It's been another busy week in Waltham at the Celtics' practice facility as over the past few days, the team has invited 7 different prospects in for draft workouts. The Celtics' basketball operations staff as well as head coach Doc Rivers watched as guards Jonathan Lee (Northeastern), Troy Daniels (VCU), Tyler Brown (Illinois State), and Ian Clark (Belmont) ran through drills. Boston also examined big men Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota), Mason Plumlee (Duke), and Reggie Johnson (Miami) as part of this past weekend's processes. Once again, it appears the Celtics are doing their due diligence for the possible occurrence where they acquire a second round selection as only one of these 7 players, Plumlee, is a projected first rounder.
Mason Plumlee was one of the most improved players in the country this past season at Duke. Standing tall at 6'11", he is a very good athlete for his size; he possesses great leaping ability as well as solid quickness. He can certainly get out on the break as well and could be an interesting running partner for Rajon Rondo when he returns. Plumlee is a very good rebounder as well; he positions himself well, is always willing to box out, and has tremendous leaping ability. He can snag offensive boards as well. He has very good touch around the rim and has solid, basic post moves that allow him to shoot over his defender. He's also a good post defender, combining his length and athleticism with very good fundamental skills and understanding of the game. He doesn't have much in the way of a face up game offensively though; he's not much of a midrange threat. Also, despite his quickness, he isn't very laterally quick which means he may have some trouble defending NBA caliber pick and rolls. He's seen as a relatively safe pick, albeit one that may not have as much upside as some of his peers.
Trevor Mbakwe is a strong big man who earns his money on the glass. He's 6'8", but has a wingspan of about 7'4". He's athletic and explosive and really skies for rebounds. His length and athleticism make him very solid at blocking and altering shots. He's pretty good at positioning himself to get easy buckets which is good because he doesn't have the best midrange game either. He's alright in the post but relies mainly on athleticism and strength rather than technique to get to the hoop. He tore his ACL two seasons ago and his athleticism has lost a bit of a step since then, although it could return given ACL recovery times. That said, that wasn't his first knee injury which has some scouts worried. He also has a troubled past, with both assault and DUI charges. He's a very good, high energy rebounder with few other refined skills. IF the Celtics take a guard in the first round, he may be a target to be selected mid to late second round if they can grab a pick.
Reggie Johnson was a force all season for the Miami Hurricanes and his presence was surely missed when he missed time to a knee injury in the NCAA Tournament. To put it bluntly, Johnson takes up a great deal of space. He's 6'10" but weighs over 300 pounds. He certainly knows how to throw his weight around; he's a very strong, physical center who can bully his way towards the hoop on the blocks. Because of this, he's a very efficient scorer because he can establish very ideal post position. Now the obvious drawback to a 6'10" center who tops out over 300 pounds is that conditioning is a huge issue. If the Celtics are looking to become more of a running team when Rondo gets back, it's a bit of a reach to think that Johnson at this point would mesh well with that style.
Ian Clark was one of the main reasons that Belmont has consistently been a threat to pull off a huge upset in the NCAA Tournament. He's a 6'3" shooting guard who is lethal behind the three point arc. Even if the Celtics are looking to gain some three point potency next season with a second rounder, he would be a reach. His main issue is that he doesn't necessarily project to have the skills necessary to transition into being a point guard, which is an issue given his size. He also may get eaten alive defensively by NBA caliber shooting guards given his short stature and thin frame. He may be worth a summer league invite but at this point it doesn't look like he has much of an NBA future.
Tyler Brown of Illinois State is an explosive mid-major shooting guard who stands at 6'4" tall. He has tremendous range on his jumpshot. He played inconsistently during the year which harmed his stock a bit. However, he played quite well at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament not too long ago and started turning heads with his ball distribution skills. If he can keep those up, when coupled with his athleticism and explosiveness. He could potentially become an intriguing tall, scoring point guard. He also is projected to be undrafted but a few solid workouts may help him into the back end of the second round.
Troy Daniels of VCU is another mid-major guard who can flat out shoot the basketball. He won the annual college basketball three point shooting contest at the end of the season and shot 40% on nearly 9 attempts from beyond the arc per game. Like some of the other guys mentioned, he's undersized for a shooting guard, standing at 6'4" tall. It's unclear if he really has any other attributes that translate all that well to the NBA game. For these reasons, like some of the other guys mentioned, he likely will go undrafted on the 27th.
Lastly, local product Jonathan Lee of Northeastern worked out with the Celtics. He originally worked out with Daniels and Mbakwe, but was eventually invited back to work out again with the rest of the guys on this list. Lee averaged alright numbers for the Huskies this season. He's got decent size at 6'2" and 200 pounds and he's a left handed point guard which is always welcome. He is extremely quick as well. Right now not much else of his game really projects well but in this circumstance he's likely auditioning for a training camp or summer league role. Lee will likely go undrafted.
As with the last batch of workouts, it seems Danny Ainge is looking past just prospects that he may grab with the 16th pick. Whether this means that he's trying to grab a second rounder somewhere or if he just wants to plant the seed and get in the good graces of some potential undrafted free agents now remains to be seen. One thing that is certain though is that the Celtics are definitely doing their due diligence when it comes to scouting this draft.