Friday, June 29, 2012

Celtics Draft a Trio of Forwards

Going into last night's NBA Draft, the biggest area of need for the Celtics was to add size.  They accomplished that goal with their two first round picks, taking Ohio State's Jared Sullinger at 21 and Fab Melo of Syracuse at 22.  With their second round pick, 51st overall, they selected Melo's college teammate Kris Joseph.

Sullinger, once considered a lock for the Top 10, fell to the Celtics over concerns about the health of his back.  The 6-9, 270-pound power forward did miss two games last season with back spasms but he also had a terrific year, averaging 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in leading the Buckeyes to the Final Four.  Based on his body type, it's easy to compare him to former Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis but from watching him play in college, Sullinger has a more developed low post game.  The best case scenario is that he can contribute immediately by giving Kevin Garnett (assuming he returns) time to rest while providing some scoring for the bench.  The worst case scenario is that his health prevents him from getting on the floor.

Melo is a 7-0, 255-pound project.  He did make improvements in his conditioning and game from his freshman to sophomore seasons, increasing his scoring average from 2.3 to 7.8 points and boosting his rebound averages from 1.9 to 5.8 which was mostly due to being able to stay on the floor for longer stretches of time.  The best case scenario is that he can learn the Celtics defensive rotations well enough to provide minutes as a defender and rebounder.  The worst case scenario is that a marginal player such as Ryan Hollins finds a way to beat him out and Melo spends most of his rookie year in the D League.

Joseph is an intriguing second round pick.  The 6-7, 215-pound swingman was a double digit scorer in his last three seasons at Syracuse but his field goal percentages (49%, 45.6%, and 42.1%) dropped every season and he never shot better than 36.6% from 3-point land.  However, he is athletic and if he could develop his shot, there might be a place for him on the Celtics bench.

Overall, the draft was a success for the Celtics.  I was a fan of Iowa State's Royce White but he was taken by Houston before the C's had a shot at him.  Sullinger is a proven commodity at the college level and should be able to come in and immediately help the Celtics off the bench, Melo provides much needed size and can hopefully give the team some quality minutes, and Joseph could turn out to be Danny Ainge's latest steal of the second round.

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