Suffice to say, last night did not go as well as it could have for the Celtics. The Cs landed at #6 in the lottery, disappointing folks who had been pining all season for a top-three pick. Sure, the numbers pointed at the sixth pick being the most likely, but the Celtics also had a 57% chance at picking fifth or higher, so many fans had gotten their hopes up only to be crushed by the lottery gods once again.
But today is a new day, and sitting around being sad isn't what Celtics fans do. With that in mind -- what are the Celtics options now that they know where they are picking?
Here are my six most likely possibilities, four of which involve drafting players, and two of which involve moving the pick.
1. Draft Noah Vonleh
Vonleh is a guy who's stock has seemingly been on the rise for months, as the Indiana Freshman is a physical freak (6'9", 7'4" wingspan) who flew a bit under the radar this season as the Hoosiers missed the tournament. But the 18-year-old was highly productive, averaging 11.3 points, 9 boards and 1.4 blocks per game, while shooting 53% from the field, 48% from three and 71% from the line. Body wise, he's not your typical 18-year-old, as he weighs 247 pounds and is solid as a rock, and just looks like an NBA player. He's not a true center, and the Celtics are stocked up at power forward, but if Danny Ainge likes him enough, he'll still pull the trigger on Vonleh.
2. Draft Aaron Gordon
The biggest question for Arizona's Aaron Gordon: can he play small forward in the NBA? Size wise, he's a perfect fit (6'9", 220), and he certainly has the freakish athleticism. But he was a power forward in college and most scouts seem to think that's where he'll end up at the next level. Gordon is one of the youngest players in the draft (doesn't turn 19 until September 16th), and he was solid in his one season at Arizona (12.4 PPG, 8 RPG, 2 APG, 1 BPG, 1 SPG, 50% FG, 36% 3 PT) with the exception of his horrendous free throw shooting (42%). However, a lot of people are calling him "raw" and saying his game is completely based on athleticism because of this, and I think they're missing the fact that he can actually shoot from mid-range and deep..there just seems to be some kind of mental block at the line. I really like Gordon, and if Ainge thinks he can play the three, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he's Boston's pick at #6.
3. Draft Julius Randle
Randle was a man amongst boys last season at Kentucky, bulling defenders over under the hoop on his way to averaging 15 points and 10.4 boards per game as Kentucky came within a few possessions of a national championship. He's a pure power forward at 6'9", 250, and there are some definite questions about his defensive abilities in the NBA. I also have some questions about whether his game in college (using his strength to overpower people) will translate as well once all of the players around him are as big and strong as he is. But he's only 19 years old and is a tremendous rebounder with the ability to finish around the basket. Are he and Jared Sullinger redundant? Probably. But again, the if he's the best guy on the board, roster composition shouldn't matter much.
4. Draft Marcus Smart
Smart is the last of what I consider the realistic options at #6, and the only guard on the list. Personally I see a slightly less athletic Russell Westbrook (Smart is really athletic, but Westbrook may be the most athletic point guard I've ever seen): A bulldog who gets to the rim/free throw line, defends at a high level, rebounds, plays with incredible fire and loves to shoot -- only he's not very good at it. Obviously the Celtics have a point guard..but Smart could move to shooting guard, especially if he can improve his jumper. There's also the possibility that the Cs go nuclear and deal Rondo, in which case Smart would slide into the void at PG. Either way, it's hard to ignore numbers like what Smart put up at Oklahoma State (18 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, 2.9 SPG), and you can't help but love how hard he plays. Guy loves to win, and he's worth a long look.
5. Trade the pick in a package for Kevin Love
Perhaps you've heard of this Kevin Love fella, and the fact that the Celtics are interested in his services? Here's the situation, cliff notes version: Of the teams interested in Love, only the Celtics (6th pick) and Lakers (7th) have picks in the top 13. The Celtics also have eight additional firsts over the next five years, while the Lakers have nothing else to offer (LA can't technically deal the pick, but they can make the pick for Minny and then complete the deal in late July). So if the Celtics offer up the 6th pick as the centerpiece of their package, they will very likely land Love. It's not a pipe dream or some crazy thought -- it's actually pretty damn realistic if Ainge decides that Rondo and Love are two-thirds of a championship threesome. Stay tuned.
6. Trading down
While I don't think trading up is all that realistic, trading down could be. Picture this: The Hornets absolutely love Aaron Gordon (or Randle, or Vonleh) and are willing to give up the 9th overall pick, plus their 2015 pick to move up a few spots. If Ainge is still in asset mode, maybe he could turn the 6th pick into two firsts (one of which is just a few picks down), and then use the additional asset to make a big move. It's just one example, but teams fall in love with players all the time and overpay for them. Happens in both the NBA and NFL, and Ainge is the type of guy to make another GM pay through the nose for something he has. I don't think Celtics fans would particularly like it, but don't count it out as a possibility.
Are these the only six possibilities? Of course not. The Celtics could absolutely love Doug McDermott or Dario Saric, or he could deal the pick for Greg Monroe. Or if he's really infatuated with Jabari Parker he could offer up the #6 and #17 picks (and likely something else) and make a deal with the Sixers for the third pick. Options galore for Ainge over the next month, these are just the ones I find most likely.
What about you, what would you do with the #6 pick?
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For more of my articles, click here Michael Dyer 5/21/2014 02:38:00 PM Tweet