Danny Ainge and the Celtics wasted no time addressing their team’s needs up front. With the possibility of Kevin Garnett becoming a free agent, as well as Brandon Bass’ decision to opt out of his player option, Boston needed to add some height to its roster.
The Celtics had back-to-back picks at 21 and 22, and they selected Jared Sullinger out of Ohio State and Fab Melo of Syracuse.
Sullinger (6′, 9″) averaged 17 points in each of his two seasons as a Buckeye, with just about 10 rebounds per game for his freshman and sophomore years. A back injury last year kept him out of the lineup at times, and Ohio State was a completely different team with him on the court than without.
Sullinger, who was projected as a top five pick if he was in last year’s draft, dropped on the board because of the concern surrounding his health problems. However, Boston decided to take the risk and hope for a high reward.
According to WEEI.com:
“When the day started, I did not think he would be there at 21. We’re fortunate to get him,” Ainge said. “We were concerned and we did our research on the back issues and felt comfortable, but there are some issues there. Our medical staff thinks that short term and long term there may be some maintenance issues with the back. Doc Rivers played with a herniated disk for 13 years. So it may need surgery at some point, it may not.”
Doc Rivers, who played the role of coach and father on draft night, was very pleased with his team’s picks, especially that of Sullinger.
According to Boston.com:
“The fact that he kept falling to us gives us a rebounder, high IQ players, great passer, and a very good shooter from the outside, gives us some physical force. Fab Melo does the same thing. He has size.”
Melo’s height is his best attribute. The 7-footer played two years with the Orange, but he was suspended for academic reasons and missed the end of the regular season and all of the post-season.
According to Boston.com:
“I don’t know what you can project,” Rivers said of Melo. “Obviously, he has size. We have to team him the Celtic way, we have to teach him how to work, and understanding how to play as a winner. I love size and potential and he has both of those things. For us to get a 7-footer at that pick is a good pick for us.”
If there is any coach that can push Melo in the right direction, it is Rivers. Melo has a similar reputation to that of Rajon Rondo, but the Celtics coach turned his point guard into a champion and one of the best players in the league.
Boston also selected Kris Joseph (6′, 6″) in the second round.
Now that the draft is over, the Celtics must focus on the next step of their off season. They have plenty of decisions to make regarding their own free agents, as well as other guys around the league who could be beneficial to bring Banner 18 back to Boston.