I know there are a few other minor news stories coming today, with, for example, the upcoming contempt of Congress vote on Attorney General Eric Holder, and another story of narrow interest. Something having to do with health care, I think. But the big news is really in the world of sports. It's NBA draft time! (/sarc)
The Boston Celtics, who with a depleted roster put up a substantial challenge against the Miami Heat, have the 21st and 22nd picks in this years first round (and #51 in the second). I'm pretty sure Danny Ainge isn't looking for my advice, but he's going to get it. Barring a trade he's not going to come up with one of the consensus top 15 players, and of those 15 there are really only a few that would provide an instant boost. So I'd stick with the two picks he has and try to come up with guys that can a) step into a playing role immediately off the bench, and 2) have the potential to develop into something more special. I was never very good at indexing. Of course, someone may fall down the board, and if that someone is Perry Jones III you grab him. I don't think he'll fall to #21, but you never know.
Here are five players that I think meet both of those judgements.
1. The St. Bonaventure forward Andrew Nicholson is a big guy with both a post game and a shooters touch from outside. I'd like him to be a bit more of an athlete, but he can score inside and out and will give them instant help. An NBA fitness program will help his explosiveness. He may not be a star, but he can in the future be a starter.
2. One problem for the Celtics this year was that of their primary players only Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley were sufficiently explosive off the dribble to get to the basket. Paul Pierce does it more with footwork and guile than quickness at this point in his career. Washington's Tony Wroten can give them that. He's a very good ball handler, has quickness to spare, finds the open man, and can get to the basket with length. At 6 foot 6 he's a ball handling guard that be an immediate piece of the team and can potentially be a star if he can nail down a jump shot.
3. The same goes for Moe Harkless of St. Johns. An explosive athlete with length, he's only 19 years old and can be a star in the future. Right now most draft boards have him going in the high teens, but if he falls just a couple of slots to 21 you've got to grab him.
4. The best shooter in the draft is John Jenkins of Vanderbilt. It's nice to have Ray Allen draining threes when Rondo, Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett kick the ball back out. It's nice to have a shooter whom the defense can't leave for a second, because that's all the opening he needs. It opens the floor for everyone else. If you're not going to re-sign Ray Allen, then you need a John Jenkins.
5. Kevin Jones of West Virginia is simply a player. He is a small power forward who can hit threes, can post up bigger players inside, can rebound over players with more length, is fearless, and plays hard all the time. He's built like Dwight Howard, three inches shorter but a better shooter. Look at the success of Kenneth Faried in Denver, and you've got Kevin Jones.
I like a few other players at #21/#22 a lot, and wouldn't be terribly disappointed if those are selected. Quincy Miller of Baylor is a solid scorer inside and out and handles the ball like a guard at 6'9". Festus Ezeli of Vanderbilt has good size inside, can rebound and block shots and would be a good finisher for Rondo's dishes. Doron Lamb of Kentucky can shoot, but I worry about his ability off the dribble.
I'm not big on Royce White of Iowa State. He's very good, but the fear of flying (NBA teams fly a lot!) and other issues worry me. And I'm definitely not big on Fab Melo of Syracuse. I don't think he's a good fit on a Celtics team that relies on smart basketball with quick decision making. He doesn't have great hands, and he doesn't run the court that well.
With that #51 pick I think there should be a few available that could help. Tennessee Tech's Kevin Murphy is a very good shooting guard. Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom can get to the basket with the best of them and handle the rock. And for a sleeper how about Rakim Sanders of Fairfield, and athletic shooting guard at 6'5"?
I'll be watching tonight.