By Chase Whitney- Sports Chowdah. First off, there is almost a 0% chance that the Celtics make all three of their first-round draft picks Thursday night. But, to make it easier on myself, I’m going to pretend that Trader Danny stands pat and for some reason brings three first round rookies to the team.
14. Boston Celtics (from SAC) – Kevin Porter Jr., G/W, USC
Kevin Porter Jr. starred in his workout with the Celtics early this month, showcasing his ability to hit jumpers from all over the floor via the catch-and-shoot and pull-up, while dispelling the questions about his motor and work ethic.
Teams have an understandable concern, because Porter Jr. was suspended midseason at USC for “personal conduct issues.” I tend to chalk those types of “issues” up to immaturity and a struggle to adjust to college rather than it being indicative of his entire personality and NBA career trajectory.
He can handle the ball, shoot it with solid range, and attack the basket when he gets a step on his defender. He shot 41.2% from beyond the arc and 51.7% on two-point shots in his one year in college and showed that he is athletic enough to take defenders off the bounce. He stands at 6’6″ with a 6’9″ wingspan, very good size for a two-guard.
Most mock drafts don’t have Porter Jr. going quite this high, but I think Boston liked him and they can’t risk missing him at 20.
20. Boston Celtics (via LAC) – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a combo guard that has a solid balance of playmaking and shot creation. During his pre-draft workout with the Celtics, he actually broke the team’s draft process record by running down and back the length of the floor 30 times in two minutes. Clearly his agility and athleticism won’t be a problem in the NBA.
He’s a streaky shooter, but he averaged 16 points per game at Virginia Tech last season and his shot form looks alright to me. Off-ball, he moves extremely well. He has great size for a guard (6’5″, 6’10” wingspan), but isn’t the best at finishing through contact despite being above-average at getting to the rim.
22. Boston Celtics – Bol Bol, C, Oregon
In the event that they do make the 22nd pick, swinging for the fences on Bol Bol is absolutely worth it. He’s by far the biggest question mark of the draft as a 7’2″ center with a 7’8″ wingspan that moves like a wing, can handle the ball, and stretch the floor; he’s also listed at just 208 pounds on Oregon men basketball’s website, missed all but nine games with a stress fracture in his foot (big men with foot problems tend to scare off NBA teams), doesn’t play defense, and supposedly has “character flaws.”
No matter his issues, the Celtics are an organization that can afford to wait and see what happens. They’re set on center depth next season with Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Robert Williams, so Bol can spend time with the Maine Red Claws and develop his game against less-dominant competition.
I have a full first-round mock posted on ballmovementblog.com if you want to see what I think the rest of the league will do.