The 2014-15 NBA season turned out to be a pleasant surprise for the Boston Celtics, who exceeded expectations and made the playoffs in just their second “rebuild” year.
That said, there’s a lot of work to be done.
Fans have higher expectations for a "big splash" this offseason, but let’s be honest: the C’s haven’t had much success in free agency in their history. The rebuild will likely come via trade . . . or via the NBA Draft.
Just take a look at the Golden State Warriors, who drafted Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Hitting in the draft is key to a successful rebuild, and the Celtics have an opportunity to do it this year with two first round picks (Nos. 16 and 28) and two second round picks (Nos. 33 and No. 45).
Let’s take a look at three options with that No. 16 pick:
Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky – OK, so the Celtics won’t be able to land Cauley-Stein at No. 16, but they can trade up for him if he falls to the right team. If there were ever a player for Boston to trade up for, it would be for Cauley-Stein, who is easily the best defensive player in this year’s class. Cauley-Stein is a legit 7-footer, but by no means is he your typical 7-footer. The guy can literally defend all five positions on the basketball court, and that’s exactly what he did at Kentucky. In an NBA where teams are beginning to kick the traditional lineup to the curb, Cauley-Stein’s versatility on the defensive end makes him a very intriguing big man. The offense needs work, but he’s got the quickness to get to the hoop and throw down.
Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas – Hmm . . . a swingman out of Kansas who falls to the Celtics. Where have we heard this before? OK, there’s certainly no comparing Oubre to Paul Pierce, but the Celtics could use a young "3" with a ton of upside, and Oubre fits that mold. He spent just one year at Kansas, but prior to that played at Findlay Prep, the same prep school as Avery Bradley and Tristan Thompson. Oubre is the prototypical swingman and at just 19-years-old has plenty of room to grow. Scouts think he can become a great two-way player. He could also make James Young more expendable if an offseason trade presents itself.
Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas – The jury is still out on forwards Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. Is there a future for either of those two in Boston? Portis is a battler on the court. At 6-foot-11, he has great strength and size, and with an improving shooting range looks like he could be a very capable NBA power forward. He’ll be hard to pass up.