The Boston Celtics addressed two of their most prominent needs in the draft last night despite picking later in the first round. With back-to-back picks from 21 to 22, the Celtics landed two forwards: Jared Sullinger from Ohio State and Fab Melo from Syracuse.
Sullinger may be the most polarizing pick from the whole draft as he was a potential first overall pick if he had come out in 2011, but fell in 2012 due to medical red flags.
Bulging disks in his back raised question marks over Sullinger's longevity and even his ability to be effective on the court from the power forward position. At best, Sullinger could be one of the best shooting big men in the NBA. At worst, he may never play a game.
The drafting of Sullinger gives the Celtics two young power forwards on the roster, as well as two other likely targets. Relatively high hopes surround last year's first round pick, Jajuan Johnson, who is expected to get more playing time this year for the Boston based franchise. Johnson is more physically gifted than Sullinger in that he will be able to elevate above the rim and attack the basket.
With Sullinger on the floor, the Celtics will want to use him in the low post where his ability to step back and shoot should give him open looks. Of course, that ability is completely reliant on his back issues becoming non-issues.
Sullinger was definitely a risk-reward option who will be looked to as a half-court offensive option and reliable defender. He is not too dissimilar from Brandon Bass, who is one of the players the Celtics will likely look to re-sign this off-season.
Bass had a very good season for the Celtics last year before opting out of his contract this off-season.
With Bass and Jeff Green both free agents, the Celtics have two of their former power forwards hitting the open market. Green, despite missing all of last season because of heart surgery, is likely still a very important piece for the Celtics. Re-signing him should still be a priority regardless of the outlook of Sullinger.
Drafting Fab Melo gives the Celtics an inverse of Sullinger. Melo is a talented defender who will guarantee you effort and effect at that end of the court, however his potential isn't cracking the horizon. Melo will likely be the next Kendrick Perkins for the Celtics as he could quickly become a starter and anchor for their defense in half-court sets.
Melo's size makes him a good fit in Boston as Greg Stiemsma, although being a good role player, didn't provide that presence in the paint last year. Offensively the Celtics will hide some of his flaws as his effort will be rewarded playing with Rajon Rondo.
Rondo thrives with big men who hang around the basket and chase down scraps. Melo may not be an offensive machine, but he is still a professional basketballer. Tip-ins, open dunks and easy lay-ups are not going to be missed at the rim.
While the roster still has some significant question marks over the youth and potential at the small forward position, after Royce White was selected before the Celtics were on the clock, the roster has greater balance to it with more depth in the backcourt.
Danny Ainge didn't have the greatest avenues to explore open to him, but he did at the very least lay out a clear plan for the team moving forward.
Cian Fahey writes for the Guardian, Irishcentral, Steelersdepot and FFBLife. You can find him on twitter @Cianaf