Blakely: Will the Celtics go with a big man at pick No. 27?
As much as having options is important when it comes to NBA rosters, size really does matter.
And while the Celtics have a solid core of players under contract for next season, there are some noticeable potential holes at the “big” position.
Aron Baynes, the league’s leader last season in defensive rating, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
And Greg Monroe, acquired after agreeing to a buyout with the Phoenix Suns, will also be a free agent this summer.
Boston will try and re-sign Baynes, but his play was strong enough this past season where he may become too pricey for the Celtics to bring back while Monroe is expected to sign with another team this summer.
That leaves Al Horford, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele has the top three bigs for Boston coming into this season.
So for a team that has few needs heading into the offseason, finding added depth upfront whether it’s through the draft or via free agency, becomes vital.
Here are five big men that should be on the radar of the Boston Celtics, current owners of the No. 27 pick in this month’s NBA draft. . .
Mitchell Robinson, 7-0 C, Western Kentucky
Stats Last season: N/A*
Summary: There is no bigger mystery in this year’s draft than Robinson, a talented big man who will become the first recruited draft pick to not play for any college, high school post-graduate or professional team for the year before entering the draft. He has exceptional timing as a shot-blocker and above-average athleticism, but he’s somewhat of a newcomer to the game of basketball – he’s only been playing for four years – which combined with his youth makes for an intriguing prospect with tremendous upside. If he’s on the board when the Celtics are picking at No. 27, it would be hard to imagine the Celtics passing him by.
*Signed with Western Kentucky, but never played. His last season of competitive basketball came as a high school senior in 2017 when he averaged 25.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and six blocked shots for Chalmette (La.) while earning McDonald’s All-America status.
Omari Spellman, 6-9 F/C, Villanova
Stats last season: 10.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game.
Summary: He doesn’t have ideal size for an NBA center, but it’s not as big an issue in this era with teams going with smaller lineups more frequently. Spellman’s offensive game is a work in progress, but you love his ability to protect the rim and be a legit pick-and-pop option. For a Celtics team that’s looking thin along the frontlines heading into the 2018-2019 season, Spellman is worth consideration.
2018 NBA Draft Reel: Omari Spellman
Brandon McCoy, 7-1 C, UNLV
Stats last season: 16.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots
Summary: A raw talent, McCoy is a strong rebounder with the potential to be an above-average rim protector in the NBA. He has shown an improved mid-range game and has impressed teams with his 3-point shooting potential during workouts. Considering the lack of depth Boston has at the center position, McCoy would be a solid addition to the roster.
Chimezie Metu, 6-10 F/C, USC
Stats last season: 15.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.
Summary: Metu has a deceptively wide-ranging game offensively, having shown the ability to score in transition leading the break or as a rim-runner capable of finishing off a play. He has an offensive game that has improved during his time at USC, but isn’t quite as consistent as it needs to be in order to really move up the draft board. Metu has the ability to play multiple positions which makes him someone who falls well in line with the type of players that Danny Ainge and company are trying to bring to Boston.
Moritz Wagner, 6-11 F/C, Michigan
Stats last season: 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.0 steals per game
Summary: With Wagner’s size and ability to stretch the floor offensively, his status as a first-round pick should be a given considering how teams around the league covet big men who can stretch the floor beyond 3-point range. But with Wagner, his defensive shortcomings have raised concerns with most NBA teams. He lacks the kind of athleticism and ability to switch out defensively, that teams are really searching for when it comes to adding big men. Taking him at No. 27 seems a bit of a stretch now, but if scores higher than expected in lateral quickness and other agility-related drills during workouts, it would not come as a shock to see his stock start to rise as well in the eyes of NBA teams.