Leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft – in the stretch run now — we are going to preview each team in the lottery for their needs. Taking a look at each team’s individual strengths, weaknesses, roster, and what prospects would fit in with their current and future plans.
The Boston Celtics have not drafted this high and actually kept the player since they drafted Antoine Walker No. 6 Overall back in 1996 during the Rick Pitino Era. Generally, at least under the guidance of general manager Danny Ainge, a high draft pick is an asset for a future trade. How will the team handle this pick with plenty of talent to choose from?
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Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.
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ONE: 2014-2015 Potential Roster Review
Well, there is not much to preview. Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace, Joel Anthony, Avery Bradley (Qualifying Offer), Kelly Olynyk, and Jared Sullinger are the only players under contract. Add in a rookie from this year’s lottery and the Celtics have nine players under contract with only two of them returning after playing all 82 games last year. Everyone else was a test run from Phil Pressey to Jordan Crawford. They will get to rebuild the roster nearly from scratch either around, or with, this year’s lottery pick.
TWO: Biggest Strengths
Last year the team feels like they nailed the head coach with Brad Stevens and his teaching style with the young players. He is a big asset with how young the roster will be going forward as the team continues to rebuild. While Rondo has the reputation for not being a leader, he is a former All-Star and NBA Champion that will steer the ship until they change course. Rondo, along with three year veteran Bradley, and last year’s first round pick, Olynyk, are the core of the team. Middle-of-the-pack veterans like Green and Bass played their roles last year but are not likely to be the future of the franchise. Their biggest strength is having the opportunity to evaluate young talent like Pressey, Sullinger, Vander Blue, Jerryd Bayless, and others while drafting high enough each year to accelerate the rebuilding process.
THREE: Biggest Weaknesses
One of the more frustrating benefits from blowing up an entire roster to get a star and missing out on said star is having a blank canvas as a roster. On the one hand, it is a benefit, but on the other hand it’s frustrating to build around no identity, no style, and basically just throwing talent together until it works. That is what the Celtics face with only Rondo, Bradley, and Olynyk as potential pieces for the future. All could be trade assets, building blocks, or future role players. That is the team’s biggest weakness going forward; uncertainty.
FOUR: Odds In The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery
Back before the lottery balls bounced the wrong way for the Celtics they had a 33.4 percent chance of moving up into the Top 3, a 23.7 percent chance of staying pat at No. 5, and a 34.2 percent chance at falling back to No. 6 like they did. Now they might still have a chance at a top star with the recent news of Joel Embiid’s foot fracture.
FIVE: Recent History of the No. 6 Pick
Last year, Nerlens Noel fell here because of his medical red flags and took the season off completely. In 2012 the NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard was drafted here. Such a wide pendulum just in the span of one year with this pick. Other picks in recent years have been Jan Vesely (European Blake Griffin), Ekpe Udoh, Danilo Gallinari, Yi Jianlian, Brandon Roy, and Martell Webster. None of those players provide a blanket of confidence for Celtics fans.
Five Prospects That Make Sense For The Boston Celtics At No. 6 Overall
1. Joel Embiid: 7-0, 250 pounds – C, Kansas
Stats: (In 23.1 MPG) 11.2 PPG 8.1 RPG 2.6 BPG 62.6 percent FG
The teams selecting in the top three are scared, but Boston would gladly select the oft-injured big man with his potential to impact the game on both sides of the floor. This would be a home run for Ainge after falling back a spot in the lottery and then winning by selecting the consensus No. 1 overall prospect.
2. Jabari Parker: 6-8, 235 pounds – F, Duke
Stats: (In 30.7 MPG) 19.1 PPG 8.7 RPG 35.8 percent 3PT
Another home run here with the most dynamic scorer in the entire draft who can play both the three, the four and score off the ball playing with Rajon Rondo. Parker needs to get in shape and improve his defense, both traits that Boston can assist with right away.
3. Julius Randle: 6-9, 250 pounds – PF, Kentucky
Stats: (In 30.8 MPG) 15.0 PPG 10.4 RPG 50.1 percent FG
A scrappy, young, athletic power forward who can play off of Rondo in the high post is a nice building block for the team. He has the ability to be a face-up four making plays from the high post and should be a double-double machine no matter the situation.
4. Noah Vonleh: 6-9.75, 247 pounds – PF Indiana
Stats: (In 26.5 MPG) 11.3 PPG 9.0 RPG 52.3 percent FG
Vonleh is the best combination of size, length, defense, and rebounding for a post player in this year’s draft. He has basically the same measurements of Chris Bosh with a solid jump shot, defensive instincts beyond his age, and already prides himself on the glass. A blue collar, blue chipper.
5. Dante Exum: 6-6, 196 pounds – G, Australia
Stats: (2013 FIBA U19 Championships) 18.2 PPG 3.8 APG 33.3 percent 3PT
Rajon Rondo insurance is always a must and the Australian combo-guard could develop into a dynamic point guard. Learning for a year behind or at times next to the all-star point guard will help polish his feel, decision-making, and instincts. Already a better shooter and scorer than Rondo was at this stage in his development.
When your building blocks are Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk there is no position of need and best player available has to be the thought process. For the Celtics at No. 6 there should be a piece they can add to the puzzle going forward with Bradley and Olynyk in a very slow-burning rebuilding process.
What do you think?
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