With the Boston Celtics being slotted the number 6 pick in the NBA draft and all hopes of Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins carrying the team into the future gone, I figured it a good time to take a look at the best possible draft scenario for the Boston Celtics.
If the Celtics are lucky enough to have Noah Vonleh fall past the Jazz in the number give spot they absolutely must take him. To fully understand why Noah Vonleh to the Boston Celtics is the best option for the team we must look at who he is as a player skill wise, physically, and as a fit in Boston.
Physically Vonleh initially just seems to fit the bill as an NBA power forward. Standing at 6’9” and weighing 247 pounds Vonleh looks like a typical power forward, but that’s where the typical aspects of Vonleh end. Adding on to that 6’9” frame is Vonleh’s tremendous 7’4” wingspan allowing him to play bigger than he is. This great length allows Vonleh to both block shots and avoid being blocked on offense.
Adding to his already great length at forward Vonleh is an above average athlete. With a reported 37 inch vertical (per NBAdraftexpress.com) Vonleh can pair his explosive leaping and length to go over defenders or alter shots. With a sturdy frame and solid athleticism Vonleh looks like he could step into the NBA today, but it’s his skills with the ball that will prove most useful in his rookie season.
In his time at Indiana Vonleh showcased everything scouts would look for from a power forward of his size and athleticism. With several highlight reel dunks and impressive rejections at the hoop Vonleh was able to capitalize on his superiority as an athlete. However there are a million great athletes in the world therefore what separate a Vonleh the most as a prospect is his offensive versatility and polish.
While at Indiana Vonleh wasn’t just a high energy big he instead played a wonderful stretch big man showcasing a variety of scoring options.Perhaps most impressive is Vonleh’s range as a spot up jumper. In his only year at Indiana Vonleh shot an astounding 48% from behind the line. He may have only taken an average of one three per game but clearly the potential is there. Pair his shooting upside with an above average hook shot on the low block and Vonleh has massive offensive upside.
Vonleh’s last and greatest strength is also his greatest weakness, still only 18 years old he is one of the youngest players in the draft. Already having an NBA ready body and solid offensive game at such a young age is something scouts don’t see very often, however being so young Vonleh also has a lot of work to do to maximize his potential. Averaging over two turnovers per game and less than one assist per game Vonleh isn’t an adept low post passer and can slow down the flow of the offense at times. Vonleh also lackspolish in other areas of the game where he could use more experience and coaching such a defensive rotations, footwor on both ends of the court, and shot creation. His lack of polish may be most notable at the free throw line where he shoots only 71% despite his solid mechanics and stroke from outside.
Vonleh clearly has a good upside, but his fit with the Celtics is what makes him a truly intriguing prospect in my eyes. Although he is not the true seven footer the team desperately needs on the inside he helps to fill most of the problem areas the team has. The Boston Celtics main weaknesses this past season were defensive rebounds, rim protection, and scoring. Vonleh would only help minimally on the offensive end despite his signs of potential but could really help in the other two areas.
Last season the Celtics best two defensive rebounders were Jared Sullinger (4.9 per game) and point guard Rajon Rondo (4.7), and with no one player averaging over five defensive rebounds, and players like Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass being very weak on the defensive boards, Vonleh who averaged 6.6 defensive boards in 25 minutes per game would provide energy and depth on the boards.
Vonleh could also use his outrageous 7’4” wingspan and solid leaping ability to help protect the rim unlike the more grounded Sullinger/Olynyk on the inside. Vonleh is not an elite shot blocker but averaging 1.4 bpg at Indiana he would be an instant upgrade protecting the rim.
Unlike many first year players Vonleh would have a relatively simple transition to the NBA because he would be playing along side Rajon Rondo or Phil Pressey, both guards want to spread the ball around and would allow Vonleh to play a simple screen and roll game and to run the floor for easy buckets as he transitions into NBA offenses.
Unpolished and underdeveloped in areas, 18 year old Noah Vonleh would be the perfect pick if he makes it to number 6 in the draft beause of his offensive and defensive upside along with his fit into the Boston Celtics roster and team need.