Strategically Speaking


C's strategy should be simple

Forsberg By Chris Forsberg

If the Boston Celtics have made one thing clear as part of the pre-draft process it's that they will take the best player available rather than attempt to fill a need.

Team director of player personnel Austin Ainge recently said: "We always say that, 'Need is a poor evaluator.' And we will try to get the best player we can." Pressed on the topic a few days later, he added, "We will not be avoiding positions this year. We could use help at every position."

The Celtics absolutely must target the best available player at No. 6. If they feel that Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart is the top player, they shouldn't shy away because they have an All-Star point guard in Rajon Rondo. If Noah Vonleh or Julius Randle tops Boston's draft board, the Celtics shouldn't pass on them because the team used its top picks in recent drafts on power forwards Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk.

When you're picking in the middle or back end of the first round, when the separation in talent becomes a bit murkier, a team might have a greater luxury to focus on need. Heck, Boston can be a bit choosier when it picks again at No. 17.

But the top of the draft requires a laser focus on best available talent. Rosters change, players get injured -- no team wants to look back and kick itself for passing on a perennial All-Star because it already had a serviceable body on the depth chart at the time of the draft. And, hey, the Spurs are doing just fine thanks to quality depth at every position.

In an ideal world, the best available player when the Celtics draft would be a shooting guard or a center. But it seems unlikely that will happen at No. 6 this year and Boston must pounce on the player that its tireless research suggests will have the best NBA career.

Mismatched roster must be fixed

Robb By Brian Robb
Special to

The Celtics had a lot of issues last season, but a mismatched roster was chief among them. Brad Stevens had his hands full all season with a power forward depth chart that went four-deep, limiting playing time for a developing youngster like Kelly Olynyk for much of the rebuilding season.

Meanwhile, the team lacked any kind of depth at the center spot.

Stevens was forced to regularly rotate undersized players like Jared Sullinger and Kris Humphries in the middle and that created nightly mismatches on the defensive end. A lack of shooting at the shooting guard and small forward spots also stood out as the Celtics' offense languished at the bottom of the league charts.

Boston's goal with the No. 6 pick should be to correct some of these issues, not further complicate them by adding a talented player at power forward (Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle), where there is depth already. The 2014 draft class is deep, so Boston will not be sacrificing much talent by drafting on need. A terrific pure shooting guard (Nik Stauskas) should be available at No. 6 and someone like the former Michigan star could have plenty of opportunity waiting for him in Boston given Avery Bradley's pending free agency.

If Boston looks for help on the wing, the team could commit to making an athletic Aaron Gordon a small forward for the future or add an explosive scorer like Doug McDermott to the fold.

Right now, the Celtics have plenty of needs, but another young power forward isn't among them. The team should focus this draft on creating a balanced roster that Stevens can build some success with.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.