Eye on the Draft: RJ Hunter

Despite constant roster changes throughout the season, the youthful 2014-2015 Boston Celtics exceeded expectations under sophomore coach Brad Stevens through hustle, hard work and effort. However, during the season and most notably during their playoff series against Cleveland, it became clearer and clearer that as tough and competitive as they performed, they simply did not have the talent offensively to hold their own at the next level.

As it stands, Boston will be selecting 16th and 28th in the upcoming NBA Draft. Since trading Kendrick Perkins away in 2011, the team has become notorious for not having a rim protector. While this is a huge need and while many fans are hoping to move up in the draft for Kentucky shot blocker Willie Cauley-Stein, do not be surprised if the Celtics seek to address their lack of scoring at pick #16 in the form of 6'5" Georgia State swingman RJ Hunter.

During the regular season, Boston ranked 27th in 3-pt % at 32.7% a game despite averaging 24.6 attempts behind the arc every game, placing them 13th in the NBA. Additionally, from the field, they shot at a clip of 44.3% as a team, which put them at 21st league-wide. They were led on offense by sixth man Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 16.4 points on 42.1% shooting per contest, and Avery Bradley who notched 13.9 points on 42.8% shooting a night. The need for scoring and three-point shooting is as real for Boston as is that for a rim protector, particularly in today's NBA where threes are so heavily relied upon for offensive versatility and spacing.

Prior to entering college, RJ Hunter was dominant on his high school team in Indianapolis, which was in close proximity to Butler. Hunter shared that Stevens, who was coaching Butler at that time, was the sole Division 1 coach in the state to recruit him. The guard had high praise for Stevens recently as he recalled their interactions during the NBA Draft combine:

I hadn't seen him since he was at Butler. He's not big-time at all. He was asking about my family. He's been a great coach. What he did at Butler was unbelievable, and what he's doing now is great.

During this three seasons at Georgia State under dad Ron Hunter, the swingman averaged 18.4 points on 42.3% shooting from the field, 35.4% shooting from three and 85% at the free-throw line. College career averages of 2 steals and 1 block indicated he may prove promising defensively as well. In the NCAA tournament, Hunter showed he can relish in the spotlight and helped his Panthers make an improbable run, beating Baylor as underdogs in the second round before losing to Xavier in the third. Hunter has displayed that he's a solid scorer from a smaller school who steps up in big moments. Parallels being drawn to his situation and those of guards Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry could be premature, but they certainly shouldn't be completely disregarded. But what does RJ think of the Celtics overall?

I like where (the Celtics) are moving. They've got young talent. They know how to play. Kind of like a young Spurs team in the making, so I wouldn't mind (getting drafted by the Celtics) at all.

Hunter has high praise for the coach, the team, and he clearly likes where the organization seems to be heading. The skills on offense the shooter would bring are comparable to those of James Young who has been underwhelming thus far, but positional competition should be good for the both of them. If we're slotted at 16th when the time comes and Hunter's still on the board, bring him in Danny. Bring him in.

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Top photo via Kevin C. Cox, GettyImages
Bottom photo via Jason Getz, USA Today via