which the Celtics could really use. This is a very good pick at #17.
o When Marcus Smart was drafted, many people immediately thought: Rondo is gone. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but I don’t think Rondo being traded is a done deal. Marcus Smart has and can play the off-guard position and could be used as just that with the Celtics as they keep Rondo around. I think it could work out if it was given the shot. Smart has played the off-guard position many times before and his game can easily translate into being an off-guard. So I think Rondo may not be gone as others have jumped to.
o I think that the drafting of Smart and Young could mean that BOTH Rondo and Bradley will be gone next season. Bradley will be a RFA come July and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Celtics just letting him walk and throwing Smart and Young into the fire next season at the 2-guard spot. If the Celtics do retain Bradley, I think that he and Rondo are top candidates to be traded as the Celtics may be looking to tank this season again and get more young assets.
o All in all, for not getting Kevin Love, I love what Danny Ainge did in this draft. He didn’t force the issue by moving up and he didn’t trade back either and took the best player available at both #6 and #17. I loved both Smart and Young prior to the draft and the fact that the Celtics are walking away with both of them on the roster makes me very happy. While Danny Ainge predicted that ‘fireworks’ would be in store for the draft, I am certainly okay with what transpired. If both of these players can turn into the players they are supposed to be, the Celtics could have a very solid foundation of Smart-Young-Sullinger and Olynyk to build from and find more young talent. Yes, the Celtics look like they are going down the long rebuild road, so this is what we have to accept and just root for consistent improvement out of the young guys. BUT I still think the Celtics have the assets to get Love while keeping these two guys as well. I think Ainge isn't done with Flip, so we shall see what happens in the end! So as always, through thick and thin, GO CELTICS!