2020 NBA Draft: Prototypical bigs who could fit with Celtics
The actual date of the NBA draft is up in the air, but that hasn’t kept teams from doing their due diligence to prepare for it. The Boston Celtics are no different as they speed ahead with Zoom conference calls with potential prospects.
But unlike most teams, the Celtics will have multiple shots — three, actually — at adding youthful talent in the first round to a roster that’s already full of players who have shown promise of greatness at a still early stage in their careers.
However, Boston’s roster appears as though it could use a little more heft in the frontcourt going forward. And it appears that where the Celtics are likely picking in the first round of this year’s draft (Nos. 17, 26 and 30) aligns well with where most of the draft’s better big men are likely to fall.
When it comes to Celtics big men, there’s a certain profile that most of them come to Boston with. Here’s a look at some prototypical Celtics bigs in this year’s NBA draft:
1. Precious Achiuwa
6-foot-9, 223 pounds, Memphis
Achiuwa has the size and skill set to play both forward positions in the NBA. The AAC Player of the Year has elite athleticism which all teams covet.
For the Celtics, he possesses the kind of positional versatility that head coach Brad Stevens loves in all of his players. While he stands 6-9, Achiuwa has a 7-2 ¼ wingspan and a 9-foot standing reach. Combine that with a high energy-brand of basketball, and you have someone the Celtics will look at closely if he’s still on the board when they are on the clock with the 17th overall pick.
2. Daniel Oturu
6-foot-10, 240 pounds, Minnesota
Most know Oturu for what he brings to the table as a rim-protecting, shot-blocking big man. This past season, Oturu ranked among the NCAA’s leaders with 2.45 blocks per game.
But his offensive game showed promise of being impactful in the NBA as well. He scored 20 or more points in five of Minnesota’s last six games. But just as significant, he showcased the ability to score in pick-and-pop sets, similar to what he did as a freshman when he averaged 1.3 points-per-possession on pick-and-pops, which according to Synergy, ranked him among the 90th percentile in college basketball.
He’s considered by most evaluators as a late-first, early-second round pick — similar to how many viewed Grant Williams a year ago before Boston drafted him with the 22nd overall pick.
3. Jalen Smith
6-foot-10, 225 pounds, Maryland
Has ideal size and length for the frontcourt, with the skills to help space the floor courtesy of a nice catch-and-shoot game.
There’s the potential for him to be a solid pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop player who is equally adept at finishing with his left or right hand at the rim. But his passing skills out of the post (or otherwise) need work, as well as his pick-and-pop defense, which far too often leaves too much space for shooters.
With the Celtics owning a pair of late first-round picks (No. 26 and No. 30), Smith would be worth at a minimum being in the conversation for selecting with one of those last two picks.
4. Vernon Carey Jr.
6-foot-10, 260 pounds, Duke
A decade ago, we might have been talking about Vernon Carey Jr. as a likely lottery pick. He has tremendous size and strength, the kind that few prospects in this year’s draft class possess.
He plays with a high level of physicality and toughness which any team — including the Celtics — could benefit from having on their roster. However, he hasn’t shown the ability to stretch defenses offensively, and it’s unclear how he will deal with quicker bigs in the NBA who can stretch the floor.
But if you're the Celtics, he’s worth considering near the end of the first round.
5. Isaiah Stewart
6-foot-9, 245 pounds, Washington
Projected by most as an early second-round selection, it shouldn’t shock anyone if the Celtics or another team takes Stewart near the end of the first.
What he lacks in height, he more than compensates for with a high motor and a thirst for defense and crashing the glass, which are both fueled by an unusual elite-level bounce off the dribble that’s similar — but not nearly as consistent or impactful — as what we see from last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Zion Williamson.
However, his offensive game is a work in progress to say the least with him having shown minimal signs of being able to score away from the basket. But if he’s on the board at the very end of the first round and the Celtics want to draft a big and not stash one overseas, Stewart would be worth considering.