BOSTON (CBS) — With the NBA Draft lottery a thing of the past, we can now get into the full swing of the NBA Draft season.
That means lots and lots of mock drafts. Be prepared.
Everyone has an opinion of where each of this year’s prized prospects will end up, but we won’t know for sure until June 26.
The Boston Celtics own a pair of first-round picks this year with the sixth and 17th overall selections. Many believe that they will trade at least one of those picks, likely No. 6, for a veteran player to put alongside point guard Rajon Rondo. But there remains a chance that they actually use that selection, hoping to add a young player for the future (or another asset to Danny Ainge’s stockpile of potential trade bait).
Follow: Kevin Love Trade Rumors
Here is a six-pack of potential selections for the Celtics with the sixth overall pick:
UPDATE: With Joel Embiid’s foot surgery, the Kansas center’s draft stock has taken a big hit. He’s dropped from potential first overall pick to anywhere between fourth and mid-lottery, and the Celtics could take a chance on the injured big man.
Julius Randle — 6-9, 250-lb PF from Kentucky
At just 19 years old Randle was a pretty imposing presence in the paint (at least among college kids), averaging over 10 rebounds per game for Kentucky as a freshman. He can clean up the glass on both ends of the floor, as he finished the season with 140 offensive rebounds in 40 games. Randle logged double-doubles in four of the Wildcats’ six NCAA tournament games, and scored 20-plus points seven times throughout the season.
Randle has a good mid-range shot, but his critics will say he doesn’t spend enough time in the paint. There are concerns that he may be too small to be a successful power forward in the NBA given his sub-seven-foot wingspan (insert T-Rex arms joke here).
CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish has the Celtics selecting Randle in his first post-lottery mock draft, and here is what he has to say about the power forward:
Think of all of the great freshmen who have played at Kentucky, then understand Randle recorded more double-doubles (24) this past season than any of them. His upside isn’t that of Wiggins or Embiid. But Randle still projects as a possible future All-Star.
Noah Vonleh — 6-10, 240-lbs PF from Indiana
The Haverhill native didn’t receive the fanfare that Randle did this season, but many say he has more upside than the former Kentucky big man. He has a solid shot (shooting 52 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range) and though his post-game needs some work, he is still growing. He won’t turn 19 until August, and there’s a good chance Vonleh gets even bigger from his 6-foot-10 frame and 7-foot-3 wingspan over the next few years. He’s an active rebounder on both ends of the floor and can move well for a big man.
Two of Vonleh’s best assets are his freakishly large hands, and you know what they say about a player with big mitts — they are usually pretty good at rebounding the basketball. He averaged nine rebounds per game for the Hoosiers as a freshman, logging 13 double-digit rebound games and 10 double-doubles.
Here is what NBA.com’s Scott Cooper had to say of Vonleh, who he has the Celtics picking in his mock draft:
Vonleh can play physical inside or step outside and hit shots from the perimeter, a promising start after one season as one of the fast-risers on the board. He is going in a very good direction.
Aaron Gordon — 6-9, 225-lbs PF from Arizona
Some have compared Gordon to Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers, while others have said he could be one of the bigger busts in the draft. He’s a very gifted athlete who plays with a lot of energy and scouts say has a very high basketball IQ. He’s a very solid defender, though he lacks an overall offensive game (despite being able to finish with authority).
He averaged 12.4 points, eight rebounds and two assists per game as a freshman for the Wildcats, and if given time to grow could turn into a very good player in the NBA.
ESPN’s Chad Ford has the Celtics selecting Gordon in his mock draft, and here is his take on the pick:
The Celtics will likely shop this pick, though at No. 6 I am not sure exactly what they can get for it. They have been high on Gordon for a while, and I think this would be a very good fit for them. Offensively he is a bit raw, but I think his intangibles as a defender and energy guy will make up for a lot of that. He changes the game with his athleticism in ways that are hard to quantify.
Marcus Smart — 6-3, 227-lbs PG from Oklahoma State
Changing pace from the trio of power forwards (a position the Celtics have plenty of bodies to play) brings us to Smart, who would be an intriguing pick for Boston. With Rajon Rondo quarterbacking the offense, Smart could back up Rondo or play alongside him at the two-guard (or, by drafting Smart the Celtics could then deal Rondo). Smart is quick, strong, and commended for his instincts on the court. His solid court-vision makes him a very good playmaker, and he’s a pesky defender who averaged three steals per game in his two years at Oklahoma State.
Smart averaged 18 points and 4.8 assists per game for the Cowboys last season, but his shooting (42 percent from the floor in 2013-14) and turnovers (2.6 per game) need work.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated has the Celtics taking Smart in his mock draft. Here is what he had to say about the pick:
As noted above, the last time the Celtics had a top-10 pick they traded it. This selection could be trade bait, too, especially with Love reportedly willing to sign an extension with Boston. If the Celtics keep the pick, Smart is appealing as a physical point guard who can complement Rajon Rondo now and potentially replace him down the road.
Dario Saric — 6-10, 225-lbs F from Croatia
With their abundance of power forwards, the Celtics could use shooter on the wing with the sixth pick. If they go that route, they may take a look at international star Dario Saric.
He’s viewed as a “point-forward” by scouts, and while his biggest knock is lack of athleticism, he’s been lauded for being able to play well both with and without the ball. He started playing with a pro team in Europe at the age of 17, and has been on NBA scouts’ radars since helping lead Croatia to back-to-back gold medal finishes in the under-16 and under-18 Fiba European Championships, leading each of those teams in most offensive categories.
Here’s a quick look at Saric’s game (for however long you can stand the music):
Doug McDermott — 6-7, 2200lbs SF from Creighton
Sticking with the Celtics needing a scoring wing player, the consensus National Player of the Year could fill that void. Sixth overall is a little high for McDermott, who possesses plenty of offensive skills but needs to work on his overall game.
But if scoring is what the Celtics want, scoring is what McDermott could give them. He averaged 21.7 points per game over his four-year career at Creighton, shooting 59 percent from the floor and 46 percent beyond the arc. There are plenty concerns about his game translating to the NBA, much like Jimmer Ferdette in 2011, but McDermott averaged 26.7 points per game as a senior against some tough Big East opposition to add to his four-year resume of stellar offensive play.
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