The Boston Celtics are an interesting team right now and seem to be a constant subject for trade rumors. Before the 2014 NBA Draft got underway, there were plenty of rumors circulating about the Celtics’ possible interest in Joel Embiid. But when draft day came, they didn’t make any trades, they just picked two good players with their selections. The Celtics may be kicking themselves down the road for passing on Julius Randle. Only time will tell.
Here are my grades for each pick of the Celtics draft.
No.6 Overall — Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
There have been rumors surrounding Rajon Rondo for years now and when general manager Danny Ainge selected Smart, some took it to mean Rondo would be leaving town sooner rather than later. Yet, just because Smart played point guard in college doesn’t mean he couldn’t co-exist with Rondo. I have always viewed Smart as more of a shooting guard anyways. Last season at Oklahoma State he averaged fewer than five assists per game, while scoring 18.4 PPG. The downside of playing Smart next to Rondo is that neither is a very efficient three-point shooter. Smart shot just 29 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Smart is a bit undersized for a two-guard in the NBA at 6-4, 22o-pounds, but he is athletic enough to hold his own and is a tremendous defender, averaging 2.9 steals per game with the Cowboys. Smart and Rondo would give opposing backcourts fits and should force plenty of turnovers.
The biggest problem I have with the selection of Smart isn’t that he can’t play with Rondo, it’s that the Celtics passed on Julius Randle to select him. Randle was clearly the fourth best player in this draft and the Celtics passed on a chance to get a legit 20-10 guy. Randle is NBA-ready and could have helped Boston get better. Smart is a nice player but to me, Randle is the kind of the guy you can build a team around.
No.17 Overall — James Young, F, Kentucky
With their second pick in the draft, the Celtics landed Young, a freshmen entry from Kentucky that is filled with potential. Young oozes athleticism and was very productive during his one and only college season. He averaged 14.3 PPG on 40 percent shooting, while also shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc.
Young has a lot of room to grow and has big upside for a player taken with the 17th pick in the draft. Ainge knows this team is a ways away from seriously contending in the Eastern Conference, so the Celtics have time to live through Young’s growing pains.
Young was a great value for the Celtics. He needs to become more efficient offensively but he is a capable shooter and a solid defender. He has good size and is athletic enough to be a two or a three in the NBA and should get plenty of minutes right away for a rebuilding Celtics team.