Five draft prospects to watch: East Region

It’s the greatest sports week of the year!

Much of the United States is going to drop everything at noon on Thursday and we won’t hear much from anybody – outside of maybe a few tweets – until Monday morning when the country starts back up again. That’s right, it’s tournament time!

While watching this year’s tournament, don’t forget to keep the Celtics in mind because a number of these players could be rocking green and white in the summer league when July rolls around. Beantown Baskets will give you five players in each region to watch out for as a Celtic fan. We started with the Midwest Region yesterday, but now it’s time to take a look at the East Region.

Name: Jonathan Motley
School: Baylor
Position: Power Forward
Year: Junior
2016-17 Stats: 17.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.4 APG
Draft Projection: Mid to late first

Scouting Report: The odds that Boston winds up with Motley are actually pretty low because Motley isn’t going to be taken with the Nets pick but he’ll easily be gone before the Celtics are on the board in round two, but I felt the need to toss him on here just to show that there is some first round talent worth watching out of the East Region this year. Motley is a must watch player when he is on and the guy can tear off a huge game at any given moment. He had a 32 point, 20 rebound, three block game against Texas earlier this year and then followed it up with a 17 point, 17 rebound game on the road against Texas. His thrashings of team went well beyond the Longhorns though. The 6’10” forward averaged 16.3 PPG against top 25 opponents, including two double-doubles against Midwest Region top seed Kansas. If Ainge does wind up moving the Nets pick before or on draft night, trading back into the first round to pick up a guy like Motley wouldn’t be a bad idea. He can come in and be a solid big man for the Celtics, who might need to rebuild in that area this summer with Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller all set to hit free agency and Kelly Olynyk set to be a restricted free agent.

Name: Harry Giles
School: Duke
Position: Power Forward
Year: Freshman
2016-17 Stats: 4.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.6 BPG
Draft Projection: Late first

Scouting Report: Early mock drafts last summer had Harry Giles as a top five pick, but that ship has sailed and nobody really knows where he will wind up. Injuries have derailed what was expected to be a strong freshman season and he’s averaged just 11.9 MPG over 24 appearances for the Blue Devils. Giles is coming off a solid string of games off the bench in the ACC tournament, highlighted by a six point, seven rebound, four block outing over just 15 minutes in their semifinal victory over rival North Carolina. All the talent in the world is here but the big question mark on Giles coming into college was his ability to stay healthy and clearly that didn’t happen. Taking him would your classic “high risk, high reward” type pick and honestly the Celtics are a team that can afford to take a risk outside of the Nets pick in this draft because they have such a deep roster. Giles might never really be in play for the Celtics, but it would be interesting to see if Ainge pulls the trigger on this one should something happen between now and the draft that causes him to slip even further. Another option could be the Nets pick next year. There is a real chance that Giles doesn’t come out after this year beacuse his stock has fallen and if he has a perfectly healthy year as a sophomore, you could easily see this guy slotted as a top five pick once again.

Name: Josh Hart
School: Villanova
Position: Shooting Guard
Year: Senior
2016-17 Stats: 18.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.1 APG
Draft Projection: Early to mid second

Scouting Report: Josh Hart is a big name player that every college basketball fan knows, but he only projects as a role player at the next level with many scout comparing him to Wes Matthews and Marcus Thornton. Although it doesn’t sound too thrilling when you draft a guy who has a ceiling of a role player, one upside to drafting Hart will be the fact that you’re getting a guy who is a very safe bet and probably already NBA ready. A good compassion would be to Milwaukee Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon, who has been one of the league’s better rookies this year after getting drafted 36th overall last June. Brogdon – also a shooting guard – had a very accomplished four year college career in which he was named First Team All-ACC three times, won ACC Defensive Player of the Year twice while also winning both ACC Player of the Year and National Defensive Player of the Year as a senior; he also averaged 18.4 PPG as a senior with is very close to what Hart is doing right now. It’s fair to expect Brogdon to grow a little bit more as he adjusts to the NBA, but he doesn’t seem too far away from his ceiling while averaging 9.9 PPG and 4.0 APG with the Bucks. Hart also bring the ability to be an impact player right away, although what you get as a rookie is what you could be looking at for his whole career.

Name: Grayson Allen
School: Duke
Position: Shooting Guard
Year: Junior
2016-17 Stats: 14.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.5 APG
Draft Projection: Mid second

Scouting Report: The Celtics are one team that could easily be willing to put up will any potential attitude issues that Allen has and there is no way he’ll simply be scratch from Danny Ainge’s draft board because of his on-court actions. Boston drafted Marcus Smart sixth overall a few years back after he received a three game suspension at Oklahoma State for going into the stands to shove a fan who called him “a piece of crap.” The team still puts up with his constant flopping while also having to bench him for a playoff game his rookie year after he slept in and missed the shoot around, so burning a second round pick on Allen probably wouldn’t be a big deal for Ainge. Allen is a scorer at all times but he has proven to be a guy who shine in big moments as well. He dropped back-to-back 18 point performances against Louisville and North Carolina in the ACC quarter and semifinals this year while also scoring ten points as the Blue Devils beat Notre Dame to win the conference title. He averaged just 4.4 PPG as a freshman during the 2014-15 campaign and played under ten minutes per game, but Allen dropped 16 points in the National Championship as Duke narrowly edged Wisconsin and won by five.

Name: Nigel Hayes
School: Wisconsin
Position: Power Forward
Year: Senior
2016-17 Stats: 13.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.8 APG
Draft Projection: Late second

Scouting Report: This could be a very interesting name for one of the late second round picks that the Celtics currently own. Drafting Hayes would be a lot like when Boston took Ben Bentil late in the second round last June. There’s a chance he might not wind up making the roster, but he’s shown enough in college that he’d be worth the look in training camp and you could give him the window to compete against a guy like Jordan Mickey for the final roster spot. He’s a bit undersized at 6’7″ and that is a concern with drafting him but the Ohio native made an All-Big Ten team in each of his four years of college, including a First Team All-Big Team selection as a junior last year. It will be tough for him to make the roster wherever he goes, so fans of his should honestly hope it’s to a bad team with a lot of holes because anybody who the Celtics take with their final pick of the night will either be cut after training camp like Bentil was or stashed away like Abdel Nader.

 

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