Eye on the draft: N.C. State's T.J. Warren
With the draft getting closer by the day, the debates will continue as to how the Celtics should move forward as they continue their rebuild.
Do they use their two first-round picks and keep building from the bottom up? Do they trade their picks for a legit superstar (Kevin Love anyone?) and accelerate the rebuild? If they keep the picks, what should they do with them? Use them on the best talent available or address the team's needs?
Let's say Boston keeps it's picks, or at least the No. 17 overall pick from Brooklyn and uses it on a guy who addresses multiple needs, is one of the best talents available at that draft spot and also beat out Jabari Parker for ACC Player of the Year. Would that be something you would be interested in?
Enter N.C. State small forward T.J. Warren, a guy I've been pretty keen on for a few months.
One of Boston's biggest issues last year was scoring. They were atrocious at putting the ball in the hoop.
From Chris Forsberg at ESPNBoston.com:
The Celtics were not a good offensive team by any metric last season. Boston ranked 27th in offensive rating (99.7 points per 100 possessions) while averaging 96.2 points per game (26th) and shooting 43.5 percent from the floor (28th). The Celtics didn't get to the free throw line very often, turned the ball over at a high rate and had one of the lowest effective field goal percentages in the league (which adjusts for value of 3-point shots).
One glance at Boston's anemic late-game numbers in clutch situations further highlights a team desperate for go-to options that can consistently generate points.
Safe to say, they need scorers. That's where Warren comes in. The small forward averaged 24.9 ppg and 7.1 rpg while shooting 52.5 percent from the floor in his sophomore season. Yes, he only made 26.7 percent of his three pointers, so his deep shot needs work. But that doesn't mean he should be labeled as a guy with "no jumper." While Warren attempted far more threes his second year in college (3.3 per game) than he did his freshman year (0.8 per game), it's worth noting his percentage shooting the long ball his fist year in school was an astounding 51.9 percent. He'll work on it and it'll be fixture in his game that opposing teams will have to watch out for.
Don't believe me? For proof that players can develop a three-point shot in the pros, I'll be using "the Kawhi Leonard method." In Leonard's two years at San Diego State, he made just 25 percent of his college threes. In this year's finals alone, Leonard has made seven of his 12 three-point attempts (58.3 percent). In his three seasons in the league, Leonard's worst three-point shooting percentage was 37.4 percent in 2012-13. I'm not saying Warren is the next Leonard, but don't tell me guys can't develop into deadly shooters.
Warren also knows the biggest knock on him his his three-point shot and he's already working on it. Here's his pre-draft workout video from DraftExpress.com:
While I'd like his release get a bit quicker and it's not like he's draining buckets with guys in his face, you can see him hitting shots from very deep over and over. It's encouraging if nothing else.
Besides his jumper, Warren can score from anywhere, anyway, anyhow. He's one of those instinctual scorers that somehow always knows where the hoop is and puts in his fair share of circus shots.
Here's his scouting report video:
Warren's got the ability and attitude to be a starter in the league at small forward. That's where the other need comes in. Jeff Green has two years left on his deal, if he picks up his player option next summer. Unless this team somehow grabs two or three other players better than Green, he doesn't look to be a part of the team's future. He might even be packaged with other players and picks in a deal to get real talent to Boston. Green's a great role player, but you don't pay those guys $9 million a year.
Picking Warren would give Boston someone to develop at the wing position to take Green's spot after he leaves. Even if Green is gone this summer, Warren is a skilled enough scorer that he could start immediately and develop as he plays.
When it comes to talent, need and who will still be available halfway through the first-round of this year's draft for the Celtics, it doesn't get much better than Warren.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.com