Celtics take gambles, add size with questionable players

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Celtics take gambles, add size with questionable players

BOSTON The Boston Celtics used their two first-round picks to add a pair of questionable players who they believe will be the answer to what has ailed the C's frontcourt for years.

Jared Sullinger, a top-10 talent from Ohio State that slipped into the latter part of the first round after being red-flagged for having back problems, was scooped up by the Celtics with the No. 21 pick.

An inconsistent effort on a number of nights led to Fab Melo, a 7-foot defensive standout at Syracuse, being available for the taking at No. 22.

"We needed to address size," said C's coach Doc Rivers via a teleconference call from Newark, N.J. where his son, Austin, was drafted with the No. 10 pick by New Orleans.

Of the two, clearly the addition of Sullinger was considered the bigger haul.

"The fact that Jared Sullinger fell to us, is just fortunate," Rivers said. "Last year he would have been a top-5 pick and all this year, he was a top-10 pick. The fact that he just kept falling to us it gives us a rebounder, high IQ player, great passer and a very good shooter from the outside."

As far as Sullinger's back, Rivers said the C's have talked with a number of medical officials prior to feeling comfortable with selecting the 6-foot-9, 280-pound forward.

"We feel pretty good about it," Rivers said, referring to Sullinger's back. "Obviously we're going to have to watch it and make sure he gets the right treatment all the time. But I played 13 years with a bad back, and I was OK and I think he will too."

Rivers added, "All of the doctors that we talked to, gave clearance. That's fine by us."

As for Melo, it's clear that his selection was more about developing a player with potential, then adding an immediate impact player.

"He has size. We needed size. This gives us a chance to work with him," Rivers said. "We think he could be a good player."

Sullinger, who left Ohio State after two seasons, averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game and was a first-team All Big Ten performer each of his two seasons for the Buckeyes.

Melo, who also left college after two seasons, was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year this past season. Along with his 7.8 points per game, he also averaged 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks while shooting 56.6 points per game.

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford was destined to play in tonight’s game between Boston and Houston.
 
But for which team?
 
That was the question the four-time All-Star pondered this summer when he narrowed his list of suitors outside of Atlanta to Boston, Houston and Washington, in that order.
 
“I really considered coming here,” Horford told reporters on Monday. “But them and Boston and Washington. (Houston) and Boston were probably the two teams I was really, really looking at. Just a lot to consider.”

When you look at how seamless Horford has fit in with the Celtics and how well the Rockets (13-7) have played this season, you get the feeling that Horford would have found success individually and for whichever team he chose.
 
“At the end of the day, I just felt I was better off being here in Boston,” Horford said.
 
Rockets All-Star James Harden was among the party Houston sent to try and woo Horford to the Rockets.

“I thought we had a chance,” Harden said. “I thought we had a real good chance, but obviously it didn’t work out. Which is fine.”
 
Indeed, the Rockets have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA this season in large part to Harden moving to the point guard position full-time.
 
Not only is he once again ranked among the NBA’s top scorers at 28.3 points which ranks fourth in the NBA, but he’s also dishing out a league-high 11.8 assists per game.
 
“They made it pretty clear in the offseason that he was going to be the point guard,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “He’s got the ball all the time. He had the ball a lot before, but certainly now with their spacing and his ability to make the play himself or the right read to the big rolling or to the many good shooters around, it’s a perfect setup for him and his skillset.”
 
The ability to draw defenders and create space for those around him is one of the many reasons why the Rockets felt Horford would have been an ideal fit for their system.
 
But the same argument can be made for the Celtics who unlike the Rockets, at least attempt to play defense at a high level.
 
Boston began the season ranked among the worst defenses in the NBA, but are currently up to 18th with a defensive rating of 105.0. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ defense ranks 27th in the league with a 107.2 defensive rating.