The Boston Celtics will host their first draft workout tomorrow, but the players Danny Ainge scouts during the workout are not probable first-round picks.
“A lot of times the guys you are interested in don’t come in for a workout,” Ainge told the Boston Herald. “When you pick at 25, sometimes the guys you like think they are going higher.”
The Celtics will likely scout tomorrow’s crop of big men with their second draft choice (the 55th pick) in mind. I have already looked at most of the players, but the Celtics have added a few names to the workout.
Frank Hassell, Old Dominion (6’9, 255 lbs.)
2011 Stats: 15.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg
A self-proclaimed late bloomer, Hassell began the 2011 season as an Honorable Mention pre-season All-Colonial Athletic Association selection, thousands of miles from NBA scouts’ consciousness. But after turning himself into a First Team All-CAA selection and the 34th-best rebounder in the country this past season, Hassell played himself into the draft conversation. He still doesn’t have the type of athleticism to warrant serious NBA hype (at least from what I can see in highlight tapes), nor does he have any evaluations in his Draft Express profile (normally a red flag for prospective NBA players). But he’s a wide body with NBA strength; if he doesn’t catch on in the NBA, I would imagine he has a nice basketball future elsewhere.
P.S. – His nickname’s Frank the Tank. So if you see him streaking through the quad to the gymnasium, you’ll know why.
Lavoy Allen, Temple (6’9, 225 lbs.)
2011 Stats: 11.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg
A solid contributor throughout his four-year college career, Lavoy Allen surprisingly failed to improve during his senior campaign. If anything, he regressed, a slight slide Draft Express blamed on coasting.
“While there is no doubt that Allen is a talented player, effort and consistency have been significant issues that have plagued him throughout his career and continued to limit his potential as a senior,” Draft Express wrote in March, continuing, “Simply put, when Allen puts his mind to it, he can be an excellent rebounder with the fundamentals and energy to suggest that his abilities will translate to the next level. This is the case with much of Allen’s game. When he plays aggressively, his combination of size, mobility, basketball IQ, and fundamentals allow him to contribute at a very high level. He must show scouts that he can consistently be the player who finished the season averaging a double-double.”
Despite average to average strength and athleticism, Allen flashes a varied and well-rounded skill set. He can hit a mid-range jumper, rebound among the trees, and pass with both precision and creativity. But to find an NBA role, Allen will likely need to make two improvements to his game: 1) learn to consistently make jump shots, and 2) bring an energy to the game he didn’t always bring while at Temple. If he can do both those things, Allen has a chance to overcome his average athletic traits and find a place in the NBA.
Projected Pick: Undrafted
Keith Benson, Oakland University (6’11, 220 lbs.)
2011 Stats: 17.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.6 blocks
I was introduced to Keith Benson while watching the 2011 NBA Draft Combine. To judge a prospect’s vertical leap, evaluators set up a contraption. The very top of this contraption stood twelve feet in the air, so when a prospect jumped as high as he could, the evaluators could measure the height of each player’s vertical leap. Except for Keith Benson—he jumps too high and his arms are too long. On his first attempt, Benson reached higher than the twelve foot limit. After that, evaluators moved the contraption on top of a chair. Finally, Benson could measure his vertical leap.
Obviously, Benson’s athleticism makes NBA scouts write the word “upside” into their notebooks. But he’s not a sure thing, not by any means. Even while producing fine numbers during his final two seasons at Oakland, Benson showed holes in his game which will be exposed in the NBA if not fixed. Firstly, he’s too skinny. If a tumbleweed leaned on Benson, he might fall over. Secondly, he will need to become tougher.
“More of a finesse player who makes an impact with great timing and touch, Benson is not quite the banger or high energy hustle player that he will be pitted against and asked to be at the next level,” wrote Draft Express. “He rebounds the ball at a solid rate thanks to his exceptional length and solid athleticism, but isn’t one to aggressively track the ball in traffic or go outside of his area to recover a miss.”
If you want an NBA comparison for Benson, think Chris Johnson (who played for the Celtics briefly this past season). He’s athletic but raw, and built like a piece of seaweed. Like Johnson did in Portland at the tail end of last season, Benson can find a home in the NBA. But he will need to realize his limitations and become more willing to get his hands dirty.
Projected Draft Pick: Early- to mid-second round