For what seems like months, we drool over NBA prospects, compile mock drafts, fantasize about who would fit in well with out team. Then, the draft night finally comes. What we thought were locks in the lottery start to slip. Some reaches are made (Dion Waiters, Terrence Ross). After four and a half hours of David Stern and Adam Silver announcing picks, it’s all over.
The day after the draft is for analysis on each team’s picks, the winners and losers as well as some undrafted guys we would like to see picked up. Right now, I’m going to look at our draft in specific and what I think about each of the three guys we selected.
There were rumors yesterday we were trying feverishly to move up into the late lottery or even higher. Later, it was disclosed that the Celtics’ top-target was Austin Rivers. I like Rivers and think he will be a much better pro than collegiate player, but I was glad we didn’t make that move.
So instead of trading up, Danny Ainge and the Celtics stayed put and held on to their three selections: 21, 22 and 51. At pick #21, the Celtics selected Jared Sullinger. The big man stands at 6-9 and weighs in at about 270 pounds. He’s a true low-post presence and some said he was the best low-post scorer in the entire draft. Sounds like it fills a void on our roster, right?
So why was he the second biggest slider in the draft (behind Perry Jones III)? He was red-flagged by NBA doctors with a back problem. At pick #21, the reward far outweighs the risk. The Celtics actually came out and said that they had Jared Sullinger ranked as a top-10 talent in this year’s draft and, without the back injury, I think most teams would have agreed. Assuming he can stay healthy, this is a great pick.
What can Sullinger bring to the table? First off, he’s a great character guy and brings an unbelievable amount of basketball IQ to the floor. He’s a very good rebounder (another weakness of the Celtics) and has developed a jump shot out to the college three point line.
A lot of people are throwing around Glen Davis comparisons, but I couldn’t disagree more. Sullinger is taller, longer and has better hands than Big Baby. Sullinger has a much better post game at this point of his career than Davis ever had and is developing a jump shot to go with it. He’s a better rebounder as well. The part that kills the comparison is attitude. Sullinger is a guy you love to add to your locker room. He won’t be crying on the bench or break his hand punching his friend. Sullinger, from day one, will be better than Glen Davis was as a rookie.
My grade for the Jared Sullinger pick: A-. The reason it doesn’t get an A or an A+ is because of the medical concern, but at this point of the draft, you can overlook the back problem.
With out second of back-to-back picks, the Celtics continued to improve their depth of big men by selecting center Fab Melo. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Melo seemed to be a polarizing figure between Celtic fans. I can see both sides of the argument.
Fab Melo is a 7-footer, something the Celtics roster currently does not have. He is a good athlete at his height and has impressive agility to go with it. Sitting in he middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, he was an instant-impact defender in the paint as he was a premier shot blocker (2.9 per game). He looks to dunk everything around the rim, which would be a welcomed addition to this team. Our roster lacks athletes, but Melo is certainly a more than an adequate athlete at the center position.
What are some of Melo’s weaknesses? Knowing that Fab Melo is seven feet tall is great, but when you see his pedestrian rebound number (5.8 per game in 25+ minutes) you have to worry. How can an athletic big man sitting in the middle of a 2-3 zone not grab more rebounds than that? I said before that he likes to dunk everything around the rim. That’s probably because that is the only form of offense he has at this point of his career as he is more raw than sushi.
Off the court, there are more issues. Last year as a sophomore at Syracuse, he was suspended on two different occasions for academic issues. Yes, I understand that English is not his first language being from Brazil, but how much work does an elite athlete actually need to do in order to stay eligible to play collegiate sports? On top of that, his second suspension came on the eve of the NCAA tournament.
My grade on the pick is a B-. I do like that the Celtics continued to address their need for big men and Fab Melo does have some room to grow as he made great strides from his freshman to sophomore seasons. At that pick, I would have liked to see us take Perry Jones III, a top-10 talent. Time will tell if Fab Melo will be another Brendan Haywood or Kwame Brown.
With our final pick of the draft (#51 overall), we took Fab Melo’s Syracuse teammate Kris Joseph. I love when teams take college teammates and pair them at the professional ranks. The Celtics did that last season with JaJuan Johnson and E’twaun Moore. The Hornets even did that last night with Anthony Davis and Darius Miller. Hopefully pairing Joseph and Melo will help their learning curves and they can teach each other the nuances of the Celtics offensive and defensive sets.
Kris Joseph has continued to grow throughout his four seasons in college. He came in lacking any semblance of a three-point shot. Now, he is capable of knocking down the long jumper. At 6-7 and 215 pounds, he is an excellent athlete and could develop into a decent defender and slasher at the next level. His rebounding, like Melo, should have been better playing that zone. He’s got the physical tools to be at the very least a 12th man and great practice player.
For a pick in the second round, I have to give the pick a B. With only nine picks left after us in the draft, there was pretty slim pickings. Joseph could turn out to stick with the team. If he gets cut, it won’t hurt us at all.
My overall grade for the Celtics draft is a B+. The Fab Melo pick keeps me from giving them an A. I just think that there are big deficiencies in his game that will translate from college to the pros. The lack of rebounding from an athletic 7-footer is alarming, but he does have some room to grow. At the very least, he will come in and be a threat to block some shots, something we didn’t do much of last season. Sullinger is being talked about as one of the steals of the draft. All-in-all, I can say I’m very content with our selections.
In Danny we trust!