Celtics 2012 NBA Draft Preview
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BOSTON (CBS) – The NBA Draft is here, and for Boston Celtics fans, anything can happen.
The C’s hold the 21st and 22nd picks in tonight’s draft, and with Danny Ainge at the helm, no Magic 8 Ball can determine what he is thinking.
But one thing is certain: he isn’t going to leave any stone unturned.
“We might make a trade, but generally I would expect to keep them,” Ainge said Wednesday. “We’re preparing to keep them, but we’re also preparing to move up, move back, move for future picks. There are all sorts of things that will be on the table for draft night. I don’t know what we’ll do, whatever we think is best.”
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Ainge later said he’ll have 10 contingency plans Thursday night, and that may be on the lower end of what he really will have scribbled on a piece of paper.
At 21 and 22, the Celtics should be able to land a couple of players that could make an impact next season. Although Ainge said an immediate impact isn’t “critical,” with only four players currently signed for next season, the C’s will need to get something out of their picks.
Even with such low first-round selections, Ainge doesn’t think that will be a problem.
“I’ve said all year I believe that this is a deep draft,” said Ainge. “I think this draft is not necessarily as top-heavy as people think, but there are some good players at the top of the third draft. We’re going to be able to find some good players that will fill a role and contribute to this team.”
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With all that being said, here are a few players that could be wearing green next season, or at least a really nice suit on the bench.
Royce White, PF, Iowa State
Stats: 6-8, 261 lbs; 13.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg last season
White is an athletic forward that the Celtics reportedly promised to pick 21st (the team has refuted that) and wouldn’t be a bad pick for Boston at all. He is an energetic and explosive player who can run the floor, rebound and handle the ball. There are some concerns with an anxiety disorder he suffers, which includes a fear of flying, and a spotty shot, but the Celtics need big bodies. White certainly fits that mold.
Potentially, he could be the guy to take over for Kevin Garnett.
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
Stats: 7-0, 255 lbs; 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 apg
If the Celtics want size, Syracuse’s Fab Melo can give them that. The seven-footer is a great rebounder and defender, averaging nearly three blocked shots a game last season for the Orange. But after that it’s all raw talent, and that includes his basketball IQ. Melo is not known for his offense, and has some off-court issues that could make the Celtics wary.
But if they want a defensive center, Melo is their best bet.
Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Stats: 6-10, 234 lbs; 18.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg last season
Nicholson was a great player for four years with the Bonnies, and really came into his own in his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, he averaged 18.5 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting 57-percent from the floor. Nicholson is a very good shooter, and has shown he can hit the three. He’s benefited greatly from pre-draft workouts, although many scouts believe he should be a better rebounder given his size.
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Draymond Green, F, MSU
Stats: 6-8, 236 lbs; 16.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.8 apg last season
A four-year player for the Spartans, Green is as polished as they come in the NBA Draft. Green is a great shooter (knocking down 45 percent of his shots for Michigan State last year), phenomenal passer and very strong rebounder for his size. He pretty much can do everything, especially the little things on the floor. He would be a great fit for a veteran team, however, he is a man without a position.
Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Stats: 6-9, 268 lbs; 17.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg last season
No one has seen their draft stock drop as much as Sullinger, and the Celtics could reap the benefits. A very strong and smart player, Sullinger pulled down 717 rebounds for the Buckeyes in two years at Ohio State. He’s fairly dominant on the board despite his height, but back issues have seen him drop from a sure-lottery pick to the 20s range.
If the Celtics can land Sullinger with either pick, it could be the steal of the draft.
Terence Jones, SF/PF, Kentucky
Stats: 6-10, 252 lbs; 12.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg last season
Jones is a versatile lefty that can play three, possibly four, positions on the floor. He can score from anywhere, and also dish the ball. With a 7-2 wing span, he is a solid defender and can pull down rebounds. However, it’s not likely Jones is on the board when the Celtics turn comes up. He’ll likely go in the mid to late teens.
Moe Harkless, F, St. John’s
Stats: 6-9, 207 lbs; 15.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg last season
Harkless is an explosive swingman that can rebound and block some shots. He is a very inconsistent shooter though, and his effort is sometimes in question, especially on the defensive end. He spent just one year at St. John’s, averaging 15.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Boston also holds the 51st pick in the second round. Ainge has been able to pluck some gems from the second round, including Glen Davis and Ryan Gomes. Here a few potential picks that might be around for the C’s as the draft comes to a close.
Miles Plumlee, PF, Duke
Stats: 7-0, 252 lbs; 6.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg last season
A four-year player at Duke, Plumlee can be a force on the boards and bring energy to the floor. His stock has risen quite a bit though throughout workouts, so he might not be around for Boston.
Justin Hamilton, C, LSU
Stats: 6-11, 264 lbs; 12.9 points, 7.2 rpg last season
Hamilton could be an option to spend a season in the D-Leauge to fine-tune his game after playing just on year at LSU. Ainge does have an affinity for LSU big-men, drafting Davis and trading for Brandon Bass last season.
Hollis Thompson, SF, Georgetown
Stats: 6-8, 206 lbs; 12.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg last season
A solid three-point shooter that can play small forward of shooting guard.
Quincy Acy, SF, Baylor
Stats: 6-6, 224 lbs; 12.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg last season
A very athletic, but undersized, small forward. Would likely spend a season in Maine.
Tyshawn Taylor, G, Kansas
Stats: 6-4, 177 lbs; 16.6 ppg, 4.8 apg last season
He could be a good combo-guard in the NBA, but lack of leadership is scaring a lot of teams away.
The bottom line is the Celtics need size, and the draft will give them a great opportunity to get bigger. With aging veterans like Paul Pierce and — possibly/hopefully — Kevin Garnett, they need to start sprinkling in youth to the lineup.
Ainge knows this. Whether he adds that youth via the draft, trade, or possibly free agency, is anyone’s guess.