BOSTON -- It's not often that you can enjoy a red-eye flight. After all, they're named such for a reason.
But the Thursday night -- err, Friday morning -- jaunts through the sky that Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody took this week were different. They may have been taking place while we were all sleeping, but these two wanted to anything but.
Bradley and Harangody were selected by the Boston Celtics with the 19th and 52nd picks, respectively, of the 2010 NBA Draft Thursday night and flew out in the early a.m. to be introduced in Waltham, MA, Friday afternoon. As these two players flashed their freshly embroidered No. 0 (Bradley) and No. 55 (Harangody) jerseys, their smiles would have never left you guessing that they didn't sleep a lick last night.
"Last night I was still a little excited," said Bradley, who was sporting a fresh set of charcoal threads during his first Celtic appearance. "Me and my family, we were celebrating, but I was just excited to get on the plane and land in Boston. Right when I landed here it hit me that, that my dream came true, and I'm gonna get a chance to play for one of the best franchises in NBA history."
Harangody echoed Bradley's excitement of playing for the most historic franchise in the sport.
"Last night, when I heard my name called, it was a big deal for myself and my family," said Harangody, who has trimmed up considerably since his final season at Notre Dame concluded. "Just for them to give me a chance to make this roster and be a part of this organization is a huge deal."
Bradley and Harangody are about as opposite of players as you could possibly find, as one is a speedy and explosive guard while the other is a hefty forward who does the dirty work around the basket, but as Danny Ainge noted Friday afternoon, the similarities they share are what landed them in green.
"One thing that led both of them to us was all the little intangibles..." Ainge said. "It's the intangible things that I notice in them and what I love about them. I think they're guys that, what I've seen and witnessed, is they play every possession, you know, they don't take possessions off. They give you their best effort at both ends of the court."
But you don't become a contributor in the NBA simply by giving effort -- you've got to have skills, too. Judging by what we're hearing about Bradley and what the collegiate career says about Harangody, these guys aren't lacking in that department.
Bradley, who is only 19 years old, is much more raw than Harangody, but he already possesses skills that have been deemed "NBA-ready" by numerous members of the Celtics' front office. His two most polished areas are defense -- which we all know is deeply important to playing for the C's -- and mid-range shooting -- an area that was missing with Boston's reserve guards last season.
"He's an NBA defender right now," Doc Rivers said just minutes after Bradley was chosen. "He can play point guard defense on anybody in the league and that's huge for us."
In addition to his renowned defensive abilities, which he clearly prides himself on, Bradley was the second-leading scorer for a Texas team that was so talented it was picked to reach the Final Four before last season began. He finished the year averaging 11.6 PPG on 43.2 percent shooting from the floor and 37.5 percent from 3-point range. Not bad for a guy whose area that must be improved upon is shooting, according to ESPN. So if that's his biggest concern, it looks like the C's have found a solid guard -- not a combo guard -- for the future.
"Me, I would just call myself a player," was Bradley's response to being dubbed a 'combo guard.'
In Harangody, Ainge and his crew hope that they have found another diamond in the rough who will contribute to the frontcourt next season. There's no doubt about the fact that the power forward showed true promise at Notre Dame, as he was a star in what many believe is the toughest conference in the nation, the Big East. Harangody dominated the league to the tune of 21.8 PPG and 11.4 RPG over his final three years at Notre Dame and earned numerous accolades during that time period, including Big East Player of the Year in 2007-08 and three consecutive years as an All-American.
The Big East is loaded year-in and year-out with super athletes who go on to succeed in the NBA, and Harangody held his own (and then some) against those very players for four straight seasons. He believes that the experience he gained in his former conference played a big role in preparing him for this very day.
"I think, especially playing in the Big East, it prepared me a little bit to play in this league. You know, I have no idea how it is out there, but in a sense, from what I've heard, playing in the Big East will kind of give you a leg up."
No matter what it was that propelled both Bradley and Harangody into their newfound hometown, they're here and ready to work. Bradley sprained his ankle during a pre-draft workout one reason why the C's believe he may have slipped to them and will not be able to fully participate in drills for most of the summer. Harangody, however, should be in uniform for the Celtics' summer league squad on July 5.
Until then, it's time for Boston's newest Celtics to let it all sink in, and maybe take care of those red eyes they may have developed leading up to the biggest day of their lives.