Boston Celtics: Jimmy Butler
* Mock, Version 1.0: Chris Singleton, Florida State
* Mock, Version 2.0: Jordan Williams, Maryland
* Mock, Version 3.0: Nikola Vucevic, USC
* Mock, Version 4.0: JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
* Mock, Version 5.0: Jeremy Tyler, Tokyo Apache
* Mock, Version 6.0: Jeremy Tyler, Tokyo Apache
Are you sold on Butler? Prefer one of the big men previously rumored? Sound off in the comments.
Boston brought back Marquette's Jimmy Butler for a second workout within a week, putting Butler in the mix at No. 25. The Celtics are also considering Jeremy Tyler, who played in Israel and Japan recently, among other places. Cleveland State's Norris Cole also has been tabbed as a favorite among some circles in the organization. Cole has interest in teams like Sacramento if the Kings don't get a point guard in the lottery.
Hop HERE to read more on Butler and HERE for Tyler. Katz also reiterates the Celtics' potential interest in Boston College's Reggie Jackson.
* Forsberg's thoughts: Butler's stock has risen in the past week and it's due to more than his amazing story of simply getting to this point. What keeps sticking out in my mind is how our ESPN researchers identified Butler as one of the safest picks in the draft because of his defense-first skill set. Butler has great size for a wing player and could really thrive in a Tony Allen-like role that Boston so desperately missed last season after the freak spine injury to Marquis Daniels. The question, of course, is whether Butler provides too similar a player to Jeff Green, but it's not a bad thing to have depth at the wing position.
Butler, who averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game as a senior at Marquette, has seen his draft stock rise in recent weeks, so much so that ESPN.com draft guru Chad Ford suggested Monday that the Celtics could target him with their first-round pick. Here's more from his ESPN.com draft profile:
Positives: Smooth scorer... Can score inside and outside... Solid rebounder... Can be a lockdown defender
Negative: Not a great athlete... Lacks great quickness or explosiveness... A bit of a tweener?
Ford's analysis: His workouts, by virtually all accounts, have been stellar. He won the MVP award at the Portsmouth Invitational. He impressed scouts with a strong performance at the Chicago pre-draft combine. He's drawn praise from virtually every NBA scout and GM who has worked him out. But it's been the interview process that has created the most buzz. Representatives from team after team told me he was one of the most impressive young men they've ever met.
In the news: Ford penned a tremendous piece on Butler last week. Here's more from that story:
"I don't like the look of you. You gotta go." Those were the last words Jimmy Butler says he remembers his mother saying to him before, according to his recollection, she kicked him to the curb. He was 13 years old. There was no family to run to. No place to call home. No money in his pocket. Most kids his age are concerned with school, sports, girls. Butler was just trying to survive. Alone.
Forsberg's take: Celtics coach Doc Rivers hasn't met a Marquette alumn he hasn't liked, so Butler certainly has that working in his favor. The fact that he's got solid size, can add depth at the wing position, and is regarded as a solid defender, only aids his cause. Originally pegged as a potential late second-round pick, Butler is drawing so much interest now he might not last beyond early second round (meaning Boston's best chance at him might be at No. 25, or trading into the early second round). What's more, our ESPN research team pegged Butler as one of the safest picks in this year's draft, his college career suggesting he'll carve out a defined role with any NBA team.
Payne's take: Butler isn't lauded for his athleticism or for having a stellar jump shot. Instead, it's his willingness to do the little things that every team needs, coupled with some stellar intangibles that will most likely keep in him in the league for some time. Whether Butler will still be on the board at No. 55 is the real question, but if he does slide to that point, the C's shouldn't pass on the chance to add a well-rounded talent with a high basketball IQ to their bench for future years.
Given Boston's recent veteran-laden rosters and coach Doc Rivers preference to lean on his more experienced players, that drives that number down even lower with the Celtics. So whether Ainge was tempering expectations for next week's draft, or simply showing how difficult it can be to pluck that late-round gem, we couldn't help but wonder if there was anything close to a sure bet at the back end of the first round.
ESPN Stats and Info researchers Peter Newmann and Dean Oliver crunched the numbers and examined the prospects and came back with four suggestions for specialized players they believe are capable of making an immediate NBA impact. From Newmann and Oliver:
Finding value with a pick late in the NBA Draft is difficult. There may be players who stick in the league for a short period of time, but major contributors are rare.
Last season, Landry Fields (No. 39 overall pick) was one of three rookies who played at least 30 minutes per game as a rookie (Blake Griffin, John Wall). In previous years, other late first-round picks and second-round picks who yielded great value include: Marcus Thornton (No. 43 in 2009), Nicolas Batum (No. 25 in 2008), George Hill (No. 26 in 2008), Arron Afflalo (No. 27 in 2007), Paul Millsap (No. 47 in 2006) and Monta Ellis (No. 40 in 2005).
There are several prospects in the 2011 NBA Draft class that stand out as potential late first-round picks or second-round picks who could be impact players. [ESPN Stats and Info has] identified four players who each have a specialty skill that will help improve an NBA team:
* Jimmy Butler is a versatile wing player who doesn't make a lot of mistakes and can do the understated things a coach looks for - play defense, hit the opportunistic shot, and grab more rebounds than his matchup.
* Travis Leslie is an explosive athlete whose skill set is reminiscent of Shannon Brown. With an unrefined jumpshot but great explosiveness and willingness to defend, he can be the type of player who provides energy and a change of pace off the bench.
* Nikola Vucevic is a big man from USC who has a mid-range jump shot and enough defensive presence that is fairly rare entering the league. Offensively, he won't clog the lane but can get offensive boards. Defensively, he has enough bulk to hold his own in the post and will also work on the glass.
* Jordan Williams is the player among these who has the best chance to play consistent minutes on good teams. He has one great skill as a rebounder that allows a coach to put him in just for that. His strength and size will also allow him to defend many NBA big men. Offensively, he will be opportunistic around the basket and be safe with the ball.
Whether these players will become role stars, rotation players or stars is yet to be seen, but the specialty skill each of these players have gives them a better chance at sticking with an NBA team than some of their fellow prospects and a better chance at making an impact in the NBA.
Both Vucevic and Williams have been pegged as potential Celtics choices as part of Chad Ford's mock draft series. Both are intriguing big men. If there's one way to crack Rivers' rotation, being a Marquette guy wouldn't hurt, and that could bode well if the Celtics were to land swingman Butler. Leslie is pegged by Ford as a "super athletic" combo guard who can finish around the basket.
So, armchair general managers, let's say all four players are still on the board when Boston selects with pick No. 25 next Thursday. Who's your selection? Do any of the four intrigue you? Sound off in the comments.
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