Top shooting big men on Celtics' draft radar
Top shooting big men on Celtics' draft radar
By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSN Boston Celtics Insider
BOSTON – The Celtics want to add size.
They want to add better shooters.
And if they have their way, they’ll find both qualities in the same player in the June 23 NBA draft.
And while they understand how difficult it can be to land big men with the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, it’s far from being an impossible mission.
Boston traded up in the 2013 NBA draft to select Kelly Olynyk, who in just three seasons ranks fourth all-time among 7-footers with 186 made 3s.
Landing a 7-footer with consistent deep-range talent is rare, but Boston will have its chances - eight to be precise - at securing such a coveted frontcourt player who can also help space the floor with their perimeter game.
Here we take a look at five big men in this year’s draft that are on the Celtics’ radar when it comes to landing big men with perimeter shooting range:
5. Stephen Zimmerman, C, UNLV
He only shot 29.4 percent on 3s in his lone season at UNLV, but he’s just enough of a threat to where teams have to respect his long-range shooting skills. Zimmerman has a nice mid-range touch for a 7-footer and has also shown the ability to be a pretty good passer whether it’s out of double teams or simply finding a teammate cutting to the rim. But the 19-year-old big man did not play with the kind of consistency many would have liked to have seen, and has shown himself to be more of a finesse big man which may limit how much a team will turn to him, at least early on in his career. EXPECTED DRAFT POSITION: LATE FIRST ROUND, EARLY SECOND
4. Ben Bentil, PF, Providence College
Bentil began turning heads with strong play and solid measurements at the NBA combine in Chicago last month. During workouts, he has continued to perform well. A league executive who watched one of his recent workouts said Bentil has looked to have a better perimeter game than they saw in college. “We knew he could shoot 3s a little, but his mid-range game is pretty good as well,” the executive told CSNNE.com. “Not as tall as you would like, but he makes up for it by having pretty good length.” The 6-foot-9 forward has a 7-foot wingspan which enables him to length-wise, hold his own against potentially taller players. And those players then have to deal with defending a 32.9 percent 3-point shooter last season who can also put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. EXPECTED DRAFT POSITION: LATE FIRST ROUND, EARLY SECOND
3. Petr Cornelie, PF-C, France
Cornelie is one of the more raw players in this draft, but has shown tremendous potential in part because of his size, motor and ability to shoot 3s while standing 6-foot-11. Because he is relatively new to the game of basketball, most of his scoring comes via effort plays such as put-backs and baskets in transition. But this past season, he displayed a touch from the outside in which he shot around 40 percent on 3s. More than anything else, he’ll eventually be a high-energy type of player coming off a team’s bench. EXPECTED DRAFT POSITION: LATE FIRST ROUND, EARLY SECOND
2. Henry Ellenson, PF-C, Marquette
Of the 7-footers in this draft, Ellenson is arguably the most complete player among them in terms of offensive skills. He has great footwork which allows him to get his shots off in the paint, face-up and yes, even from 3-point range where he was 30-for-104 (28.8 percent). While his percentage numbers from 3-point range are nothing to get excited about, the potential to stretch the floor is definitely there. The biggest concerns center around his defense; specifically his ability to defend on pick-and-roll switches. He doesn’t have the elite or even average athleticism of some other draft prospects, often making up for it with his basketball smarts. Still, the 19-year-old has a great feel for the game, understands his strengths and weaknesses and more often than not, sticks to what he does best. EXPECTED DRAFT POSITION: TOP-10, LOTTERY PICK (TOP-14)
1. Marquese Chriss, F, Washington
Chriss is a high-riser, on the floor as well as on the draft boards of many teams. At 6-10, 235 pounds, Chriss has the size to play power forward and some small-ball center, but the shooting range and athleticism to play small forward and potentially be a big 2 (shooting guard) depending on who he’s on the floor with. Has a very solid mid-range touch and showed signs of being able to extend his range out to beyond the 3-point line where he connected on 35 percent of his 3s during his lone season at Washington. But the very traits that make him special – his athleticism – have also hurt him in some ways. Because he has just been so much superior to opponents athletically, he isn’t as fundamentally sound as you would like for a player with his talents. And despite his size and ability to play above the rim, he’s not a particularly good rebounder. The flaws to his game has raised some questions about where his basketball IQ stands which is why a player many deem as having top-five talent will likely wind up being selected a few rungs down from that lofty perch. EXPECTED DRAFT POSITION: LOTTERY (TOP-14) TO MID-TEENS.