Five sharpshooters Celtics could target in 2016 NBA Draft
BOSTON – Regardless of how deep a roster may be, the one thing teams are always looking to add is shooting. Few playoff-caliber teams are in dire need of an upgrade in this area more than the Boston Celtics.
They did a good job last season of getting players free enough to launch a ton of shots.
Far too many of those attempts were misses which is clear as day when you consider Boston led the NBA with 89.2 field goal attempts but shot just 43.9 percent which was tied with three other teams for 24th in the NBA.
Fortunately for them, this draft has a decent amount of shooters.
But even if there a few, it wouldn’t matter when you consider the Celtics own more than 13 percent of the draft board with a pick seemingly in range of drafting every player not named Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram.
In addition to the third overall pick, the Celtics also have the 16th, 23rd, 31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th selection.
Between now and the draft, we’ll take a look at the top players with very specific skills that they (hopefully) will bring with them to the NBA.
Today we’ll take a look at the top 5 shooters, all of whom are potential targets of the Boston Celtics.
5. Kyle Wiltjer, PF, Gonzaga
It’s easy to pigeonhole Wiltjer (6-10, 243) as one of the better shooting big men in this draft. But the truth is, he’s one of the best shooters … period. Wiltjer drained 43.8 percent of his 3s taken last season, averaging 20.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. But sadly, there’s not much else to his game that easily translates to the NBA. He lacks the kind of strength or lateral quickness you want in an NBA power forward, which raises major concerns as to whether he can be an adequate defender in the NBA. Throw in the fact that he had a 15.3 body fat percentage at the NBA combine last month and it’s not all that surprising that he’s seen as a late second round pick or possibly undrafted. But considering his strength, which is shooting the ball – a skill all teams covet - he’ll be in some NBA team’s training camp this fall.
4. Ron Baker, SG, Wichita State
A tough-nosed kid who came to the Shockers as a walk-on, few would have envisioned he would be eventually become an NBA prospect. Baker averaged just 13.8 points and 3.2 assists last season and shot a shade under 35 percent on 3s, but he has great mechanics and a fluid shooting motion. And more often than not, he makes the right decision when it comes to shooting or passing the ball. He doesn’t have great size (6-4) at the shooting guard position, but his basketball instincts and a 6-9 ¾ wingspan (as measured at the NBA pre-draft camp last month in Chicago) give him a decent shot at being an adequate NBA defender. Baker is one of the safer picks a team picking in the second round of the draft can make.
3. Jarrod Uthoff, SF, Iowa
A 38.2 percent 3-point shooter last season, that’s not the number that stands out when talking about Uthoff. It’s his size and length (6-9 ¾, 6-11 ½ wingspan) as a small forward (he could play power forward in some small-ball, NBA lineups too) that makes him an intriguing prospect. Along with size, Uthoff has a very diverse skillset evident by him being a legit 3-point shooting threat who can also rebound (6.4 per game) as well as block shots (2.5 blocks per game last season). But because he had a size advantage over most opponents, there are questions about how Uthoff’s ball-handling and ability to beat players off the dribble, will translate to the NBA. There’s a lot to like about Uthoff’s game at the next level. He has heard the many comparisons to former Butler star and current Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward. So as Celtics head coach Brad Stevens who coached Hayward at Butler, and later tried to recruit Uthoff out of high school to play for the Bulldogs as well.
2. Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
Arguably the best senior in college basketball last season, Hield has performed well enough through workouts to where he’s all but guaranteed to be among the top eight players selected and potentially going as high as No. 3 to Boston. And to his credit, draining 85 out of 100 3s in front of the Celtics speaks to some degree as to his mentality in big game-type situations, saving his best workout for the team with the best shot at selecting him. But as phenomenal a shooter he was in college and has been in workouts, Hield still has to convince teams there’s more to his game. All great shooters will have nights when they struggle. What does he bring to the table then? Throughout his career, Hield has not been a great passer. A solid rebounder in college, but there’s no sense that he’ll be anything more than average along those lines at the next level. And defensively, he’s made progress from when he first arrived at Oklahoma. But he won’t be getting any all-NBA defensive love anytime soon, for sure. Still, it’s rare for players to have his shooting range and consistency from deep (he shot 45.7 percent last season on 3s), which is why he’ll be among the top eight or so players selected next week.
Buddy Hield 2016 NBA Draft scouting report
1. Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
Deciding between Murray and Hield is not easy, because both have the ability to help space the floor with their 3-point shooting and are really like 1A and 1B when it comes to being the best shooter in this draft. But I give the slight edge to Murray for a couple reasons. One of the keys to being a really good shooter in the NBA is being able to create your own shot, or showing a knack for creating shots for others that has a boomerang effect and leads to good looks for you later on. Murray can play both guard positions. Hield played a lot of small forward in college, but at 6-4 he doesn’t have size to play that position in the NBA and lacks the overall lateral quickness to defend guards whose calling card in the NBA is foot speed which limits to some degree of who Hield can be matched up against. Both players do well when it comes to creating their own shot, but Murray can create for others as well. Hield? Not so much. Because of that versatility, Murray’s chances of seeing action early on are greater which is why he’s in the shallow pool of potential players the Celtics are considering drafting with the No. 3 overall pick.
A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN