Welsh: Best fit for Celtics in NBA Draft?

Welsh: Best fit for Celtics in NBA Draft?
March 29, 2014, 10:00 am
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Most of the big names on the projected NBA Draft board have already been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.

That doesn't stop Tim Welsh from breaking down the stock watch for a handful of guys who could hear the Celtics call their name on Draft Night. 

The Top-Five on the board look like this:

Andrew Wiggins (F) - Kansas (stock - falling)

Joel Embiid (C) - Kansas (stock - falling)

Jabari Parker (F) - Duke (stock - even)

Marcus Smart (C) - Oklahoma St (stock - rising)

Julius Randle (F) - Kentucky (stock - rising)

"I like the way Marcus Smart played at the end of the season," says Welsh. "His game in the NCAA tournament was a little bit uneven with the turnovers, but he got to the free-throw line, he was terrific on the backboards, steals… [He's a] complete player. [He] showed a lot of toughness."

Only one player on that list was still playing as of Friday night - Julius Randle, whose Kentucky Wildcats advanced to the Elite Eight with a 74-69 win over Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals. Randle scored 13 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the win. He nailed two clutch free throws with 13 seconds left and applied the pressure on a game-tying three-point attempt to seal the victory for the Wildcats.

"Julius Randle was special in their win over [1-seed] Wichita State [on Sunday]," says Welsh. "Six assists, just dominating the game from a point forward standpoint. He’s gotten better over the last few weeks."

Two players not on that board who are still dancing to the March Madness mambo have gained additional national exposure and caught Welsh's attention: Aaron Gordon (F) from Arizona, and Shabazz Napier (C) from UConn. 

"Aaron Gordon is becoming maybe a mini Blake Griffin," says Welsh. "I just love his balance, his ability to get to the free throw line, his ability also to play on the perimeter. I think his upside is huge. He could make maybe the biggest jump from maybe the middle part of the college basketball season to the draft. He may be even a top three or four draft [pick]."

Napier, meanwhile, reminds Welsh of another UConn grad - Kemba Walker. Walker was the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, landing with the Charlotte Bobcats, and has averaged 16 PPG in his three seasons with the Bobcats. 

"[Napier] has put Connecticut on his back in the NCAA tournament, but [was] really kind of an undervalued player all season long in my opinion," says Welsh.

Napier scored 19 points and recorded five rebounds and five assists in UConn's 81-76 win on Friday over Iowa State.