Do you enjoy March Madness every year? If so, you’d love this year’s NBA playoffs as well. The first round of this year's pro basketball postseason was, arguably, the most entertaining round ever, and the semi-final games have been a lot of fun too (tip: watch Thunder-Clippers). Still, the playoffs are missing one very important thing: the Celtics.
Boston didn’t sniff the postseason this year, of course, and instead has its sights set on the offseason, with the NBA Draft the key part of it. As it stands, Boston has the 5th overall pick in the Draft, but that could change on Tuesday, May 20 when the NBA lottery goes down. In short, Boston has a 33.4 percent chance at a top 3 pick, and a 10.3-percent chance at the No. 1 pick. However, they could pick as low as No. 8 if things go horribly wrong next week.
With that, let’s take a look at the players in the draft that the C’s may eventually get a chance at picking on June 26.
Joel Embiid – 7-0, 250, center, freshman, Kansas
2013-14 season: 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, .626 field goal %
Embiid is the most interesting player in this draft for a few reasons. First of all, he’s an athletic 7-footer with a ton of potential – and when those things go together, GMs start salivating. Secondly, coming from Cameroon, he only really picked up a basketball three years ago (explaining the potential). The Celtics desperately need a center, and Embiid would appear to be just what the doctor ordered. But speaking of doctors, it’s not all good news for Embiid. He missed part of the regular season and all of the NCAA Tournament with back issues, and will not take part in the NBA’s pre-draft combine this week in Chicago. C’s president of basketball ops Danny Ainge took a risk with Jared Sullinger and his back issues two years ago and it looks to have paid off, and you can bet that if after watching and speaking to Embiid, if Ainge feels the back issues aren’t career-threatening, he’ll gamble again. Pairing Embiid and Sullinger down low could really open things up for Sullinger and his ever-increasing range. And don’t forget Boston’s version of Lob City, with Rajon Rondo in the mix.
Jabari Parker – 6-8, 235, small forward, freshman, Duke
2013-14 season: 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, .471 field goal %
Parker, at age 19, may be the most NBA ready out of all the top prospects this year. His potential is off the charts, and he can certainly score in bunches. He won’t wow you athletically, like say Embiid or Andrew Wiggins would, and his defense isn’t quite there yet. But Parker fills the swingman need the C’s lack since Paul Pierce was dealt, as Jeff Green just isn’t that guy. Some experts have compared Parker to Carmelo Anthony or Luol Deng – and Boston would be fine with that. Also, Parker is a Mormon, as is Danny Ainge, so that’s got to make both sides more interested.
Andrew Wiggins – 6-8, 200, small forward, freshman, Kansas
2013-14 season: 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, .448 field goal %
Nobody had more hype going into the 2013-14 college basketball season than Wiggins did, and perhaps that’s why it feels like he didn’t quite live up to it. Even so, Wiggins is a top 3 pick in this year’s draft, and it’s easy to see why. Physically, he’s the perfect size for his position – and will fill out in his first few years in the NBA. Wiggins, like all rookies, needs to polish his offensive game, but he always looks very dangerous in transition, not to mention that his quickness gives him the ability to be a great defender. Some people do question his mental make-up and passion for the game, but it doesn’t sound like a huge concern. We could see the C’s drafting Wiggins if he’s there and Embiid and Parker are off the board. Rondo and Wiggins could certainly push the pace for the Green.
Dante Exum – 6-6, 188, point guard, Australia
Exum is a bit of a wild card in this draft. He’s certainly a top talent and will go high, but it’s hard for the general public to get a good read on him, simply because they haven’t seen much of him. Exum is bigger-than-average guard and extremely quick. He can get down the court in a blink of an eye, and his first step is a weapon. He’s big enough to play the shooting guard position, but for that to happen he’ll have to improve his shot – which has been considered his weakness. But if the C’s do draft Exum, get ready for the “Is Rondo being traded?!” talk. If you thought the Jimmy Garoppolo pick was a sign that Tom Brady’s time is running out with the Patriots, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Julius Randle – 6-9, 250, power forward, freshman, Kentucky
2013-14 season: 15.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, .502 field goal percentage
A couple years back, the Celtics would absolutely jump all over a guy like Randle. He’s a strong power forward who can finish at the rim with a number of moves, either facing or with his back to the basket. Randle isn’t much of an above-the-rim player, but has good control down low and uses his big body to get to the rim. The problem? Boston has a number of power forwards on its roster, including Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, already. You’d have to think that if they drafted Randle, they’d have to eventually trade another power forward. In short, Randle doesn’t fill a need.
Marcus Smart – 6-4, 220, point guard, sophomore, Oklahoma St.
2013-14 season: 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, .425 field goal percentage
You may only know the name Marcus Smart due to his incident at Texas Tech where he lost his cool and pushed a fan in the stands, earning himself a suspension. While being an emotional player is certainly part of Smart’s overall game (which is good and bad), there’s more to him. First, he’s got good size for a point guard and uses it on his way to the rim. He’s quick, smart, and is a good passer in traffic but his outside shot could certainly use some work. Smart probably won’t get drafted ahead of Exum, but there’s plenty to like about him at the guard spot. Hey, if Boston doesn’t think Rondo will be on the team past the 2014-15 season, maybe they’ll pull the trigger on Smart and trade No. 9.