It is a rare thing for a playoff team to have as many needs as the Boston Celtics have going into the 2013 NBA draft. Seriously, what don’t they need?
Post scoring, shot blocking, play making and their old Achilles heel rebounding are all concerns for the veteran team. They won’t be able to fill all of their needs through the draft, but with the 16th pick Boston should select Center Gorgui Dieng from Louisville and here is why.
Boston needs a player committed to rebounding
The Celtics and their inability to rebound on either side of the ball have cost the team the chance to capture multiple championships in the Kevin Garnett era. Who could forget the 23 offensive rebounds Boston allowed to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Dieng has shown the propensity to rebound consistently in college with a career average of 7.9 boards in 27.4 minutes. He has a nose for the ball and doesn’t just rely on his height to grab rebounds. He actually boxes out which is something that would endear him to Doc Rivers and the rest of team.
The Celtics are a defensive minded team
Dieng is a legitimate shot blocker that can protect the interior for the Celtics who have finished in the bottom third in blocks in two of the last three seasons. Shot blocking is something that usually translates well from the college game to the NBA game. With a wingspan of nearly 7’6 according to draftexpress.com, Dieng would be a perfect fit as a lane clogger for Boston.
Dieng also has good footwork which will allow him to show effectively on opponents who try to involve him in pick and roll. Teams like to get the ball-hawking Avery Bradley off of their lead guards by setting screens on him. Dieng’s ability to hedge and freeze the ball handler can allow Bradley (or other Boston guards) enough time to get back to their defensive assignments. Even if the guard should pass to Dieng’s man, he has the footwork and length to recover and still affect shots at the rim.
Dieng has offensive capability
He isn’t the second coming of Robert Parish but Dieng isn’t an offensive liability either. At 6’11 he has a respectable face up game and jumper from 12-15 feet. The form on his jumper isn’t all that fluid with just an average release point but it does fall. He also has the ability to put the ball on the floor with one or two dribbles and get to the rim which is something that Boston “bigs” should do more often. Any more than two dribbles and it could spell disaster but Dieng seems to be aware of his limitations.
Since Dieng isn’t a strict back to the basket type of player he stays active on the offensive end by running to open spots at the free throw line and near the rim. He wouldn’t have the same opportunities in the NBA where fewer zones are played, but his activity can be utilized to screen defenders and get guards (like Bradley) open on cuts to the basket.
One of the more underrated parts of his game is his ability to pass. He is a willing facilitator from both the post and wing areas. It’s not hard to envision Dieng involved in dribble hand-offs (like Garnett often is) to the Celtics core of guards or to see him finding the open man on the wing or streaking to the basket.
Dieng’s intangibles fit as a potential player for the Celtics
At 23 years old, Dieng would come in as a mature rookie that could readily fit in with the veterans on the team. By all accounts he is a high character guy that takes the game seriously. Doc could then focus on teaching Dieng the game and not worry as much about him off the court.
Dieng has shown a strong motor and doesn’t sulk if he isn’t getting touches offensively. He impacts the game in other ways and that should buy him time in just about any system. He has soft hands for a big man that would be helpful in catching some of Rajon Rondo’s angle defying passes in close quarters.
The negatives on Dieng are all things he can develop. He needs to put on a few more pounds and build his strength. He also needs to become a better finisher on the move in addition to refining his post game.
Still there are more things to like than not to about Dieng. He isn’t nearly the project that Fab Melo is and will come in more NBA ready than most big men in the draft. Pairing him with Garnett would give Boston two defensive minded players that could protect the paint. He could also work great spelling Garnett or paired with Jared Sullinger.
The possibilities are endless and should not be ignored. So on June 27th when Commissioner Stern says “With the 16th pick in the 2013 NBA draft the Boston Celtics select…” it would be wise to have the name of the guy who wore red his entire collegiate career fitted for a brand new green hat.