Why Boston's second-round draft pick Semi Ojeleye was a steal

With the 37th pick in the draft Thursday night, the Celtics selected Semi Ojeleye, a Junior out of SMU.

Despite being seven picks into the second round, don't be fooled. Ojeleye is a great talent and could turn into a steal if he plays to his potential. He was ranked as the 20th best prospect on DraftExpress (and 19th on my personal board) and has the physical tools and versatility to carve out a role for himself in the NBA.

Physical Profile

The first thing that stands out about Ojeleye is his gifted physical tools. At 6'7" and 235 pounds, the 22-year-old is an absolute freight train. His strong and sturdy frame is tough to move, making him a reliable interior defender with great instincts to contain. Although he has never posted many steals or blocks in college, he has a decent 6'10" wingspan that could help partially disrupt offenses.

His athleticism, especially given his size and strength, is very impressive. The former Duke transfer posted a 40" vertical at the combine, good for fifth overall. He is extremely bouncy in space which allows him to finish with authority at the rim, power through contact, or just do crazy stuff like this:

His combination of quickness and strength is perfect for small-ball lineups and would make it tough on opposing matchups.


Ojeleye provides valuable versatility on both ends of the floor. As mentioned, he has the strength and speed to guide multiple positions, something that is growing in importance due to the NBA's love of small ball lineups. He was able to defend both guards and wings in college (despite primarily playing the four) and has the tools to do so on the next level.

On offense, the SMU product showed plenty of versatility. When you see his size and strength, you may not expect him to be a threat from the perimeter since he is so effective at attacking the hoop. However, Ojeleye shot 42.4% from deep for the Mustangs this past season on a decent sample size:

He does a little bit of everything on the court. He was exceptional for SMU, clearly showcasing his value throughout the season:

Seriously, how was he still available at No. 37?

Semi Ojeleye draws NBA comparisons to a more athletic Jae Crowder, assuming he can provide the defense that he is expected to. For a 37th pick in the draft, that comparison alone makes it a damn good pick if you ask me. Of course, we will have to wait and see what he becomes on the next level.

The biggest obstacle for him will be opportunity since, as we know, the Celtics are loaded with talent. I question if Ojeleye will even see any NBA minutes this season given Boston's roster. However, his body is NBA-ready and at 22 years old, he would be one of the older rookies in the league. Regardless of if he will have the opportunity, the fact of the matter is that the value Ojeleye could provide as a 37th pick makes him a steal.

Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32

Photo from CBS Sports