Every year around this time, the basketball community begins flooding DraftExpress.com for information on top prospects, mid-lottery prospects, mid first-round prospects, late first-round prospects, second-round prospects etc etc.
Paul Flannery of SB Nation got Draft Express head honcho Jonathan Givony on this week’s Drive & Kick podcast. Go give it a listen (as soon as you are done reading this). Givony is one of the leading experts on NBA prospects, and his opinion is much more valuable than just about anyone else’s on the topic. You’ll come away smarter.
One particularly interesting Celtics nugget came late in the podcast, after Flannery asked Givony whether top European prospect Dario Saric would come over right away if he was drafted. Here’s Givony’s answer:
“What I’ve been told is that if Saric is drafted six or seven in Boston or LA, he’ll be in the NBA next year. Anything lower than that, it’s not just where he goes but what team does he go to. Any of the other ones, and it’s a question mark how quickly he’ll come over and how willing he’ll be. He’s trying to play this game a little bit, like Parker, Embiid and the other guys. He has leverage though, because like Jabari Parker, what’s he going to say “I’m just not going to play basketball”? “I’m going to go on a Mormon mission”? Maybe, but Saric really has other options. He can sign with Barcelona and then you’re screwed. There’s a lot of work to be done with that kid and his camp before a team is ready to use such a high pick on him.
“I would compare him…remember how good Hedo Turkoglu was when he was in Orlando? He was the MAN. People remember the Clipper version that stinks, but people who remember Hedo when he was awesome, that’s Dario’s best case scenario.”
First things first: Givony is absolutely right that Orlando Magic Hedo Turkoglu was awesome. He was a point forward who could shoot 3-pointers, bring the ball up the floor and pass beautifully. He was arguably the second-best player on a team that went to the Finals in 2009
because Kevin Garnett got injured. This comparison is a positive.
The second part of Givony’s quote is interesting, though. Saric apparently isn’t just pushing to be picked high, he’s pushing to be picked specifically by two teams. This begs the question: Would anyone waste a pick on a player already trying to force his way into a big market? And if not, would Saric fall to #17? It’s not impossible. In a draft as deep as this one, no team is going to want to whiff on a pick who refuses to come over and play for them with all the other talent available.
I’m not sold on the Celtics using the sixth pick on Saric, nor am I sold on the Lakers grabbing him with the seventh. It would be kind of a gross way to pick up a big-name prospect (after all, wouldn’t we normally criticize a prospect who refused to play for — say — the Bucks?), but if Saric fell to Boston at #17, he would be a pretty massive steal.
Some other notes after the jump:
On the Julius Randle vs. Noah Vonleh debate:
“I’m not a huge fan of Vonleh to be honest. I’m skeptical of him. His feel for the game is really average. He does have the measurables, but he kind of reminds me of a slightly taller version of Tristan Thompson. To me, Randle is a much more dynamic player. His scoring instincts are off the charts, and he’s a lot tougher physically than Vonleh. I think Randle has been really over-scrutinized to be honest with you.”
A slightly taller Tristan Thompson? At #6? Hoping that he’ll become Boston’s defensive anchor at center? Noooo thank you.
As far as Randle is concerned, I think Boston would do well to grab him if he’s available with the sixth pick. The Celtics won 25 games last year. I don’t think they can mess around trying to figure out “fit.” If drafting Randle means trying to find a trade partner for Sully (or even a trade partner for Randle), c’est la vie.
On Aaron Gordon:
“I think if he is a top 7 draft pick in this draft, just the burden of expectations will be way too much for him. I don’t want to compare him to Jan Vesely, but there are some comparisons. Freakish athlete, no position, can’t score. I think he has a much better work ethic than Vesely, which is why I think he’s going to improve, but if you’re projecting this guy to be your number one or two option in the NBA, you’re in serious trouble.
He will improve, but the question is just how much.”
Yeesh. I love Gordon, and I think he has a lot more potential than Vesely (obviously). I like his ability to finish in PnR situations, I love his defense, and I love a guy whose best attributes are “athleticism, handle and work ethic.”
But if Givony has concerns, I have concerns, and the Celtics obviously fall into the top 6-7 range. Maybe they would be better off steering clear.
On Jusuf Nurkic:
“Big kid, 6’11, 280, huge hands, very mobile, gets up and down the floor, can hedge the pick-and-roll, really athletic for a guy that’s that huge. Kind of a Pekovic-type…just a horse in the paint, but different in that he can pass and shoot. He’s a very unique player.
That guy can score. He averaged 27 points per 40 minutes in a serious league, playing for the second-best team in the league. (Tom’s note: Nurkic had an eye-popping 44.8 PER in eight games in the Adriatic League in 2013) He’s young too. Really, really unique talent.”
In a draft that doesn’t really have many center prospects after Joel Embiid, I have a hard time imagining that Nurkic would fall to the 17th pick, and I also have a hard time imagining the Celtics snapping him up at #6. Still, Givony’s description is intriguing, and he would fill a need for Boston.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.