Position-by-Position Look at C's Priority List
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics own their highest draft pick, No. 16 overall, since the 2007 NBA Draft. That’s great news, but the question is, how are they going to use it?
As with any NBA Draft, the possibilities are endless. Danny Ainge could try to move up in the draft, or he could try to trade back. If he keeps the pick, he could go in any direction in terms of what position he chooses to address. Here’s our best stab at the team’s priority list based on who the Celtics currently have under contract for next season.
Point Guard – High Priority
Point Guards Under Contract for 2013-14: Rajon Rondo, Terrence Williams
This franchise has operated for years under the assumption that Rajon Rondo will be starting at point guard every night. Luckily for them, Rondo answered the bell every night.
Until January 25.
That’s when Rondo tore the ACL in his right knee during a game against the Atlanta Hawks. He missed the remainder of the season, forcing the Celtics to learn the hard way that life without a true point guard is very difficult. Terrence Williams played well at times at the point, but he isn’t a true point guard, either.
Rondo (again) is the only true point guard under contract. The Celtics expect him to be back for the upcoming season, but there is no way to predict how he’ll play in his first post-surgery season.
With all of this in mind, point guard is likely to be a high priority for the Celtics on draft night. They don’t need to draft someone who can walk in the door and start, as Rondo is expected to hold down that spot. However, they may need to look in the direction of a point guard who can come in and perform well as a backup and as a spot-starter should Rondo need to miss a few games.
Shooting Guard – Low Priority
Shooting Guards Under Contract for 2013-14: Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford
The Celtics are stacked at shooting guard. There may not be an All-Star at this position, but there is quality – and a lot of it.
Boston’s four shooting guards who are under contract offer a plethora of skills. Doc Rivers has a defender in Avery Bradley, a strong two-way player in Courtney Lee, a great shooter in Jason Terry and a sparkplug in Jordan Crawford. That’s a lot of options.
All of those players have established themselves in this league. Bradley’s shot will continue to improve, and Terry and Lee are sure to play better next season. With Crawford, an electric yet inconsistent scorer, in the mix as well, the C’s already have plenty of depth at this position.
Small Forward – Low Priority
Small Forwards Under Contract for 2013-14: Paul Pierce, Jeff Green
There may not be a team in the NBA that is deeper at small forward. The Celtics have a future Hall of Famer and a franchise legend in Paul Pierce holding down the starting spot. They also have a budding star behind him in Jeff Green, who was Boston’s top scorer during the 2013 playoffs.
Pierce may not have looked like an All-Star in the playoffs this season, but he was a borderline All-Star during the regular season. He still has plenty left to offer, especially if he can return to his standard role with Rondo running the offense. Green also proved this past season that he has All-Star-caliber talent. He played very well at both ends of the floor over the final two-plus months of the season – well enough to earn a starting spot.
With two great small forwards under contract and a third player, Lee, able to handle the position in dire situations, this position is of low priority.
Power Forward – Medium Priority
Power Forwards Under Contract for 2013-14: Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Shavlik Randolph, D.J. White
If Jared Sullinger is at full health this season, as the Celtics expect, he’s going to be a key piece in a solid rotation at power forward. Sullinger is an elite rebounder who can hit the mid-range jumper, and Bass is an elite jump shooter who offers great flexibility on defense with his foot speed. Additionally, Shavlik Randolph proved that he can be productive down low as a rebounder and scrap scorer.
Boston should have a solid group at this position, but you can never have enough talented bigs. Power forward isn’t a top priority, but if a talented player at this position falls to the C’s they may consider selecting him.
Center – High Priority
Centers Under Contract for 2013-14: Kevin Garnett, Fab Melo
Ainge drafted big – as in big men – last year. He might do so again this year.
Kevin Garnett just completed his first full season as an NBA center. He isn’t a true center, and he didn’t have a true center to back him up for the entire season. Our guess is that the Celtics may want to change both of those facts.
Boston invested a first-round pick (No. 22 overall) in Fab Melo last year, but Ainge made it clear since that selection that Melo is a development project. That’s why he was in Maine with the Red Claws for nearly all of last season. It’s possible that he’ll be ready to contribute in 2013-14, but it’s not probable.
With that in mind, Ainge may choose to use the 16th pick to select a center who can contribute now. There are plenty such centers in this draft, and it’s almost a guarantee that a couple of them will be available when the C’s select at No. 16. Keeping Garnett’s health in mind, Boston is surely going to consider using its pick to snag a quality center to back him up.