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Shapiro: Boston Celtics Draft Preview

Would Royce White be the right piece for the Boston Celtics? (Photo Credit: IrishCentral.com)

By Lucas Shapiro 

Curious to see whom the Boston Celtics will pick tonight?

Aren’t we all?

How Boston picks tonight will be the first indication of what direction the Celtics will go in the potentially post Big Three era.

Here are ten guys that could be wearing a Celtics jersey at the end of the night:

Royce White, (Sophomore | Iowa State | 6’8″ Forward): Although Danny Ainge recently denied it, rumors have been swirling around the NBA that the Celtics had promised White they would draft him as the 21st pick. And for those not too familiar with White, Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com wrote an excellent piece yesterday portraying the 6’8″, 270-pound forward. He is arguably the most unique NBA draft prospect in years. His hero is John Lennon. He plays exactly like LeBron James. He has a fear of flying. Yet, what makes White so special is how he has overcome adversity to be where he is today. White did not play one minute at the University of Minnesota under Tubby Smith due to the fact he was arrested multiple times, (he also stole a computer). He ended up transferring to Iowa State where he learned the value of being honest and working hard. The product ended up carrying Iowa State to the second round of the NCAA tournament. White is a physical freak with a high skill level. He played point-forward for Iowa State, despite having the body of a power forward. He’d be an immediate impact for the Celtics because they might be losing Jeff Green and Brandon Bass this summer. They also do not have another ball-handler aside from Rajon Rondo, so White could be that guy for spurts of time. The Celtics will need to figure out how to help White with his anxiety issues and fear of flying, but there is a good chance that White could be an impact player for the Celtics right away.

Jared Sullinger, (Sophomore | Ohio State | 6’9″ Power Forward): Let’s get this straight: Jared Sullinger came back to Ohio State, improved his outside shot, improved his free-throw shooting, improved his shot-blocking, lost weight, and carried his team to the Final Four. Yet, for some miraculous reason he is a possibility for the Celtics in the 20’s, (Boston has picks 21 and 22). This is a guy, who was projected to be a Top-5 pick at the beginning of the year, has been knocked down due to bulging discs in his back. A few years ago, former Kansas forward Darrell Arthur fell in the draft due to concerns about his kidney. Yet, in his three years in the NBA, he has averaged 62 games played in per year, so the fact of the matter is that if Sullinger falls to the Celtics, he will be an absolute steal.

Fabricio de Melo, (Sophomore | Syracuse | 7’0″ Center): The Celtics desperately need size and it is unlikely that either Meyers Leonard or Tyler Zeller falls to them. Melo would be the next best 7-footer available. There are a lot of red flags surrounding Melo. He does not have good hands. He is very raw. He is not very intelligent. But one promising sign about Melo is that he improved drastically during two seasons with the Syracuse Orange. When he first walked onto the Syracuse campus, he could barely contribute. He would get lost in defensive rotations and had a hard time getting up and down the floor. So, he lost a great deal of weight before his sophomore year and looked like a completely different player. He made a major impact on the defensive end. It was apparent after he was ineligible for the NCAA tournament that Melo may have been Syracuse’s most important player this past season. He would be a long-term project for the Celtics, but he could fit in, even if he ends up being a guy that grabs a few rebounds, blocks a few shots, and gives a few fouls, which would pay big dividends for Boston.

Andrew Nicholson, (Senior | St. Bonaventure | 6’9″ Power Forward): Nicholson is relatively unknown to the casual basketball fan. He is a big man with a vast set of post moves, as well as deep range on his jump shot. The big problem with Nicholson is that he is 22-years-old, and still had a body that isn’t ready for the NBA. He was a decent post defender in college, but he only allowed 0.77 points per possession in post-up opportunities, which ranked in the 56th percentile in college basketball. At 6’9″ and 220 pound, Nicholson will need to bulk up if he wants to contribute on both ends of the floor in the NBA. He is not an upside pick, but Nicholson could boost the second unit’s scoring.

Moe Harkless, (Freshman | St. John’s | 6’8″ Forward): Harkless is a small forward with a power forward’s game. He has a great deal of potential and could be a sleeper pick for down the road. Think about how great of a pick-up James Posey was for the Celtics a few years back. Harkless could be a similar type of player. He needs to add some polish to his game, but the upside is there.

John Jenkins, (Junior | Vanderbilt | 6’4″ Shooting Guard): If Ray Allen does not return, the Celtics are desperately going to need some outside shooting. Jenkins is arguably the best catch-and-shoot player in the draft. Boston would be an excellent fit for Jenkins because he would not be asked to do anything else. He has some holes in his game, (lack of quickness), but he would always be paired with two of the best defensive guards in the league.

Should the Celtics trade up for Austin Rivers? (Photo Credit: CollegiateStandard.com)

Perry Jones, (Sophomore | Baylor | 6’11” Forward): It is unlikely that Jones will fall this far, but it is not out of the question. If he does land on the Celtics, Kevin Garnett might be the one player in the league that can teach him to play hard. In terms of talent alone, Jones is a Top-3 player in the draft.

Arnett Moultrie, (Junior | Mississippi State | 6’11” Power Forward/Center): The Celtics were the worst rebounding team in the NBA last year. Moultrie is a bit of an enigma in terms of upside, but he certainly can rebound. Would he be an upgrade over Greg Stiemsma? Probably not, but the Celtics are desperate for size.

Draymond Green, (Senior | Michigan State | 6’7″ Power Forward): Green does not have much upside, but the Celtics would know what they are getting. Green is a utility player. He could be like a combination of Marquis Daniels and Leon Powe for the Celtics. When they need rebounds, Green could grab them. When they need toughness, Green can bring the toughness. He would be a great complimentary player to a team that has enough stars already.

Austin Rivers, (Freshman | Duke | 6’4″ Shooting Guard): This is the pick that people do not like on the outside, but secretly want to see on the inside. Everyone wants to see Austin Rivers play for his father. Doc might be the only coach that could connect with him. Who knows what would happen if Austin Rivers is selected by Boston, but according to various rumors on Thursday, the Celtics will attempt to trade up for him. One thing is for sure: Rivers to Boston would make for an amazing HBO “Hard Knocks” series.