Boston Celtics Address a Need With Their First Round Selections


The Boston Celtics began last night's NBA Draft with three first round selections, and when all was said and done, they made two of them.  Once you get out of the top 5, maybe the top 10 in some years, predicting player's success becomes a crapshoot.  I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I know for sure how the careers of these guys will pan out.  However, I do see one major area where last night's selections could help Boston immediately.

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Round 1, Pick 14: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

Langford is from Indiana, played high school ball in Indiana ,and then finished it off with one year of college ball in Indiana.  He is an Indiana boy through and through, so you can bet your house that Brad Stevens knows him inside and out.

Langford's 27% three-point shooting is going to be the number that jumps off the page to folks.  There's no sugar coating it...that is terrible.  He did play through a torn ligament in his thumb last year, which likely affected his shot a bit, but 27% is still 27%.  Despite his poor three-point shooting, let me tell you why I like this pick.

194.  That's the amount of free throws Langford attempted last year.  That mark was good for 5th in the Big 10.  On average, he got to the line over six times per game, and shot better than 72% from the line.  For all of the struggles that plagued the Celtics last season, an inability to get to the free throw line was near the top of that list.

As a team, Boston got to the free throw a line a little over 19 times per game last year.  That may seem like a lot, but it's not.  That mark was second worst in the NBA.  Only the Orlando Magic attempted fewer free throws per game.  As if that isn't bad enough, Boston's "best" player at getting to the line, Kyrie Irving, likely won't be back next year.  I say "best", because he got to the line just under four times per game, which was just enough for him to crack the top 50 in the league; he was in a 3-way tie for 49th.

It's no secret that the Celtics like to shoot threes.  Every team does, it's the nature of the game now.  However, we saw this team go ice cold on several occasions last year.  The best way to end those droughts, and prevent opponents from going on long scoring runs, is to attack the basket, get to the free throw line and get some easy points.

Paul Pierce was great at it.  He averaged over six free throws per game in his career.  In his brief tenure with the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas got to the line over seven times per game.  That's something that the Celtics as a team have struggled with the past couple of seasons.  Jay Bilas complimented Langford on his ability to find lanes, attack the basket, finish through contact, and get to the free throw line.  If he's able to carry that into the NBA, he could add a new dynamic to Boston's offense.

Round 1, Pick 22: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

I compare Williams to guys like Jared Sullinger and Glen Davis; and no, he's not fat.  His physique is actually quite the opposite.  He's solid, where as the other guys were pretty doughy.  No, I compare Williams to these guys because he's a bit undersized, but it still feels like he could come in right away and contribute.  With Aron Baynes reportedly being moved to the Phoenix Suns, that opportunity only gets bigger.

If you remember, both Sullinger and Davis - though out of the league now - had immediate impacts upon their arrival in Boston.  They were able to get some early playing time, and with their hustle and effort, particularly around the rim, were able to earn even more time.  From watching Williams at Tennessee, he has the potential to come in and do the same.

He spent three years at Tennessee and his numbers improved each year.  As a junior last year, he averaged over 18 points and seven rebounds per game, en route to being named a consensus All-American.  He's a bit undersized, but outworks others on the boards.  As a result of that effort, he's another guy who was able to get to the free throw line a bunch.

Williams got to the line seven times per game last year, and 260 times on the season.  That season total was good for 11th in the entire NCAA.  Size and traditional positions are becoming more and more irrelevant in today's NBA.  Positionless basketball is the new norm, and if you can play, somebody will find a spot for you.

If there are no major moves and shakeups to this roster, it feels like a perfect situation for Williams to come in and play right away.  If he displays that same effort and work ethic he showed at Tennessee, Stevens will certainly give him an opportunity.

Follow Derek on Twitter - @mcvay34

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Boston Celtics Address a Need With Their First Round Selections
Boston Celtics Address a Need With Their First Round Selections
Boston Sports Syndicate
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