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NBA Mock Draft 2014: Chris Mannix Thinks Celtics “Locked In” On Aaron Gordon

Kevin Love’s visit to Boston has Celtics fans in an understandable frenzy, but we still have no reason to believe the Timberwolves are going to move him for some platter involving Jared Sullinger and draft picks. If we assume the Celtics aren’t going to get Kevin Love, Boston will have to make the sixth pick in the draft.

Chris Mannix and Chad Ford both believe the Celtics are zeroing in on Arizona forward Aaron Gordon with that pick. Here’s Mannix in his latest mock:

Several league sources believe that Celtics GM Danny Ainge is locked in on Gordon. While Gordon’s shooting is a concern, he is a strong rebounder and shot blocker who can defend either forward spot and has been compared to Shawn Marion

This would be an interesting pick. Gordon’s shot probably precludes him from being a small forward, and Boston’s glut of power forwards complicates matters. With Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk already in place, at least one — and maybe two — of the talented young players would have to come off the bench, since none of them are traditional centers.

But Gordon’s reputation as a defender might help shed some light on Ainge’s thinking. A combination of Olynyk and Gordon would give the Celtics an intriguing duo. Olynyk will never be an elite (or possibly even above average) defender, but he showed signs of improvement in every facet of his game as the season stretched on.

Gordon, meanwhile, is a monster defensively, and using his athleticism in pick-and-rolls with Rondo would give the Celtics interesting opportunities both around the rim with Gordon and stretching the floor with Olynyk.

Gordon is also, apparently, extremely smart. Jay King from MassLive has some quotes from Gordon’s teammate Nick Johnson.

“His basketball IQ, picking up plays, picking up rotations on defense and stuff like that, he does that very quickly,” Johnson said after a pre-draft workout Monday with the Celtics. “If you would come to our practice, you would see that very quickly.”

Johnson added: “It was great playing with him. He’s the youngest player in the draft but you wouldn’t know it by talking to him, by listening to him talk and watching him work out. He’s got so much room for improvement but I know he’s going to make those leaps because he’s a great kid and he works his heart out.”

I have converted to Gordon’s camp. He isn’t perfect, but his ceiling is extremely high and his entertainment value is even higher. If Boston comes up empty on Kevin Love, picking up Gordon wouldn’t be a bad fall-back plan.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • hax

    He wasn’t even in the top 90 in rebounding last season.

    And with his iffy offense, no way he’d get minutes over Sully or KO at PF, or JG8 at SF. Many of us anticipated this draft pick being a franchise changing event since last summer. It’s what we watched those tough 4th quarter meltdowns for. Spending it on Gordon wouldn’t change our team at all. We’d just watch him on the bench, wishing we had Kevin Love instead.

    I’m still on the ‘trade for a star’ bandwagon, with ‘trade down for extra picks’ next in line.

  • Ping

    I hope this rumor isn’t true. I respect Gordon’s potential in that he’s only 19 or so and already a plus defender, but his offensive weaknesses are readily apparent. If the C’s use the #6, why select a defense-first player when you clearly need scoring options? And I don’t mean only for next season. If a Love-like player isn’t coming soon, Ainge needs to find a long-term building block at 6.

    Is Shawn Marion 2.0 really the answer?

  • Shane

    I like marcus smart at 6. A “down” year (still averaged over 15 / 5 / 5) and a strong draft take a top 3 pick from last year’s class and knock him down a few spots. He has th3 size, speed and heart necessary to thrive in the NBA. By drafting him we also create one of the better 3 guard rotations in the league with Rondo, Avery and Smart. He can play off ball when with rondo and on ball when with AB. done and done.

  • Thomas Graham

    danny have lost his mind if he does this stupid move sorry but gordon is not the answer can anyone say tj warren,julius randle, or pj hairston please we need scoring dude

  • hax

    Also, this is probablly just a Danny trick. Hoping it makes those less competent teams at 4 & 5 blow their pick on Gordon instead, allowing someone better to fall to #6.

    We didn’t hear much about sully/fab melo/olynyk/etc. before the draft.

  • dasein

    Sweet Jebus No!

    I reeealy hope this is a Danny smokescreen. The dude shoots like 40% from the FT line, i.e he can’t shoot. Period. If you can’t shoot in today’s NBA, it’s really hard to be part of a winning team unless you’re Dwight. And I don’t wanna hear any of this he’s a hard worker crap. He’s obviously been playing basketball long enough now that he’s had time to to sort his shiz out. He’s 19, not 9. Going from 40% to average just doesn’t happen.

    Marion was respectable from both the line and 3Pt land. That comparison is off.

    And when does drafting an “athlete” who isn’t actually a basketball player work out? Think the Bobhorncats would pass up a do over on that MKG pick? Too many GMs ignoring the Stromile Swift Rule. C’mon Danny, you’re better than that.

    • Ping

      I have similar concerns about his shooting because that’s not traditionally been an easy weakness to correct, but he’s still raw. You can’t look at a 19 year old and say he’s had plenty of time to develop. He’s probably had no more than 5 years of HS/AAU ball, all against vastly inferior talent. With the way he defends and jumps, he’s probably never needed a jumper to dominate.

      With some professional coaching and competition, Gordon will have the opportunity to improve. My concern is simply that he won’t. You’re right about shooting, it’s vital in the modern NBA, especially when our team lacks it. Gordon may be the next Marion, but I’d rather take a shot on a player like Vonleh turning into Aldridge, Saric into a better Turkoglu, or Smart into Lillard. High comparisons, but when Gordon’s best comp is Marion, I’m hesitant.
      That said, I’m not bent on taking a scorer later simply because we need it. The C’s need upside if they’re not contending now. Guys like Warren and Hairston are limited. 17 is where I’d rather take the elite defender with room to grow (KJ McDaniels).

      • dasein

        My thing is is that I don’t think Gordon is the next Marion. Prime Matrix was really good. He was like the 2nd or 3rd best player on a team that was unlucky not to win the title. If you can get that with the 6th pick, you take it all day.

        And I’m not saying he won’t develop at all. I’d expect him to get better at reading the game, learning veteran tricks and stuff like that. But I stick by my statement that if you can’t shoot at all by the time you’re 19 and have been part of competitive college and high school programmes, then you likely never will be any good in that department. I’m not saying he needs to be Ray Allen, but 42% from the line is a major red flag for me.

        I’m sure all of us here have played a little ball in our day, and from experience know that shooting a FT just isn’t that hard. I bet I can go outside now and hit over 70%, despite not having picked up a basketball in years and never having had shooting coaching in my life (except for watching ‘Winning Basketball’ by Red and Larry). And a guy who is on track to be a pro can’t even hit half? There must be something fundamentally wrong with him in the shooting department, and I don’t think you burn the 6th pick in a decent draft on someone with a hole like that.

        • Ping

          Very fair concerns. Gordon has changed his shot completely, however. I believe it was over on CelticsBlog that Gordon’s new shooting form, seen at the FT line and making its way to his jumper, was detailed. It seems more natural and repeatable, meaning his percentages could jump to acceptable levels.

          I’m open to the possibility of him improving, but I can’t get on board with his ceiling at #6.

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