Celtics can go number of ways in NBA Draft

Celtics can go number of ways in NBA Draft
June 17, 2014, 3:45 pm
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BOSTON — In one of the worst kept secrets in the NBA, the Boston Celtics are in hot pursuit of Minnesota's Kevin Love.

Among the assets the Celtics are willing to part with in order to acquire Love is their No. 6 pick which is why Boston's perspective on the pick can be seen through two different prisms: one for keeping the pick and one for shipping it off to the Timberwolves.

Multiple league sources have indicated that the Celtics have Arizona's Aaron Gordon and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart targeted at No. 6, assuming they can't move the pick.

But if a deal is struck for Love and it includes the No. 6 pick, Boston will likely turn to either Indiana's Noah Vonleh or Kentucky's Julius Randle at No. 6 with the expectation that one of them will be off the board when it's Boston's turn to draft.

Boston's roster is in a state of influx now with the number of players with guaranteed and non-guaranteed deals nearly equal.

With Rajon Rondo going into the final year of his deal and Avery Bradley a restricted free agent beginning next month, the need for adding backcourt depth is apparent which is why Smart makes a lot of sense at No. 6 if Boston plans to keep the pick.

That's not the only position on the Celtics' roster that has a certain amount of uncertainty to it.

Boston's Jeff Green has a player option after this season so the Celtics may be in the market for a small forward soon.

Enter Gordon, a versatile forward whose defensive acumen will get him on the floor immediately in Boston or for whatever team selects him.

Considering he is the youngest player in this year's draft, the belief that he will improve over time is a strong sentiment throughout the NBA.

"There's not a lot of separation between him, (Noah) Vonleh and Julius (Randle)," said a league executive whose team is in the lottery this year. "It really does come down to what you want, right now, and what are you willing to wait for. Gordon gives you lots of energy, hustle plays and strong defense right now. Tell me a coach who doesn't love that from a rookie?"

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves would be parting ways with one of the game's biggest stars in Love, a clear sign that they are rebuilding.

They need to add a player who not only has upside, but also the potential to hit the ground running as a star of the future.

Randle, a 6-foot-9 forward from Kentucky, would be an ideal addition.

He has been the best player on just about every team he has played for, and even managed to stand out this past season for a Wildcats team that overcame a slew of ups and downs before advancing to the national championship where they lost 60-54 to UConn.

"What was that thing (former Celtics coach) Doc Rivers used to say? Something about guys who are professional scorers?" said a league executive. "That's what Randle is. He's going to get points in this league."

Vonleh isn't that type of player, but he has arguably as much upside as any player in this draft.

Teams already liked his size, defense and rebounding skills.

But during workouts, teams have been impressed with his ball-handling and shot-making while facing the basket - two things he didn't do much of during his lone season with the Indiana Hoosiers.

"His shooting has improved," said Ainge following Vonleh's workout for the Celtics last week. "One thing you can see from him in high school, he can handle the ball a lot. He played center this year at Indiana, but he played on the perimeter more in high school. He can actually dribble pretty well."

And while most teams have him listed as a power forward, Ainge believes he has the skills in which he can play elsewhere for spot minutes.

"But I think he fits in pretty well as a power forward," Ainge said.

Which is the position he would be playing if he were drafted by the Celtics.

But even that won't ensure the Haverhill, Mass. native will be donning a Green and White uniform this season.

Before he ever suits up in the NBA, he like every other prospect in the draft is an asset; an asset the Celtics are aggressively looking to use as part of a package for Love.