Breaking Down the Top Prospects
Celtics.com's Matt Griffin and Peter Stringer weigh in on the consensus top prospects and how they might fit in with the Green next season.
The following players are presented in alphabetical order (last name) and not according to any sort of projected draft order. We look at what each guy brings to the table, what he needs to work on, and what he could mean to the Celtics if he were selected by Boston in the 2006 Draft.
Additionally, as players come into Waltham for pre-draft workouts, we'll be adding them to the board and chatting with them about their experience for an exclusive Celtics.com interview. Check back frequently as we add more players to the board in the time leading up to the NBA Draft.
Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors only, and do not necessarily represent those of the Boston Celtics.
Strengths: Aldridge has a very solid all-around game for a sophomore who only played 16 games in his freshman season at Texas. He has a well developed post game and also has a reliable 15-footer to keep defenses honest. On the defensive end of the floor, Aldridge's height and huge wingspan make him a big-time shot blocker and rebounder.
Question Marks: The biggest knock on Aldridge is his thin frame. At his current weight, Aldridge will have trouble against strong NBA bigs and he may not have the mobility to stick with quicker power forwards. Aldridge must add 15-20 pounds to his frame to reach his full potential in the League.
Skinny: Aldridge projects as a safe pick for lottery teams looking to add an inside presence on both ends of the floor. He has a good basketball IQ, great instincts and a solid overall game that would immediately help the C's if he's still on the board. Also, Aldridge would fit nicely into the Celtics' high post offense because of his strong ball skills and solid outside shot.
Strengths: Armstrong can put the ball on the floor and make his way to the basket, which is a must-have skill for effective bigs in the NBA. Hard work and determination have transformed Armstrong from a guy who never looked like a prospect in his first three seasons into a guy who could be on the bubble of being a lottery pick. His new-found confidence was the key for him this season. He's also an alert weak-side shotblocker.
Question Marks: He's a late bloomer who doesn't have a prototypical NBA body. Armstrong needs to add size and strength to his 6'11" frame to take the pounding that comes with playing 82 games in the paint on the next level. But again, is Armstrong a one-year wonder?
Skinny: At first glance, he doesn't seem like a fit for the Celtics given the guys who'd be ahead of him on the depth chart. He could become the Celtics' best shotblocking threat if given the opportunity, but the Celtics will be drafting too high to select a guy who could fall to the middle or end of the first round because he really only had one impressive season.
Strengths: Bargnani is a very unique talent. It isn't everyday that you find a seven-footer who can handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter like a wing player. He appears to be most comfortable on the perimeter and he's shown potential to be an above average defender in the League.
Question Marks: Bargnani does not currently have the strength or mentality to immediately become a low post threat in the NBA. He prefers to face the basket and use his quickness and shooting skills to break down defenses. It remains unclear whether Bargnani can consistently score in the post against physical NBA big men. Scouts worry that he is a "tweener" (in his case, possibly too weak and soft to be a power forward while too slow to guard NBA small forwards).
Skinny: NBA scouts have grown wary of European big men of late after some high profile busts in recent drafts. However, Bargnani has actually proven himself against some of the best competition outside of the NBA and he appears to be the real deal. The C's will have to take a long look at him if he's on the board. Bargnani won't help out immediately but after adjusting to the NBA game and adding muscle to his frame, Bargnani has the potential to be the next star European-born player in the NBA.
Strengths: Can Brewer play the point in the pros? That is the question NBA scouts will work to answer prior to draft day. Brewer has excellent ball handling skills and, at 6'7", he could be a matchup nightmare at the point guard position. Brewer is also an excellent defender who uses his length to bother smaller guards.
Question Marks: If Brewer could consistently hit the outside shot he would be a lock to go as a high lottery pick. However, an old injury (broken arm as a child) limits the extension on his jump shot and it is unclear whether he can ever develop good mechanics because of this limitation.
Skinny: Brewer would be a very intriguing prospect for the Celtics. With Brewer in the mix, the C's could play Delonte West more minutes at the wing while Brewer runs the team and creates mismatches with his height. On defense, Brewer would immediately help shore up the C's perimeter defense and would make an impact on the defensive boards as well.
Strengths: Brown is an imposing physical specimen with a bona fide NBA frame. His athleticism is off the charts, and he's known for having large hands. He's a great leaper who finishes strong at the basket, an important skill in the NBA. And he's really improved his shooting skills since high school.
Question Marks: His ball-handling skills have been questioned in recent workouts. Some consider him more of an off-guard than a true point guard, which is where he'll play in the NBA given his lack of size.
Skinny: Doc Rivers has known Brown for most of his life, since they both went to the same high school (Proviso East), and he was impressed with how much Brown's improved his shooting since his high school days.
Strengths: Carney is one of the best athletes in the draft. He jumps out of the gym and has tremendous speed and finishing ability in the open court. Carney is a highlight waiting to happen. He is able to get his shot off against anyone and posseses an above average outside shot.
Question Marks: Carney has been inconsistent in his college career. At times he looks like a budding superstar but other times he simply disappears from games. He has all the tools to be a great NBA player but scouts worry about this inconsistency.
Skinny: In the right system and with the right set of coaches, Carney can blossom into an elite NBA player. The Celtics would be a nice fit system-wise for Carney as the C's have a strong developmental program for young players and Doc will settle for nothing less than 100% effort. However, the challenge for Carney would be to find playing time. With Pierce, Szczerbiak and Gerald Green all looking for PT at the small forward spot Carney may not see much action.
Strengths: Collins is certainly bigger than your average point guard, but he is more of a natural point in the sense that he runs the team offense, looks to create for others and has a playmaker's instinct. He passes into the post well, which is an important skill for an NBA point guard to have. He also finishes strong at the rim, which was obvious in his pre-draft workout in Waltham.
Weakness: Collins doesn't have great range, so he won't likely be a three point threat in the Association. But there aren't too many other knocks on his generally solid all-around game. And if you're playing with Wally Szczerbiak, you can leave the outside shooting to him.
Skinny: Collins would probably get a serious look at starting point guard, and because of Delonte West's versatility, you could probably put both guys in the backcourt at times when Szczerbiak goes to the bench, similar to the way Greene and West played together this season at times.
Interview: Mardy Collins's Workout Interview
Strengths: Foye is one of the best one-on-one players available in the draft, but he hasn't really been projected as a true point guard. He attacks the basket with a streetball flare and can finish at the basket, which is one of the toughest adjustments college guards need to make to be successful in the pros. Defensively, he likes to gamble and play for the steal.
Question Marks: He's not considered a "true" point guard, and hasn't demonstrated great passing skills. And because he likes to gamble for steals, he'll probably be a defensive liability early in his career, especially as the NBA seems to be moving to more of a perimeter game.
Skinny: The description here sounds a lot like Delonte West, and Foye would likely find himself battling for playing time against Orien Greene as the backup point guard. Tony Allen has also dabbled in point guard play, but Allen playing the point is likely more of an insurance policy than a threat to any of the full-time point guards on the roster next season.
Interview: Randy Foye's Draft Workout Interview
Strengths: He's a big upside guy. Almost everyone who's followed his career talks in glowing terms about his potential. Gay dominated inferior competition and played pretty well in big games for the Huskies. He's got All-Star potential and looks like a lock to go in the top five.
Question Marks: While he does do everything reasonably well, he doesn't have one standout skill. And in the NBA, if you don't do something really well, you may not find a role on your team as a rookie. Some have labeled his jumper as "questionable" and "inconsistent". While he's known as athletic, isn't everyone in the NBA athletic?
Skinny: On a team with pretty decent depth at swingman, Gay wouldn't seem like a great fit, but he does have star potential that may be hard to pass up. And his UConn pedigree certainly doesn't hurt his cause.
Strengths: The NCAA's leading scorer and Chevrolet Player of the Year carried Gonzaga into the Sweet 16 and earned an invitation to try out for the 2008 Olympic Team. He drew Larry Bird comparisons mostly for his scoring abilities (28.1 ppg this year) and basketball instincts, but his all around game isn't quite on the Bird level. Still, he has good size and has the ability to take over games and at times, seemingly scoring at will. He's already adept at handling double-and triple teams, which bodes well for handling the types of defenses he'll see in the NBA.
Weakness: Morrison doesn't seem to move well without the ball, and needs his touches to score. He's a highly emotional player, which can work against you in the NBA. He also tends to play defense with his hands more than his feet, which will get you fouled out pretty quickly in the pros, especially as a rookie.
Skinny: Morrison would provide more scoring punch off the bench, and potentially alongside Gerald Green, the second unit could become a very potent outfit. The Celtics do have quite a bit of talent at the swingman spot, so he may not be an ideal choice for the C's as presently constituted. If there were a draft-day deal, taking Morrison might make more sense. And let's be honest: The Larry Bird comparisons, accurate or not, make him enticing, don't they?
Strengths: The first thing people talk about when they're considering O'Bryant is his massive 7'6" wingspan. He's nimble in the paint, making him a shot-blocking threat, and soft hands make him a capable rebounder as well.
Question Marks: He still needs to add size to his 7-foot frame, and will need to get stronger to bang with the big boys of the NBA. And given that bigs don't generally develop that quickly as pros, he may not make an immediate impact this year.
Skinny: Seven footers just don't grow on trees, and every team will have to give O'Bryant a long look. NBADraft.net likens him to Brad Daugherty, which is lofty praise. Can he live up to such a billing?
Strengths: As NCAA Player of the Year there wasn't much more Redick could do for the Blue Devils last season. He is a proven competitor and relentless worker on the basketball court. He is a deadly accurate outside shooter who projects to be one of the top five shooters in the NBA from Day One. He has a knack for using screens to get open.
Question Marks: Redick is a good athlete but not an elite athlete. NBA scouts have concerns whether Redick can defend NBA-caliber athletes. On offense, there are also concerns that Redick will not be able to get his shot off against larger and quicker defenders.
Skinny: Redick knows how to score and he would be a great addition to the Celtics off the bench. His mere presence on the floor will force defenses to extend their pressure and that should open lanes for the C's slashers and big men. On defense, Redick is a very good team defender but he may need help when matched up on the ball against quicker and more aggressive wings.
Strengths: He's a showtime-style point guard who can capture the imagination of a crowd with creative passes and a genuine flare for the game. He can break down opponents one-on-one, and can create off the dribble and in the open court. And you have to love a guy who has nicknames like "Spanish Chocolate" and "The Spanish Magician".
Weaknesses: He's said to have modeled his game after a young Jason Williams, and sometimes takes it a bit too far with his flashy passing. He's got plenty of talent that would certainly work on the AND1 Mix Tape Tour, but he must learn to harness his skills to be effective in the Association. He's also battled injury woes this year.
Skinny: His talent has to be enticing, but with the perception that the European talent pool has dried up, it's unclear if he's ready to make an immediate impact.
Strengths: Rondo has game-changing speed and quickness that can create matchup problems for most opponents. He gets to the lane quickly and can create for himself or for others. Rondo is adept at finding ways to score, comes from a strong Kentucky program thatís produced some solid pro players.
Question Marks: His lack of size could make him a defensive liability in the NBA. He also may have problems finishing at the basket because in the pros, secondary defenders can make up for the fact that you beat the first guy.
Skinny: Rondo's stock has certainly risen over the last few weeks. Quickness is a skill you cant teach, and he also rebounds well for his size. Heís certainly an intriguing possibility, but will he be available at Number 7? He might be the first PG off the board.
Strengths: Roy is a great athlete who is widely considered to be one of the top perimeter defenders in this year's draft. He has an NBA-ready body that he isn't afraid to use on both ends of the floor. Roy is fantastic finisher and has a knack for getting to the rim and drawing contact. Defensively, Roy is rugged and should immediately add toughness to his new NBA team. He is also an excellent rebounder for a perimeter player.
Question Marks: Roy has always been described as an inconsistent shooter. He has improved steadily each year at Washington but he remains more of a slasher than shooter. Roy must become a more consistent three-point shooter to keep NBA defenses honest.
Skinny: Roy may be the most NBA-ready player available in the draft. He would make an immediate impact for the C's on both ends of the floor. With Pierce and Roy, the C's would have two wings able to get to the rim against anybody. On defense, Roy would immediately add toughness and has the kind of lock-down ability that the Celtics need to compete with the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
Mouhamed Saer Sene
Strengths: Where else are you going to find a 7-8 wingspan? His size and athleticism are his calling card, and he's only got room to improve.
Question Marks: He's very new to basketball, having played for just three years, so he's got a lot of seasoning and coaching to catch up on. He might be considered a 'project'.
Skinny: He's another guy who may not contribute right away, but there aren't many seven footers in this draft. He's probably not a top 10 pick guy, but should the Celtics trade down he'd be worth a look.
Strengths: He's a wiry defender with a long wingspan and good athleticism. He's an accomplished shot blocker; Simmons swatted 80 shots for the Wolfpack last season.
Question Marks: His offensive game isn't polished, especially away from the basket, and he lacks NBA size and strength. With that in mind, he's got "project" written all over him. He's also undersized to play in an NBA front court.
Skinny: He'd have a tough time cracking the frontcourt rotation in Boston with Raef LaFrentz, Ryan Gomes, Kendrick Perkins, Al Jefferson and Brian Scalabrine penciled in ahead of him. There probably isn't room for both Simmons and Dwayne Jones on the same roster. Then again, The Sports Guy could finally buy Celtics jersey with "Simmons" written on the back, which would become a running joke on ESPN.com for years to come.
UPDATE: Tiago Splitter withdrew from the 2006 NBA Draft.
Strengths: Splitter might be the most well rounded European prospect available, mostly because he does one thing traditionally not associated with foreign-born players: He plays solid defense and can bang down low.
Question Marks: He's still a bit slight for a seven footer, but the biggest knock on his game is his shooting. He's moved away from the perimeter game he once featured to learn to play down low, but outside shooting is usually a skill that can make a big man a matchup nightmare. His European contract would have to be bought out; that could be a major stumbling block for any team interested in drafting him.
Skinny: Wait until next year. Splitter withdrew from the 2006 NBA Draft.
Strengths: Thomas is often described as a "freak" athlete by NBA scouts. His tremendous jumping ability, wingspan, quickness off the floor and timing make Thomas an elite shot blocker. He is the kind of player that can improve a team defense by his mere presence in the paint. He is also a fantastic rebounder and both ends of the floor.
Question Marks: Thomas has improved his scoring skills this past season but his post moves are still raw. However, he has the kind of athleticism, length, touch and ball handling abilities to become a significant threat with continued dedication and proper coaching.
Skinny: Thomas went from a player last year who couldn't crack anyone's Top 100 player lists to the potential top pick in the draft. It would be hard for the Celtics to pass up a talent like this if he remains on the board. Drafting Thomas would immediately improve the Celtics team defense as perimeter players would be less apt to penetrate with Thomas patrolling the lane. A front court of Thomas and Kendrick Perkins would immediately give the C's one of the best young shot blocking and rebounding duos in the NBA.
Strengths: He's a crafty, left-handed point guard who at times outshined Gay for the Huskies. He showed strong leadership on the court for UConn. He's a pass-first, true point guard who makes his teammates better and is a threat to pass from anywhere on the floor. He's also a guy who comes through in pressure situations.
Question Marks: Defensively, he's not as strong as you'd like, but then again, there aren't many defensive point guards in the NBA these days. His off-the-court issues will certainly be a consideration, but hopefully he's matured and learned from his mistakes.
Skinny: His name has been tossed around quite a bit by the local media, probably because they're very familiar with his game. If the Celtics brain trust decides to go for a pure point guard, he'd be a logical pick.
Interview: Marcus Williams' Workout Interview
Strengths: Williams is ready to compete immediately at the NBA level, especially defensively. He is one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in college basketball. Williams isn't tall (many scouts question whether he is truly 6'9") but Williams uses his huge wingspan and fantastic positioning and timing to challenge virtually every shot taken in the lane. He has a knack for playing aggressively without generating too much contact.
Question Marks: Williams' post game is a bit robotic. He typically uses his superior strength rather than superior footwork or skill to score. NBA scouts worry that Williams will never be an effective offensive player now that he will be matched up against taller players that can match his strength down low.
Skinny: Williams doesn't have the upside of some other players in this draft but he seems like a fairly safe pick. Teams know what they're going to get from Shelden Williams. Adding Williams to the Celtics' roster would immediately improve the team's interior defense, and he would give the Celtics another elite shot blocker to pair up with budding shot swatter Kendrick Perkins.
Compiled by Matt Griffin and Peter Stringer. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors only, and do not necessarily represent those of the Boston Celtics.