In 21 days the Celtics will take their first step towards the 2013-2014 by participating in the annual tradition known as the NBA Draft. A ceremony marked by over-analyzation, second-guessing, grief and jubilation. The Celtics are in the rare place with their roster where they can go almost anywhere with their pick and make a solid selection (unless they end up selecting a underwhelming veteran shooting guard).
ESPN’s Chad Ford has four (so far) iterations of the NBA Draft and has the Celtics taking a center, a point guard, and a small forward. The latest version of the ESPN Mock Draft (Insider) has the Celtics selecting UCLA small forward Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad’s claims to fame have included being the number one high school prospect for his age group, potentially lying about his age in order to beat up on younger players, and being apart of an underwhelming UCLA program in disarray.
Here’s Ford’s reasoning for picking Muhammad:
Muhammad might be the most difficult player in the draft to place right now. After coming in with enormous hype, scouts are obsessed right now with the weaknesses in his game. Can he shoot off the bounce? Can he go right? Does he have the athleticism to defend? Is he a selfish player?
Muhammad is working hard to answer his critics and these workouts will go a long way to determining where he ultimately lands. But with Paul Pierce‘s run with the Celtics nearing an end, Muhammad might be worth the risk here if the Celtics’ preferred target, Schroeder, already is off the board.
Picking Muhammad here has a similar feel to picking Avery Bradley a few years ago. A once top high school recruit falls to the late first round due to various question marks. While the question marks existed for Bradley, everyone could at least agree that he would be an eventual defense dynamo. It seems no one can agree on Muhammad.
Picking Muhammad is not without risk, but it isn’t anything more than the risk associated with picking this late in the first round. In Ford’s fourth, there isn’t a player on the board worth taking over Muhammad save for maybe a young international prospect. The Celtics unfortunately do not have the luxury of picking a future superstar from Whoknowswhere and stashing him away. They need a guy who can sop up a few minutes next year (a “few” turns into a “lot” if Paul Pierce leaves).
The only other player available I’d consider taking is Tony Mitchell. Similar to Muhammad, Mitchell came into College with a lot of hype and left in relative obscurity. The biggest difference is his measureables. Mitchell is a freak athlete with great length, rebounding ability, and defensive potential. A BIG small forward that would look good behind Paul Pierce and Jeff Green next season.
What about you? Any favorites?
(Please note that if anyone is looking for the C’s to pick one of the older big men, I promise to deconstruct that pick in a funny way!)
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