Celtics to host four centers for pre-draft workouts; which is the best fit?

Yesterday we talked a bit about the six point guards the Celtics were going to have in for a visit, as Danny Ainge and the C's are clearly targeting backup guard to help spell Rajon Rondo. However, point guard isn't the only position the Celts are looking at, as the team will also host four big men for visits this weekend. From the Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes.

Beginning on Friday, the Celtics will host up to 12 draft prospects for workouts over two days, NBA sources said


Centers Jeff Withey of Kansas, Steven Adams of Pittsburgh, Colton Iverson of Colorado State, and Greg Echenique of Creighton are also scheduled to attend. The Celtics have the No. 16 pick in the first round on June 27. They do not have a second-round selection

Considering the team's current big man situation, this makes all the sense in the world. Kevin Garnett's future with the team is up in the air, and if he doesn't return, the C's would be down to Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger (coming off back surgery), Fab Melo and the non-guaranteed deals of Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White at the 4/5. Not exactly murderers row.

The Celts are in a good spot in this draft (16th selection), as many experts have declared this years class to be very deep, but with few elite prospects. Therefore the Celtics should be able to get pretty good value in the middle of the first round. We've already broken down some of the potential fits for Boston on the site, and now let's take a closer look at the four big men Ainge is bringing in for a visit.

Jeff Withey (Link to ESPN draft profile), H: 7'0", W: 222 lbs, Wingspan: 7'2", Age: 23

College: Kansas

For those who watched the NCAA tournament, you know Withey's name. He played fantastic for the Jayhawks in their three tournament games, averaging 15 points, 10 boards and 5.7 blocks per game before Trey Burke and Michigan ended their season. According to ESPN's draft profile, Withey is the #26 prospect in the draft (#8 center), and is expected to go in the mid to late 1st round. He definitely needs to add some weight (222 pounds is dangerously skinny for a 7 footer) if he's going to bang with NBA 7 footers, but he has great shot blocking instincts and is very mobile. According to ESPN he needs to "work on his post moves" but every time I watched him he was very nimble around the basket, and never looked uncomfortable.

Steven Adams, H: 7'2", W: 255 lbs, Wingspan: 7'5",  Age: 19 (turns 20 in July)

College: Pittsburgh
Scouting report: killer smile

If you like high risk, high reward picks, Adams is your guy. He is huge, athletic and long (NBA draft has got to be the only time where one dude calling another dude "huge and long" is totally cool..right?), and has an NBA body right now. He is also incredibly raw. As a freshman he averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2 blocks for the Pitt Panthers, hitting double figures in scoring just six times in 32 games. Of course that doesn't mean he's not an elite NBA prospect, as ESPN ranks him the #13 prospect (#3 center) and projects him to be a late lottery pick. One potential red flag for Adams? This Pittsburgh Post Gazette article in which a teammate calls him "a cool guy that doesn't know what's going on", and Adams himself talks about his laid back attitude. At 19 he may grow out of that mentality, but it's not exactly an attribute most teams look for in their paint protector.

Colton Iverson, H: 7'0", W: 262 lbs, Wingspan: 7'2", Age: 23 (turns 24 next month)

College: Colorado State

This one surprised me a bit. Iverson had a good senior season for Colorado State, averaging 14 points and nearly 10 boards a game, but he is an average athlete who doesn't run all that well and turns 24 shortly. ESPN calls him the 51st best player in the draft (#10 center) and projects him as a 2nd round pick who may go undrafted. So why is he visiting? Well the C's don't have a 2nd round pick this year, so I'd imagine Iverson is a guy that Ainge liked on tape and that the Green would be interested in if he goes undrafted. His high motor is definitely an attractive attribute for an end of the bench guy, and if he doesn't get selected next month, he would be a good choice to push White and Randolph for a spot on the bench. Just don't expect to hear his name at #16.

Greg Echenique, H: 6'8", W: 265 lbs, Wingspan: 6'8", Age 22

College: Creighton

If Iverson's name surprised me, Echenique's flat out confused me. I remember him from Creighton's tournament games, but I have to admit I don't know his game all that well. He averaged 9 points and 6 boards for the Blue Jays as a 5th year senior, and ESPN doesn't even have him listed as a top-100 prospect. Since I only saw him play a few times, I'll let draft express give you a break down of his skillzzz.
Standing 6'8 with a powerfully built frame, Echenique remains the same extremely physical interior presence we described in our last report, only now he's imposing his will on college big men. He doesn't have a big wingspan, which, at 6'8, renders him undersized from a NBA perspective, but the St. Benedict's product has re-shaped his 265-pound frame in recent years, looking significantly more trim that he did as a freshman and appearing a bit more explosive because of it.

Despite his perceived weight loss, Echenique is as strong as ever. He may not be the quickest or most explosive big man, and certainly isn't going to beat anyone up the floor in transition, but he can carve out position in the post, keep defenders on his back, and finish plays at the rim with dunks when he can gather himself.

So he's a banger, who in five years of college ball shot all of one three pointer (he missed), which shows you that he's not really a guy that leaves the paint all that often. Like Iverson, Echenique is not someone in the running to be drafted with the 16th pick, and is probably someone that Ainge likes as an undrafted free agent/summer league addition. His body type, energy level and ability to "carve out position" in the paint kind of reminds me of a poor mans Big Baby, which would be one hell of a pick up as an off the street free agent.

Ok so of the four, two are not realistic options to be drafted at #16, but Adams and Withey most certainly are. Which of those is the best fit? To be honest, it kind of depends on what your looking for. Withey is more of a sure thing, he projects to be an NBA rotation quality big and carve out a nice little career. Whenever I watched him at Kansas he reminded me of Jeff Foster, who played 13 solid seasons with the Pacers, never doing anything flashy, but always producing.

If this were 2008, and the Celtics were looking for a piece to help them contend for a title next season, Withey would surely be the guy. But they're not. And in the middle of a rebuild Adams is the guy with the potential to develop into an All-Star quality big who can protect the paint and run the floor. If he's sitting there when the Celts draft, I'd expect Ainge to take a shot. While Adams has a higher chance of busting, the C's have to swing for the fences if they're going to contend again any time soon. And without the benefit of a lottery pick or cap space, Adams gives them the best chance to do that out of the four guys the C's are hosting this weekend.


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