The Boston Celtics were a team many people had their eyes on going into the 2014 NBA Draft. Many expected a big trade, whether it be for an established player or draft positioning. They surprised everyone by keeping their picks and selecting Marcus Smart and James Young. Those were perfect picks because they addressed needs while allowing them options going forward.
Smart is one of the most physical and aggressive players that was available. He had 250 free throw attempts last year while playing in 31 games, which equates to eight attempts per game. That means he constantly attacks and puts himself in position to score easy baskets at the rim and the foul line. The knock on him is his shooting ability. He has struggled with his shot throughout his career. As we’ve seen in the past, players like Rajon Rondo and even LeBron James have been able to improve their shooting while in the NBA.
Young was on one of the biggest stages last season while playing for the Kentucky Wildcats. He saw some lows during the season, but finished very strong along with the rest of his teammates. As far as shooting goes, he’s the opposite of Smart. Many times he settled for shots when he needed to attack which resulted in only 177 free throw attempts in 40 games which averaged out to be 4.5 attempts per game. He shot 35 percent from the three-point line and 47 percent from inside the arc. He’s very athletic and can score in bunches.
These picks were vital for the Celtics. They ranked 26th in scoring and 27th in offensive efficiency. That means, not only did they struggle putting up points, but they were often forced into tough contested shots.
Defense is great, but if a team can’t shoot consistently, it’s going to struggle. Knocking down open shots and attacking the basket will likely help push Boston toward the middle of the league scoring rankings.
The most important reason these picks were perfect is that it continues to give the franchise options. It gives them depth if they keep the roster as is and it allows them flexibility with current players’ futures.
They’ve expressed interest in extending Rondo, but trade rumors are always looming. Jeff Green has $18 million that is owed to him and the Celtics aren’t thrilled about honoring it. Avery Bradley is a great defender and improved offensive threat, but he will be looking for some more money this offseason.
Smart and Young can be complements or replacements for these players. Danny Ainge did a fabulous job getting these guys as a part of his rebuild for the franchise. The draft was good for several teams, but the moves the Celtics made were the perfect storm for future success.