WALTHAM, Mass. – The further down the NBA draft board you get, the deficiencies in a player’s game become all the more apparent.
The center with a great touch around the basket, but has a pair of cement feet when it comes to moving defensively. The shooting guard with seemingly limitless range packaged in a 5-foot-10-inch frame. Small forwards with elite defensive skills but no ball-handling talent to speak of.
The Boston Celtics had a number of prospects in for workouts this week with very clear, well-defined strengths, with weaknesses that were just as apparent.
Indeed, there’s a fine line they must walk between showcasing what they have done well in order to be even considered a NBA draft prospect, while proving (if they can) that there’s more to their game than their one obvious strength.
Pascal Siakam understands this all too well.
A 6-10, 227-pound forward out of New Mexico State, the 22-year-old led the nation this past season with 22 double-doubles while leading the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) with 20.3 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game while shooting 53.9 percent from the field.
And while teams love his production, energy and non-stop motor, his perimeter shooting raises a lot of questions especially when you consider he shot just 20 percent (3-for-15) on 3s this season.
“I’m just trying to show that I’m a competitor,” Siakam told CSNNE.com following his workout with the Celtics on Monday. “I come to this workout and do what I do best; I’m not trying to force anything.”
And as far as his shooting touch, Siakam said it had a lot to do with the system he played in and the role that had to be carved out in order for the team to be successful.
“I have pretty good form when you look at my shot,” he said. “The role that I had in college, I didn’t have to shoot a lot of jumpers. From my freshman year to my sophomore year I improved a lot on my shot. And I know it’s going to keep on improving. The form is there. It’s just about getting reps and consistency.”
Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, has seen enough from prospects to know what they do well and what their weaknesses may be. That’s why the focus in bringing in any potential draft prospect, is to put them in as many game-like situations as possible to see how they handle themselves.
“It’s a case-by-case basis,” Ainge said. “We sit down with the coaches and we discuss what we’d like to see from each guy in the workout and we put them in different situations to try and probe some of those strengths and weaknesses.”
Ainge said with Siakam, his workout consisted of him playing on the perimeter and the post, as well as guarding smaller players and more traditional big men.
“We put him in all those different situations,” Ainge said. “Gotta love his energy and obviously the number of rebounds he got this year. He brings that every night.”
That is why Siakam is not overly stressed about proving to teams he can knock down shots. While he may not be a 3-point shooter, he brings a slew of other intangibles to the floor as well as a 7-3 wingspan, a high level of intensity and a nose for rebounding the basketball.
And that’s why the Cameroon native is a sure-fire draft pick whose name has come up as a potential late-first round pick, which could make him a potential Celtics target with the No. 23 overall pick.
“I don’t get too caught up in the (draft) predictions,” Siakam said. “I just try to go out there and show teams what I can do and get drafted.”
A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN