In the days leading up to the Celtics’ most significant draft in the last ten years, it’s a good time to take a look at how they might approach their picks (if they keep all eight).
In this mock, we propose the Celtics go with the player who can help them the most in the post.
No. 3 – Dragan Bender: The Celtics have been scouting and watching him like a hawk, debating whether the 18-year-old could turn into the next Dirk Nowitzki. The 7-footer is a highly versatile player, who can play both forward positions and occasionally center. Right now, he’s primarily a power forward. Scouts believe the Croatian has all the necessary tools to become a classic stretch 4. With good ball handing, high basketball I.Q, very good court vision and excellent passing skills, Bender is just about NBA ready on the offensive end. He can play the pick and roll as both a ball handler and as a screener, a rarity for an 18-year-old. Throw in the fact that he runs the open floor and can lead the fast break due to his good ball handling and is a quickly improving shooter with the potential to be a very good mid-range and long range threat, it’s easy to see why the Celtics see him as such a valuable investment with the third pick. Here’s the WEEI.com profile on Bender.
No. 16 – Taurean Prince: Another versatile forward. At 6-foot-7, Prince is a 215-pound slightly shorter version of Diallo. He has long arms, and very good lateral quickness. Prince saw more playing time at Baylor than Diallo did at Kansas and has more maturity, as he played four years for the Bears. While Diallo is a post presence, Prince’s physical tools in addition to his defensive instincts and intensity projects him as a player capable of guarding both shooting guards, and a large portion of small forwards at the NBA level. Scouts love his developed skills while general managers sense a very high defensive IQ. Prince is the type of player who could transition from zone to the varied man-to-man schemes in the NBA. Here’s the WEEI.com profile on Prince.
No. 23 – Brice Johnson: The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Johnson has the perfect mix of scoring instincts, size, mobility and championship pedigree. He’s an elite athlete who doesn’t force the issue offensively and never tries to do too much. He’s a four-year product of North Carolina whose shot selection is very good, explaining his high percentage from the field. He is a very effective scorer around the basket and at the rim, thanks in part to his quick leaping abilities. He’s very explosive in the open court and gets out on the fast break and runs the floor extremely well. If the Celtics get him at No. 23, they’re getting a very mobile, agile and coordinated for a player his size who can outrun other bigs in transition. Here’s more on Johnson.
No. 31 – DeAndre Bembry: Celtics stay athletic in the second round, nabbing a flashy 6-foot-5 athletic wing from St. Joe’s in Philadelphia, with a flare for making highlight plays. This is an explosive player with a big wingspan that could electrify fans at the Garden. He’s very fast and thrives in transition. A smooth athlete who excels in the open floor, both with the ball or filling the lane. Has the shake and wiggle to get by defenders in ISO and create shots in the lane or at the rim and has a quick first step. Once at the basket, he’s considered an excellent finisher, very similar to Kris Dunn. If the Celtics say goodbye to Evan Turner, Bembry is the kind of athlete who could step in and fill that role. Scouts like his ability to get his feet organized quickly when attacking the basket and his ability to get around the defense. He also possesses a mean Euro-step, a must for any player from 10 feet and closer to the bucket in today’s NBA. Vision and passing skills also strong. Here’s the WEEI.com profile on Bembry.
No. 35 – Ante Zizic: The Celtics scouted him in Croatia before heading to Israel to watch Dragan Bender. He has all the measurables, including wingspan (7-foot-3) and height (6-foot-11). His long arms help him be effective on both ends of the floor while running the floor well. Scouts consider him a very active and energetic type of player. He is a monster rebounder with a high motor. He is much bigger (230 pounds) than Bender and uses the weight on the floor. Also a more experienced and developed player in the pick and roll on offense. At 19, a “draft and stash” candidate. Here’s the WEEI.com scouting report on Zizic.
No. 45 – Perry Ellis: At 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, Ellis can move remarkably well around the basket. Showed at Kansas over four years that he can hit the mid-range jumper. His long-range shot has come a long way, thanks in part to him staying in college all four years.
No. 51 – Isaia Cordinier: International scouting continues to pay off as the Celtics take a chance on a 6-foot-5 shooting guard. Cordinier, if he is open to it, is another classic “draft and stash” candidate. Here’s the WEEI.com scouting report on Cordinier.
No. 58 – Zach Auguste: Local kid makes good as the Togo Palazzi protege from Marlboro is scooped up with the last pick. Good length (6-foot-10). Good skills. Terrific program (Mike Brey-Notre Dame), Great story. Here’s more on Auguste.