Draft prospect posts are absurd speculation before the lottery, and overthinking things at this point is a relatively useless venture.
But knowing that we are overthinking things has never stopped us before, so here we go: Chad Ford — prognosticator extraordinaire when it comes to draft projections over at ESPN — posted his latest mock draft. Here’s what he had to say about Boston (behind the ESPN Insider wall), currently slotted at fifth:
“The Celtics could go a lot of different ways here, but most of those ways duplicate something they already have. The team would love to get their hands on Embiid, as he would help them with one of their biggest needs. But Gordon is intriguing here. He’s a hybrid forward, but his athleticism and motor allow him to thrive at both the three and the four defensively. He adds toughness and does all the little things coaches love. I think he’d be a great fit on this Celtics squad.”
Some thoughts after the jump…
First of all, this tweet from Kevins Pelton and Arnovitz says everything you need to know about the phrase “hybrid forward.”
Good @kevinarnovitz rule of thumb: “If you have to ask whether he’s a SF or PF, he’s a PF.” Important for this year’s lottery.
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) April 22, 2014
Gordon is a power forward. If you wanted to make the argument that he could be a Blake Griffin-style power forward who can bring the ball up the floor and distribute, I’m willing to listen, but it’s incredibly difficult for a player to transition from the four to the three in today’s NBA, given the necessity for long-range shooting and slashing ability. If the Celtics draft Gordon, either Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk will probably have to be traded to clear up the logjam a little bit.
The good news: If Boston did pick Gordon, his defense might help shore up some of the defensive deficiencies around the basket created by Sully and Olynyk. College scouts love Gordon’s defensive potential in no small part thanks to his elite athleticism, and having an active, quick defender who can help blow up pick-and-rolls away from the basket might help mask Boston’s lack of rim protection.
Ford also gave his thoughts on Boston’s 17th pick, where he has the Celtics grabbing Clint Capela. It’s tougher to project which players will be available that late in the draft (some mock drafts have Capela going in the lottery, others in the mid-20s), but at least we know exactly where the Celtics will be picking.
“The Celtics could make a long-term move with their second pick. Capela has NBA length and athleticism (think Serge Ibaka), but he’s pretty far away from being an NBA player right now. Whether he sticks in Europe for a year or two or comes over now and learns the hard way, getting someone with athletic tools at this point in the draft is worth the gamble.”
I know very little about Clint Capela, but honestly, I would hate to see this particular scenario. Taking on a project power forward with the logjam already in place would be a ridiculous decision without a complex series of big moves planned. I’d much rather see the Celtics take a wing with this pick (ie. Rodney Hood, TJ Warren or KJ McDaniels), especially if Gordon is their first pick. A lot of analysts will say that a team which won 24 games last season just needs to take the best player available in the draft, but even assuming the Celtics consider Capela to be the best player available, he’s not going to have much of a chance to develop, especially if Boston takes Gordon (or Randle or Vonleh or whichever player is available in their range).
But, like we said, this is all theoretical until we know where Boston picks. The fifth slot wouldn’t be the worst news in the world with players like Gordon available, but it would certainly create some questions regarding fit for the Cs.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.