As many of you may know that the 2012 NBA Draft is Thursday night. The Celtics have three total picks with the 21st and 22nd picks in the first round and the 51st pick in the second round. The Celtics were one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals this year (or should I say one Avery Bradley shoulder?). These three picks are crucial and Danny Ainge has to hit home runs with all of them. If KG comes back next year then the Celtics are championship contenders in my mind. But it doesn’t stop there. They have to sign a few pieces via free agency and pick up three impact players in the draft. The Celtics can go many ways with these picks and I’m going to break them down into different categories.
The Almost- Certain
Royce White- F Iowa State
I was thinking of naming this category the “Top 10 talent but afraid to fly” category. I didn’t see much of White in college because I don’t pay too much potential to the Cyclones in the Mid-West. But every report I’ve heard of this kid is that he’s going to be a steal in this draft. He’s supposed to be a top 10 pick but he has an anxiety problem and is afraid to fly. Teams see this and they’re going to pass on him, but at pick #21 you have to take a chance somewhere. There are no sure-fire studs this late, so everyone has at least on thing wrong with them. Fortunately for the Celtics, White has nothing wrong with him on the court, he’s just got a fear of planes. I think if he’s still there when the Celtics pick, then he’ll be in Waltham at some point this weekend to get introduced to the facilities.
The Potential Sliders
Perry Jones III- F Baylor
Jared Sullinger- F Ohio State
Terrence Jones- F Kentucky
I sort of just threw Terrence Jones in there in the rare situation where he’s still there at 21. He should go top 10. He’s Lamar Odom 2.0. He’s a very rare 6’9″ small forward who rebounds like a center and has the quickness of a guard. He can hit the three-ball too as well as finish at the rim. I’ll just stop there, he’s not going to be on the board at 21. The other two have a better chance.
Let’s start with the other Jones. The last two years I’ve been hearing about this big guy at Baylor who could be a top three pick in the draft. His numbers were mediocre during his freshman campaign so he decided to stay another year. I saw him play multiple times and most of the time I was very impressed. Notice how I said most of the time? Remember that in a minute. He’s 6’10″ and like Terrence, can play on the wing. He’s a premier shot-blocker and can rebound and outlet quick. It seemed like whenever he wanted to hit the glass and not get in foul trouble, he would have an easy 20+ points and 10+ rebounds. Now back to that “most of the time” comment. I don’t know how to put this but there are games when Perry just decides he’s not really into it. Sometimes he can play extremely passive, even when he’s the best player on the floor. He’ll pick up two quick stupid fouls or just hang out on the wing and not go for any rebounds. He’s a trick or treat player, and teams could shy away from that. I kind of hope he’s still there at 21 because he’s still only 20 years old and it could click with him if he has a year of practice with KG’s tutelage.
Last but not least we have Jared Sullinger. The big guy from Ohio State also had top three potential last year but decided to stay for his sophomore season. He had a solid sophomore year, leading the Buckeyes to the Final Four. Now there are reports coming out that he has a bad disc in his back. Not exactly the news you want to hear for a potential lottery pick. Especially for a big man. So the question is that if he’s passed on 20 times, do you take him at 21? I personally would. The risk/reward at #21 is totally worth it. If you’re able to snag Sullinger at 21 and he’s healthy, then that could be the biggest steal of the draft. He’s a very good rebounder and post player and his jump shot is improving. It looks like he has to trim down just a little bit, but I don’t mind him keeping the beef on to bang bodies in the paint. Hopefully one of these three potential studs will still be on the board when the Celtics are picking at #21 tomorrow.
Andrew Nicholson- F St. Bonaventure
Fab Melo- C Syracuse
There’s no hiding it that the Celtics are in desperate need of depth at the power forward and center positions. I can almost guarantee that one of the two first round picks will be a big of some sort. I’ve heard Nicholson’s name a lot this summer and it seems like the Celtics have have an interest in the big Bonnie. I didn’t see much of St. Bonaventure this year but I watched some Youtube clips and I was pretty impressed. Nicholson can step out and hit a 20 footer and is pretty athletic for someone who is 6’10″.
As for Melo, he’s going to need a few years. There are guys like Anthony Davis and Draymond Green who are NBA ready right now, but that’s not Melo. He has a lot of potential and can be a serious defensive force in the NBA, but he needs to tune his offensive game. I wouldn’t be mad if the C’s took Melo with one of these picks. Remember when they drafted Kendrick Perkins and remember his rookie year? He was the definition of a project. That pick worked out well in 2008 when Perkins was the last line of defense on a championship team.
My Personal Favorite
John Jenkins- G Vanderbilt
I love John Jenkins and I don’t understand how people don’t. I saw him play this past year multiple times and every game I was impressed. He has the potential to be the next Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, or Michael Redd. Just a pure shooter that doesn’t need too much time to get his shot off. He moves extremely well without the ball and comes off screens just like those three marksmen I just mentioned. If Ray is ready to move on, then why not snag Jenkins with one of these two picks? Redd was taken in the 2nd round because “all he could do was shoot”. Well, if you can shoot that well in the NBA than you have all-star potential. The reason shooters like Jason Kapono and Kyle Korver aren’t all stars is because they don’t play a lick of defense. I’m not saying Jenkins is Tony Allen, but his all-around game is far superior to Korver and Kapono.
I can’t wait for tonight’s draft and I can’t wait to see what Danny pulls off for the Celtics. Everyone knocks the players he’s drafted but every GM isn’t perfect. Juts look at Michael Jordan. The Celtics have another pick at 51 so don’t shut the TV off after pick #22. Danny’s drafted a few nice sleepers in the 50s (Big Baby Davis and Ryan Gomes) and I fully expect him to do the same tonight. If I had to make a prediction I think the C’s will snag White and either Perry Jones or Sullinger. Hopefully Sullinger.