Saturday, June 30, 2012

Green Go Big

The NBA Draft took place last night with the Boston Celtics picking at 21 and 22.  Despite all the wild rumors swirling about the trade activity on draft day, surprisingly teams stayed put and made their picks, the Celtics included. No big names going anywhere on draft day, and no packages to move up into the lottery.  The rumored Rivers family reunion never got off the ground and the Celtics sat in the early twenties with two picks in a draft with no discernible difference between the players selected from #4 overall and #29 overall.


Just like they did a few years ago with Avery Bradley, General Manager Danny Ainge went for high-risk/high-reward rather than the usual "scrub-time at best loser" or "draft and follow foreigner" who is available there.   Bradley, who was rated ahead of #1 overall pick John Wall, had run into pre-draft injuries concerns (he "had an ankle" as they say), teams disagreeing if he was a point guard or shooting guard reducing potential value, and finally he had Rick Barnes as his coach when at Texas who did not seem to know what to do with him there all year.  Looking past all that, Danny Ainge grabbed him up and now he has displaced future-hall-of-fame player Ray Allen in Boston.  Looking back at the 2010 draft, who would be picked ahead of Bradley in a re-draft? John Wall, maybe (that's a toss-up right now); DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe (they're BIG!), sure, depending on how you value size versus a 2 guard;  #2 overall pick Evan Turner? I doubt it. FYI, these are the lottery picks here. How about who was drafted around Bradley? Larry Sanders, Luke Babbitt, Kevin Seraphin, or Eric Bledsoe? No, no, no, and NO! (Bonus: right after him went James Anderson. Ugh.)  A lot of turds are found in the teens and twenties of the draft.  Finding the rare gem is an art that obviously is neither easy nor any sure thing.


Now, the Celtics have scooped up Jared Sullinger, who had dropped from lottery pick to complete free-fall due to a back problem (or "bulging dicks" as hilariously misspoken by Andy Katz on ESPN on draft night) and lack of athleticism.  Sullinger is a fit if only to give Kevin Garnett 20 minutes of rest a night.  Sullinger can play the four, play down low with his back to the basket, and basically be a scoring option on the post, which is an essential need.  Yes, he will take time to be NBA ready, even if he is healthy.   At best, he is a member of the bench rotation who can score.  That alone puts him above any other pick in the 20s.


Fab Melo was the head-scratch pick at 22 in the draft.  Obviously, he is raw.  His offensive game is non-existent, but that is what coaches and summer leagues are made for in the modern NBA.   The days of well-rounded, finished products graduating from college and being drafted are long gone. Defensively, Melo is off the charts, and that is how he should earn minutes in Boston.  With Kevin Garnett back, and at the 4, it further underscores the need for a big in the middle. Melo can protect the rim and has the athleticism to block and disrupt shots. Even if Brandon Bass returns,  Melo should be able to eventually earn regular minutes as a defensive force off the bench.


With KG back, and Greg Steimsma and JaJuan Johnson possibly earning minutes up front, the weakness this past year of no big bodies up front suddenly has some youth and athleticism starting to rear its head.  It's a good short and long term option now going forward for Boston.  The draft pieces should fit, but Doc Rivers needs to figure out how and where in the coming months.

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