The 2014-15 Celtics' pleasantly surprising run to the playoffs had many fans hoping that the ongoing rebuilding process might be much shorter than we had initially feared. However, it's Danny Ainge's job to be realistic, and the fact is that, unless Boston can attract one of the top free agents this offseason, next year's roster may only be a handful of wins better than last year's 40-42 team.

Ainge has shown a lot of patience since he shipped Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn two offseasons ago, stockpiling draft picks and using a first-rounder last year on James Young, who appeared in just 31 games for the Celtics and spent most of the second half of the season in the D-League. Some have said the sharpshooting Young was a disappointment and didn't develop enough in other areas, such as on defense, but he's still only 19 and he was never expected to make an immediate contribution.

So, could Ainge go the same route again and take another young player who'll probably spend more time in Portland than in Boston? If he does, a prime candidate would be Kansas swingman Kelly Oubre, who the Celtics interviewed on Thursday during the recent Draft Combine.
The 6'7", 200-pound Oubre was inconsistent in his only college season, averaging 9.3 points on 44.4 percent shooting, including 35.8 percent from downtown, along with 5 rebounds. He struggled to crack the rotation early but finally established himself by mid-December and posted three double-doubles the rest of the way.

He had a career-high 25 points in the Big 12 Tournament opener against TCU, when he was 15-for-19 from the free-throw line, but failed to reach double digits the rest of the way as the Jayhawks lost the conference final to Iowa State and were upset by Wichita State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

Along the way, Oubre showed signs of the skills that made him a McDonald's All-American at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada, namely a good jump shot and the physical ability to play shooting guard or small forward, with a wingspan that was measured at 7'2" at the combine. But he came nowhere near replacing Andrew Wiggins, as he had been tasked with doing, and didn't always bring his best effort, especially on the defensive end. He also recorded a measly 0.8 assists per game.

Nevertheless, his very high potential and the fact that he won't even turn 20 until December means there's a chance that he won't be on the board when the Celtics come on the clock at number 16. Miami, in particular, is one lottery team that has met with Oubre and reportedly has him high on its draft board.

If he is available, Ainge will decide between taking a player that could make an instant impact or once again going for the long view. If it's the latter, Celtics fans will have the tantalizing prospect of Oubre and Young teaming up with point guard Marcus Smart to look forward to in the years to come.

Follow Nick García on Twitter @N_A_Garcia

Image credit: The Wichita Eagle/Getty

Nick García 5/16/2015 11:18:00 AM Edit
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