The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Dave Long

Sports Glossary

Players who are solid or better who were picked after sixth overall in the last nine NBA drafts:  
2013: Rookie of the Year Michael Carter Williams was picked at 11 and Nerlens Noel at 6. 2012: Damian Lillard at 6, Andre Drummond at 9 and Jared Sullinger 21. 
2011:  Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard went at 15, Klay Thompson at 11. 
2010: Gordon Hayward went 9 and First Team all-NBA selection Paul George went 10 to the Pacers, Eric Bledsoe 18, Avery Bradley 19. 
2009: Stephen Curry at 7, DeMar Rozen, who had a breakout year in Toronto, at 9. 
2008: Brook Lopez, 10. Roy Hibbert, his horrendous playoff performance aside,17, and Serge Ibaka, 24. 
2007: Joakim Noah at 9 after being the consensus pick to be first overall the previous year if he hadn’t stayed in school after winning his first title at Florida. 
2006: The best player in that entire draft went at 21 in the person of Rajon Rondo. 
2005: Andrew Bynum, who was pretty good until he turned into a dog, at 10 by L.A., Danny Granger at 17, Gerald Green, who took about six years to grow up, but was great off the bench for surprising Phoenix this year, at 19 by the Celtics, and David Lee at 30.

Celtics look to the future

By Dave Long

 So I’m down here in the bunker with Celtics GM Danny Ainge in the final days leading up to draft night. And since Danny bet the whole season on it, when it arrives Thursday it’s the most important day of the year.  

Danny’s got three options. He can stay the course by picking at 6th and 17th overall and let the team (hopefully) tick up over last year’s dismal campaign. He can do the picks and find a free agent who’ll help speed the recovery. Or he can trade his way to better days like in the summer of 2007 when he traded picks and promising young’ns for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. I guess he could also trade Rajon Rondo for more picks and young talent, but that would set things back even further, so I’m against that one.  
Biggest Needs: As constituted, the biggest needs are for a center to be the defensive anchor, a go-to scorer a la Paul Pierce in his salad days, and a money shooter who can make threes off penetration and to punish double teams. 
The Big Trade Option: It’s the quickest way back into contention, as evidenced by winning the title right after getting Ray and KG. Many believe a Kevin Love deal would start that process, but reality says it’s a long shot — though not as completely dead as it seemed until Golden State sobered up and decided not to include Klay Thompson in any prospective deal. But, after being awful since trading KG for picks and youngn’s, Minnesota probably won’t go that route again unless they have no choice.  
However, a Love deal aside, there don’t appear to be any blow-it-up teams with players who make the kind of impact KG and Ray did. Among the possible options are injury-prone Al Horford, aging Tyson Chandler, Roy Hibbert, who was awful in the playoffs, and/or offensively challenged (and expensive) Omar Asik. For wing scorer, the most appealing to me is Gerald Green, who after finally growing up has turned into the volume scorer I always thought he’d be. Go-to scorer — none. 
Free Agents: Carmelo Anthony is a go-to scorer, but he’s not a good fit and vice versa. Plus the cap situation isn’t what it will be in 2015 so a big free agent probably can’t happen until then. But with assets like Keith Bogans’ non-guaranteed $5 million salary to use, a sign and trade with a cap -trapped team for a complementary player is possible.   
That leaves staying the course in the draft as the most likely improvement option, which means it’ll happen gradually. Taking that route also means dealing with the pessimists who say you can’t get someone good enough at 6 — which the list in today’s Sports Glossary shows is nonsense. So here is the way I’d like to see things fall at 6 and 17:  
The Sixth Pick Overall: The rumor mill had them focused on Aaron Gordon. A superior athlete, strong/versatile defender and high motor guy, all of which I like. But I just can’t get by the fact that he’s a 42-percent foul shooter, because that means he can’t shoot. Plus a bigger fish might have fallen into their laps after Joel Embiid had two screws inserted into the navicular bone in his foot last week. That probably takes Cleveland at first overall out of the picture. After blowing last year’s top pick on Anthony Bennett they can’t afford the risk Embiid represents. And with the Greg Oden injury odyssey still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s probably ditto for Milwaukee and Utah at two and five, plus Philly just had Nerlens Noel sit out all last year, so their appetite for doing that again may not be that great. So if Orlando doesn’t bite he could slide to six. But the Sixers also lust for Andrew Wiggins, who’ll be gone if the Embiid slide happens, so maybe they’re up for a trade that could put the Cs in better position.
The Deal: Philly gives Cleveland the 3rd and their 10th overall to move up to No. 1 to take Wiggins. The Celtics give Cleveland Jeff Green, the 6th pick and a second-round pick to move up to 3, as well as get Dion Waiters and salary cap offsets, then, after Milwaukee takes Jabari Parker they pick Embiid. Of course there’s a but, and a major one at that. The bone Embiid broke is a tricky one and since (gulp) it ended the careers of Bill Walton and Yao Ming he’s a major risk. 
The 17th Pick:  If I’m taking on the Embiid risk, I need a surer pick than 17 provides, because blowing both picks would be a disaster. While there are other options, I want Creighton’s Doug McDermott. All I hear from scouts is what he can’t do because they’re enamored with “athleticism.” While he has defensive concerns (which Larry Bird also had, I might add), I like him for his high motor, superior basketball IQ, toughness and because it’s a three-point-shot league and he can shoot. Playing with Rondo he’ll get open looks off his penetration and make double-teamers pay. So at worst he’s Kyle Korver, but since he can score on the block and pass, he’ll be more. To get him they need to be inside Charlotte at 9.  Sacramento picks at 8 and is looking to trade it for an established player, so perhaps the now expendable Avery Bradley will entice them.   
Who knows how it will all go on Thursday, but if it falls the way I’ve outlined, the Celtics get the center to build around, a potential volume scorer in Waiters, who didn’t mesh well with Kyrie Irving, and a deep bomber in McDermott. When added to the core of Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk it’s not a contender, but it gets them a step closer and should make C-fans eager to see it evolve. 
Given the circumstances, that’s probably the best Celtics Nation can expect.  
Email Dave Long at
As seen in the June 26, 2014 issue of the Hippo. 

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