We are just two days removed from an event in which most people sequestered themselves in a room just to watch the greatest meritocracy in sports – The NBA Draft. This draft was different compared to the ones in the past. There were no major draft day trades, no player really slipped and no player was a surprise if they were selected in a slot in which many prognosticated them to go. I nmy opinion every team improved from the draft, but no team improved more than the Boston Celtics. With the No. 6 pick the team selected Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and James Young (Kentucky) with the No. 17 pick. Thursday was the first NBA draft I and maybe other fans knew what it felt like to be proud of “their” team. Both Smart and Young are great picks and are great picks to expedite the rebuilding process.
Marcus Smart being picked with the 6th pick by Boston was quasi-surprising because I honestly thought he would be selected No. 4 by the Orlando Magic instead of Aaron Gordon (Arizona). But him coming to Boston was exciting for every Celtics fan because he brings a lot of intangibles to the team. But looking at his college career real quick, he was named consensus second team All-American (2013), Big 12 Conference Player of the Year (2013), USBWA National Freshman of the Year (2013), 2× first team All-Big 12 (2013–2014), Big 12 Freshman of the Year (2013) and Big 12 Player of the Year (2013). He was also one of thirty finalists for the Naismith College Player of the Year.
Smart is a big 20-year-old, as he is 6-foot-4, 217-pounds at the Point Guard position. Just by looking at his aforementioned height and weight, one would believe he’s a 2-guard but he has mind set he’s a 1-guard. The Texas native clearly has the stature for the league along with other intangibles. Smart is like Rajon Rondo, both are hard workers and have the resolve to complete any task that is needed to help lead their team to victory, and it’s no surprise why Danny Ainge drafted him because of that. Smart was a lockdown defender in his two years in college, and most notably locked down eventual Cleveland Cavaliers No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins. Now in the NBA, Smart’s goal is defend and lockdown LeBron James – remember when Rondo did that? – being a Celtic is all about being tough and Smart naturally has that.
The game of basketball is all about “Getting Buckets” in the words of Uncle Drew. Smart could certainly put the ball in the whole with ease and it became quite evident that he is following a trend of most 1-guards, and that’s being a score-first type of player. In his two seasons at his OSU, he averaged 16.7 points and 4.5 assists. Luckily for him, he will most likely become a 2-guard barring any trade with Rondo, and he would become the primary guard if Rondo is one the bench. It’s also worth noting Smart averaged an eye-popping 5.9 rebounds and 3.0 steals. Looking at all of Smart’s previous characteristics and stats it raises the question, did Ainge draft Rondo 2.0?
General Manager Danny Ainge is a fan of Smart as he said, “He’s a fun player to watch. He gets the juices going. He’s a passionate player… he’s a very versatile player.”
Long-time Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck was jubliated with joy when Smart was available for the team with the No. 6 pick as he said, “Our war room is very happy with the pick. Our basketball guys have been focused on Marcus (Smart) for several weeks.”
Smart brings the passion, intensity sangfroid attitude to the game. Grousbeck is a fan of Smart’s attitude saying, ” We like the fact that he’s an instigator. Red told me that you need instigators, not retaliators. He’s a bull.”
Grousbeck must have a man crush on Smart like I do, the owner would also go on to say, “When you’re rebuilding a team, you take the best available athlete and then you let it all work out. We’ve got an All-Star point guard.” Im very high on Smart as I think he will evolve into a All-Star guard, if he can improve his shot. I see him in the mold of Tyreke Evans and Baron Davis.
Boston drafted James Young with the 17th (acquire from Brooklyn Nets in Pierce/Garnett trade last season). Young is a swingman who played at the aforementioned Kentucky University under John Calipari. In his lone season their he averaged 14.3 points and was named to All-SEC Second Team (2014) and SEC All-Freshmen Team (2014).
The former McDonald’s All-American (2013) is 18-years-old until August 16th meaning that he’s from reaching his potential, and that’s just scary. This past season Young was part of the modern era “Fab-5″ as he and newly-drafted Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle led KY to the National Championship Game as a No. 8 seed.
Young is a great scorer, but needs to improve his shooting as he shot 34.9% from the 3-point line but 47.0% from inside of the arc. All-in-all, he shot 40.7% in his frosh campaign. At 6-foot-7, 215-pounds the Rochester native can play the two and three position depending on the situation.
When Young decided to forgo his final three years of eligibility on April 17th, many draft pundits thought of him as a lottery pick, while some thought of him as mid-late 1st-rounder. Well whomever believed he was a mid-first rounder was correct as his draft selection matched the number he declared.
Young has the potential to parlay into a a go-to scorer on the Celtics, and that’s something the team has been missing the past few seasons. Interestingly enough, Young never actually worked out for the Celtics meaning that the front office seen something in him when he was still on the board. Young had also roomed with now-teammate, Marcus Smart, at the 2014 Draft combine in Chicago, he would go on adulate Smart by saying, “The way he plays is just tough. That’s how Boston players are.”
Coach Stevens spoke highly of Mr. Young this past Thursday as he said, ” James’ MO is that he’s always been a scorer. We felt he is a very undervalued scoring wing. We were surprised he was available.”
Ainge on Young: “We think that James has a chance to be a very complete player. We think he’s a two-way player. He can defend his position.”
It’s great to see Young and Smart dawn the green and white jerseys. Celtics fan can feel tranquil as both picks have a optimum chance to succeed here in Boston once they become acculturate to their new surroundings and the NBA life style. Summer league is around the corner and it’ll be great to see how they produce then. Rondo wasn’t traded away and Kevin Love wasn’t acquired. But Boston does have a nice nucleus consisting of Rondo, Olynyk, Sullinger, Green and the aforementioned Smart and Young, and maybe Avery Bradley if he is re-signed.