With their second pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics will select … who?
The Celtics are eight days away from learning where their first pick will fall in the draft lottery. For now, all they know for sure is that they definitely will select 17th, where the pick they acquired in last offseason’s blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets will fall.
The options at No. 17 have nowhere near the upside of the top three or four picks, obviously, but there is still value to be had in the middle of the first round. While this generally isn’t the spot to land stars, it can bring productive complementary players if the front office does its homework.
Zach LaVine, UCLA (SG, 6-foot-5, 180): Rail-thin and inconsistent as a shooter, LaVine tantalizes scouts with his absurd athleticism. If he fills out and can steady his streakiness, LaVine could become one of the steals of the mid-first round.
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State (SF, 6-8, 220): There are major doubts over how much the 23-year-old’s game can grow, but simply as an energetic NBA body, Early might be worth taking a flier on at No. 17. He is not the greatest shooter, defender or rebounder, but he is likely to put in the necessary work.
K.J. McDaniels, Clemson (SG/SF, 6-6, 200): Unbridled energy at both ends of the floor and absurd physical tools make McDaniels one of the most exciting players in this draft. He has NBA super-sub potential, and whichever coach ends up with him is responsible for harnessing McDaniels’ wildness.
Tyler Ennis, Syracuse (PG, 6-2, 180): With their second pick, the Celtics could grab their Jimmy Garoppolo to Rajon Rondo’s Tom Brady. As either a long-term backup or heir to the point guard spot, Ennis has promise.
Clint Capela, Switzerland (C, 6-11, 211): Though his body strength is nonexistent, Capela boasts the length and hops that NBA executives love. Questions over if he can hold up physically against NBA bigs are tempered by the hope that the 19-year-old’s body is a work in progress.
Adreian Payne, Michigan State (PF, 6-10, 245): In the right situation, Payne could have a long career filled with postseason appearances. He brings a rare combination of shooting and rebounding ability that would make him a key cog on a championship contender for years to come.
Kyle Anderson, UCLA (SF, 6-9, 230): He won’t leap like Jerami Grant or get as dirty as Early, but Anderson might have the smoothest — if slowest — shooting stroke among the swing-forward options in this draft.
Jerami Grant, Syracuse (SF, 6-8, 210): The 20-year-old sophomore has the athleticism to make him a sure first-rounder, but his understanding of the game seems to be a beat behind players such as Early and Anderson, who project to play the same position.
Shabazz Napier, UConn (PG, 6-1, 180): Celtics fans would love this pick after watching Napier lead the Huskies to an NCAA title. The score-first guard seems tailor-made for a third- or fourth-guard role in an NBA rotation.
P.J. Hairston, D-League (SG, 6-6, 220): Our pick for the Celtics at No. 17 — for now — Hairston is the type of off-ball scorer who could thrive with Rondo firing passes and Jared Sullinger setting screens. Hairston could be especially enticing for the Celtics if they intend to let Avery Bradley sign elsewhere in free agency.
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