This is the 12th in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: T.J. Warren of North Carolina State.
T.J. WARREN, North Carolina State
Small forward/Power forward
6-foot-8, 220 pounds
HIS STORY: Jabari Parker received the most hype and media attention in the ACC, but it was T.J. Warren of N.C. State who was ACC player of the year. And the vote wasn’t even close (48-25). Warren was the third-leading scorer in the country with 24.9 ppg, while also adding 7.1 rpg. Teams game- planned to stop him but were not successful. He wasn’t surrounded by a lot of talent, but put up numbers in an incredibly efficient fashion. The Wolfpack leaned on Warren as he used 33.9 percent of their possessions (via kenpom.com, seventh-most in the country) while having an impressive 57.4 true shooting percentage (aggregate of 2-pointers, weighted 3-pointers and free-throw shooting). He carried N.C. State to a NCAA Tournament bid. The Wolfpack won their opening round (play-in game) against Xavier before being bounced by Saint Louis in overtime.
HIS STRENGTHS: Just to be clear, he’s hands down the best scorer in the draft. His ability to take advantage of the slightest defense misstep to get to the rim is uncanny. Also, he is a terrific shot-maker in traffic and has every type of finish in his arsenal. In addition to making shots around the basket, he has a solid mid-range game. On 2-point attempts this year, he made 58 percent, which is very rarely accomplished by a wing player in the college game. He’s a good rebounder as well, particularly on the offensive end, where he had a rebound rate of 10.8 percent.
HIS WEAKNESSES: Beyond scoring and rebounding, it remains to be seen if Warren will give much more. In college, he didn’t always show up on the defensive end. At times, he would take possessions off. He’s a good athlete, but not great. Also, his size (height 6-8, wingspan 6-10) and athleticism don’t have a true position. He is a 3 on offense but could struggle to stay in front of his counterparts on the other end. As a 4-man, he would be undersized on defense and could struggle to rebound while almost no 4-men will be able to guard him. The one glaring weakness in Warren’s offensive game is his inability to hit threes. He shot 26.7 percent last year and his mechanics were not great.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? Regardless of his lack of range on his jumper, elite scorers are a rarity and that is what the Celtics need. Warren’s Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating last year was 31.07 one of top in the draft class. He won’t blow you away in workouts (although there are reports GMs were more impressed with his athleticism than expected) but when you see him on the floor, his refined offensive game is apparent. He’s only a sophomore. I think he will show more consistent effort on the defensive end as he won’t be carrying the team every night offensively and work on his jumper to round out his game. Because he’s a tweener without terrific athleticism, he most likely will not go in the lottery. I think he will be there for the Celtics at 17 and, if so, he’d look great in green.
Coming on SUNDAY: UConn point guard Shabazz Napier.