The 2014 NBA Draft figures to be a potential franchise-altering draft for the Boston Celtics. What they do or who they select in this draft could determine the direction of the Celtics for the upcoming years. If Boston is able to use their draft picks in a package to acquire Kevin Love, then contention is around the corner. But, if they fail to acquire a star-caliber player, the Celtics will find themselves in a long rebuilding process.
The Celtics are in good position to upgrade their team through the draft with two picks, the No. 6 pick as well as No. 17, at their disposal. Most prospects who land in the top-20 in this year’s draft have potential to make an impact for their team this season. Here are the players Boston will select if they do not make any prior moves.
With the sixth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Celtics will select Noah Vonleh. He is a forward out of Indiana with an extremely high ceiling. He’s still a raw product, but he’s only 18 years old with plenty of time to develop. The Massachusetts native has great size for a power forward at 6-foot-10 and freakishly long arms. His mobility and soft touch enables him to be versatile offensive threat. He can post-up, hit the mid-range jumper and even shoot from beyond three-point line. Vonleh shares many similarities to Chris Bosh.
The Celtics will draft Vonleh for a variety of reasons. Boston desperately needs length and size, and Vonleh certainly provides those two elements. While he is not a true shot-blocker or rim protector, Vonleh is more suitable to put alongside Jared Sullinger than, say, Aaron Gordon. He and Sullinger would complement each other well. The Celtics have a history of putting shooting big men around Rajon Rondo, so Vonleh fits that bill as well.
The Celtics cannot pass up on Vonleh’s star potential and need to take him at No. 6.
With pick No. 17, the Celtics will select Shabazz Napier.
If the Celtics are unable to attain Rondo for the long haul or let him go via trade, they’ll need a Plan B. Connecticut‘s’ Napier could very well be his successor. The soon-to-be 23-year-old is an older prospect, but he’s underrated and has a chance to be an impact player in the league. Napier is a true leader with a competitive drive to win — something the Celtics like to have on their team. He led UConn to the NCAA title last season by taking charge and hitting big shots along the way.
At 6-foot, Napier is small, but he knows how to score. He averaged 18 points a game and shot 40 percent from deep during the season. When it counted in the tournament, he stepped up his game by averaging 21.2 points while shooting a staggering 47 percent from deep. He’s not a great facilitator, but that can develop over time. He also grew up a Celtics fan in Massachusetts. Napier is a great fit for the Celtics at No. 17 and would learn a great deal from Rondo.
Noah Vonleh and Shabazz Napier would be terrific selections for the Celtics in the 2014 NBA Draft. They both have great value and star potential. They both have a chance to make significant contributions in their rookie season. The Celtics would be smart to use their draft choices on these two competitors. It’s going to be exciting to see what these players can become under Brad Stevens.