Let me start off by saying that I am not a big NBA guy. I love collegiate basketball with a passion, but don’t watch much on the professional side. I follow the Boston Celtics, but don’t watch every game. Since college basketball is my jam and I have an opinion on everything, I was absolutely glued to the draft last night. Here are my overall thoughts on the #1 overall pick and the interesting choices the Boston Celtics made.
My first thought is the same as it has been for months: Ben Simmons has the potential to be an absolute bust for the Philadelphia 76ers. I watched a fair amount of Simmons at LSU last year and I was unimpressed. I know he had a terrible supporting cast in Baton Rouge, but he didn’t look like a dominant player to me. That could just be inexperience and in time he will be a superstar, but I’m just not convinced he was “the guy” in the draft this year. He has plenty of potential and I could be wildly off, but I think we are going to look back at this draft in 5 years and think the 76ers should have taken Duke’s Brandon Ingram.
The Celtics picking University of California forward Jaylen Brown at #3 was an interesting choice. After seemingly trying to trade the pick (and overvaluing it) for weeks leading up to the draft, the selection upset a lot of Celtics fans. The C’s need a big man who can score and Brown is not that. He averaged 14.6 ppg and 5.4 rpg in his only year in college, shooting 43% from the field. He has a big frame (6’7″ 225 lbs) and athletically could be ready to contribute on the earlier side, but he needs to spend time working on his rebounding and offensive game before he becomes an impact player.
I harp on this a lot, but Brown’s impact (or lack their of) in big games gets me concerned about his makeup and ability to perform at a high level. In the 2 conference tournament games he played in, Brown averaged 10 ppg and just 3.5 rpg, while shooting 17.4% from the floor (4 for 23). In Cal’s only tournament game, a loss to Hawaii, Brown played just 17 minutes and had 4 points (1 for 6 from the field) and 2 rebounds. In the biggest games, Brown was a non-factor.
Where I think the Celtics excelled was in the 2nd round. Guard Demetrius Jackson out of Notre Dame was projected my many as a 1st rounder but fell to the C’s at #45. He is a small guard (6’1″ 198 lbs), but is experienced at leading an offense and making clutch plays. He had 2 huge makes late in Notre Dame’s win against Wisconsin int he Sweet 16 last year and then dropped 26 pts in their loss to UNC in the Elite Eight. His 3 pt shooting percentage dropped his last year at Notre Dame to 38% (after being nearly 43%), but he still averaged 15.8 pts, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game.
Forward Ben Bentil out of Providence was another nice 2nd round pick for the C’s. I believe Bentil is a first round talent and was a steal at #51. With all the attention on his Providence teammate Kris Dunn, Bentil flew a little under the radar. He is a mobile big man who can score with relative ease. He averaged 21.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg last year and broke the 30 pt mark in 4 games and the 40 pt mark in 1 game. Bentil is a raw talent who will need time before he is a major C’s contributor, but in a few years, he could be a force.
The issue with all these picks is time. They all need time to develop and C’s fans were hoping for a Jimmy Butler or Nerlens Noel deal to improve the team immediately and make a run in 2016-2017. A deal might still happen for an experienced star, but for now, C’s fans have to be patient and expect a longer build time.