Drafting Bigs?

With Perkins sidelined for the beginning of the season (plus maybe getting traded) and 'Sheed likely retiring - Center has suddenly become a top priority for the Celtics. Here's what ESPNBoston had to say about some of the big men that may be available when the C's pick tonight at 19:

Daniel Orton - Kentucky - Center
"Positives: Strong, physical big man ... Huge wingspan allows him to play bigger than he is ... Good rebounder ... Solid shot-blocker ... Can muscle his way to the basket in the post

Negative: A bit undersized to play center in the NBA ... Isn't an off-the-charts athlete ... Limited playing time at Kentucky

Ford's analysis: Orton tore cartilage in his left knee in November 2008 and ended up missing his senior year of high school. This past February, Kentucky coach John Calipari noted to the media that he felt Orton was still hobbled by the knee -- although Orton, at the time, claimed it was 100 percent. While teams that had the information stressed that the concerns have not scared them away from drafting him, they do muddy the waters a bit when you factor Orton's sparse playing time this past season and the fact that he lacks the production of other big men in the draft.

Forsberg's take: Sure, his college stat line looks a lot like Shelden Williams' stat line this past season, but don't let that scare you away from Orton. He might be a bit small for the center spot, but he's physical enough to be a force in the Boston frontcourt. Defensively, he's a perfect fit, and his ability to rebound and block shots would be a welcome addition for the Celtics. Offensively, he's regarded as a strong finisher who bulls his way to the basket; that's something Boston really needs considering the struggles Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis often exhibit in trying to finish around the basket."

Hassan Whiteside - Marshall - Center
"Positives: Long, athletic forward ... Explosive leaper ... Very quick for a big man ... A terror on the defensive end ... Dominating shot-blocker ... Good rebounder 

Negative: Needs to add strength ... Raw offensively ... Horrific free throw shooter ... Old for his class 

Ford's analysis: Whiteside is the draft's biggest "high risk/high reward" player. He had a terrific freshman season, recording an amazing three triple-doubles for Marshall. His measurements were off the charts in Chicago -- a whopping 7-7 wingspan and a 9-5 standing reach. When the athletic combine numbers are released later this week, I expect him to be one of the top players there, too. He's been compared to everyone from Marcus Camby to Tyrus Thomas. Teams are looking at him as high as No. 6, but many teams believe he could drop into the mid-to-late first round depending on workouts and interviews. 

Forsberg's take: His positives are the type that would make any Celtics fan salivate: "Terror on defensive end ... Dominating shot-blocker ... Good rebounder." That sure sounds exactly like what Boston could use in its frontcourt. But all accounts seem to suggest he's a project, both physically and mentally (even at 21, he only played one year of college ball at Marshall). While the Celtics are still working on Glen Davis' maturity, do they want to add another big that might need coddling?"  

Solomon Alabi - Florida St - Center
"Positives: Long, athletic big man... Excellent leaper.. Great shot-blocker... Runs the floor well for a big man... Good motor... Emerging low-post game... Charismatic kid, natural leader. 

Negative: Needs to add strength... Still raw on the offensive end... Under performing rebounder. 

Ford's analysis: Alabi has the size NBA teams covet. He also has the motor. However, he's still raw and coming off knee surgery. He's got to show teams that he's not the next in a long line of big-man busts mostly by convincing them that he'll be content as a shot-blocking/rebounding specialist. If he plays physical and does the dirty work in workouts, he should be a lock for the first round. He could be a great fit on a team that needs more size, such as the Celtics, Thunder or Spurs. 

Forsberg's take: The hype around Alabi and his potential is intriguing and everyone gushes about his smarts. His athleticism could be perfect when paired with a point guard like Rajon Rondo. But the red flag appears to be his rebounding. Put it this way: 6-foot-9 Shelden Williams averaged 11.2 rebounds per game as a junior at Duke; Alabi averaged 6.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore. It's clear he needs to hone that aspect of his game and toughen up a bit. Playing against Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins each day will aid that cause, but coming off a devastating Game 7 loss to the Lakers, you can't help but wonder if the Celtics need a big that's simply more committed to rebounding. One other concern: Alabi broke his leg his freshman year at FSU and you can't help but wonder if that's a potential recurring injury issue for any big man."