Post-game Reactions

Give the Celtics this: They are working out some interesting guys as they decide who to take with the 58th pick–should they keep it. By interesting I mean: Guys with something in their statistical profile that suggests they may be able to contribute at least something in the NBA. And that’s all you can ask for at #58, a spot where the best pick in the last 20 years has been Georgetown’s Don Reid

But some stats-heavy analysis suggests the Celtics are zeroing in on some under-valued players. 

So let’s take a look at four of the guys the Celtics have brought in/are bringing for workouts in the final days before Thursday’s draft. (Click on their names for their complete DraftExpress profiles).

1) Aaron Jackson, PG, Duquesne: 6’4”, 185; 19.3 ppg, 55.4% FG, 5.7 assists/game

Jackson did not make any of  the mock drafts that have pick-by-pick 2nd round breakdowns (DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, RealGM). But a couple of stats-oriented breakdowns have him severely undervalued. John Hollinger’s Draft Rater has Jackson ranked the 17th-best college player in the draft, and HoopsAnalyst, which performs one of the best draft previews every season, has him ranked fifth in a crowded class of point guards. 

Why? Because Jackson scored the ball really, really well last season. His effective FG% of 61 percent led all point guards (just ahead of UNC’s Ty Lawson), and his points per 100 possessions mark (30.25) ranked 9th out of 21 point guards Hoopinion‘s Bret LaGree tracked here, ahead of Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holliday and Lawson. He can hit threes when his feet are set (nearly 41 percent), and he gets to the line at a slightly above average rate among draft-eligible point guards. Overall, DX has him ranked 6th in PER among 41 point guards, ahead of some big names (Teague, Collison, Mills, Flynn, Evans) that are certainly going to go ahead of him.

His passing stats are middle of the road (#11 out of LaGree’s 21 in assists/100 possessions, #13 among 41 PGs DX tracked with an assist/turnover ratio of 1.88), and experts who know a lot more about Jackson than I do consider his defense mediocre. 

He stands out as a very good rebounder among the PG prospects, sporting the second-best offensive rebounding rate among the 21 top PGs LaGree tracked. (His DRB rate is #9). That may suggest some solid athleticism.

He was also the centerpiece of a Duquesne team that surprised a lot of people by going 21-13 and making the NIT. 

Obviously, Jackson is slated to go undrafted or late in the second round for a reason. He’s 23, he became a proficient scorer rather suddenly in his senior season and his defense is questionable. 

But you can see why a team searching for a back-up point guard would take a look at him. He could net good value at #58.

2) Leo Lyons, PF, Missouri: 6’9”, 225, 14.6 ppg, 6.1 rebs/game. Age: 22

Mock Watch: DX and RealGM have him undrafted, NBADraft.net has him going #44 to Detroit. 

Lyons is a strange player who never really got it completely in college and likely won’t amount to much in the NBA. But, as with Jackson, there are little nuggets in his game and his statistical profile that suggest talent that could emerge if a lot of things go right for him in the NBA.

He ranks 20th among college players in Hollinger’s formula, suggesting he too might be under-valued. 

Lyons is a unique offensive player. At 6’9”, he likes to face up and take his man off the dribble to get to the rim. Among 26 power forwards LaGree tracked, Lyons ranked 4th in points per 100 possessions and third in free throw rate–ahead of some big names (Jordan Hill, Earl Clark, DeJuan Blair) in both categories. 

The guys over at DX found Lyons ranked third among all players in pace-adjusted free throw rate. 

Also interesting: Dude can pass. His assist/100 possessions rate ranked third among LaGree’s 26 power forwards, and he dished the third most assists per game among all PFs DraftExpress tracked.

So he’s got a versatile offensive game for a 6’9” power forward. Why is there so little interest in him? His defense had been a liability for almost his entire career until he suddenly looked as if he understood how to guard on the perimeter in the NCAA tournament, according to DX. His rebounding stats are well below average (#15 of 26 in LaGree’s sample in ORB rate, #20 in DRB rate), suggesting either a lack of athleticism, rebounding skill or both. 

And his offensive numbers reveal that his production was highly dependent on getting to the line. His FG% on two-point attempts ranked 23rd among 26 power forwards LaGree tracked, he took just 14 three-pointers all season and he turned the ball over more often than all but two of those 26 power forwards. He lacks a consistent jumper. 

Lyons won’t be able to get to the line as easily in the NBA, so he would have to improve his offensive game a lot to be an offensive contributor off the bench.

We look at two more prospects heading to Boston for workouts, including one hometown kid, after the jump.

3) Lester Hudson, PG/SG Tennessee-Martin: 6’3” (?), 190; 27.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists. Age: 24

Mock Watch: DX: 57th to Phoenix; undrafted on NBADraft.net and RealGM.

To steal from Simmons: Is Martin the homeless man’s Steph Curry? Only Curry carried as heavy an offensive burden as Hudson did in 2008-09 at little Tennessee Martin. He used a higher percentage of his teams possessions than any player in the draft (edging Curry), ranked 2nd in points per game (Curry again) and managed to maintain a decent efficiency rate despite his offensive responsibilities. His PER ranks sixth among all draft prospects, according to DX.

His shooting percentages were decent (51 percent from two-point range, 35 percent on a whopping 284 three-point attempts) considering the difficult looks he had to take, and his rebounding numbers are outstanding, according to both LaGree’s numbers and those on HoopsAnalyst. He topped all 21 shooting guards LaGree tracked in DRB rate and ranked sixth in ORB rate, and only three other guards in LaGree’s database swiped the ball from opponents more often than Hudson did. He has a reputation as a solid man-to-man defender. 

So why so little NBA appeal? Well, Hudson turns 25 in August, meaning he’s older than the Celtics starting point guard, their starting center and LeBron James. (Upside: His game is fairly polished). He is fairly turnover prone, though that’s likely to the product of having to do pretty much everything in college. There’s also the slight problem of measuring 6’1” in shoes after being previously listed as 6’3”, though he has a nice wing span at 6’8” if you’re into that sort of thing (and NBA teams are).

Hudson likely won’t amount to much in the NBA, but there’s a chance he could be a useful back-up guard. His role will obviously be much more limited at the pro level, and he should be ready to fill it immediately if given the opportunity. 

4) Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn: 6’6”, 225, 13.6 ppg, 9.9 reb. Age: 22

Mock Watch: NBADraft.net has him going to the Lakers at #42; DX has him undrafted and RealGM has Adrien going to Boston at #58.

Jeff Adrien works his butt off. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes not enough to make someone a usable NBA player, and I suspect that’s the case with Adrien.

UConn fans thought Adrien might develop into a star after he averaged 13-10 in his sophomore year, but his numbers didn’t improve in his final two seasons, and Adrien remained a third and sometimes fourth option in the UConn offense. 

Adrien is often compared to DeJuan Blair, since both are undersized 6’6” power forwards with long wing spans and offensive games that stay mostly below the basket. But Adrien is not Blair. Blair averaged nearly 13 boards per game last season, while Adrien grabbed about 10–a solid number, but not a spectacular indicator that he will be able to rebound effectively in the pros. And if he can’t rebound well in the NBA, he likely doesn’t have a role there. 

His rebounding rate numbers–a measure of the percentage of available rebounds Adrien grabs while he’s on the floor–are mediocre. His ORB rate ranked 13th among 26 power forwards LaGree tracked at Hoopinion. His DRB rank was worse–16th among those 26. Some of that may have to do with the fact that, unlike most of these guys, Adrien had to compete with a rebound-gobbling seven-foot center (Hasheem Thabeet) for available boards. But the point remains: Adrien was a very good rebounder in college, not a spectacular one. 

There’s nothing to suggest Adrien will be able to score at all at the next level. He ranked 23rd among those 26 PFs in points per 100 possessions (23.31) and 21st in effective field goal percentage, and he rarely takes jump shots. (Though, in fairness, he made about 41 percent of those he did take during his senior season–a huge improvement, according to DX). 

He’s a back-to-the-basket guy who didn’t finish around the rim especially well at UConn. He did get to the line five times per game, but he hit only 60 percent of his attempts, suggesting he may not have a decent jumper buried in him.

Defensively, Adrien is decent against bulky plodders and in serious trouble against superior athletes who can face the basket and work off the dribble. 

His pre-draft measurements also don’t show any lurking athleticism the numbers might be masking, other than his long 7’2” wing span. 

The odds are against Adrien or any of these four guys having a meaningful NBA career. But I at least like where Boston is looking.

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Zach Lowe

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