(Forgive the highlight — it’s from a year ago. Serphin has bulked up significantly since.)
As part of our draft coverage, we are profiling wings and big men the Celtics might be interested in with the 19th pick. Next up is Kevin Seraphin, a center from France. We made these profiles using our own personal knowledge of the prospects combined with research from numerous sites, including NBADraft.net and Draft Express.
Draft Express projection: 22nd pick NBADraft.net: 32nd pick
I’m officially on the “Draft Kevin Seraphin” train. Where else are the Celtics going to find a 6’10″, 270-pound wrecking ball of strength and athleticism, at the 19th pick? Let me tell you, nowhere.
There are a lot of intriguing big men prospects projected to be drafted in the later part of the first round — Solomon Alabi, Larry Sanders, Hassan Whiteside and Daniel Orton among them. But none of them are as physically ready (read: strong and athletic) as the French Beast, Seraphin.
You’ve probably never heard of the French Beast, so let me give you a little background. He’s from France (obviously), plays in France’s top league, and had a little bit of a disappointing season this past year (only 6.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 20.5 minutes during EuroCup play, although he was starting for France’s top team). He’s 20 years old, had a huge showing at the Nike Hoops Summit (where a team of top European youngsters plays a team of top American high schoolers), and looks like a freakish combination of Amare Stoudemire and Nene. He is big, strong, and has rise. He pounds the offensive glass, hammers home finishes, and runs the floor too. With the body of a Greek god, the wingspan of an even larger man than himself and only five years of basketball experience under his belt, Seraphin oozes potential, absolutely oozes potential. According to Draft Express, he also has good hands, good touch around the basket and “is known as a smart and humble player.”
And the best part? He actually knows what he’s doing defensively. Listen to Draft Express: “He shows a much greater comfort level on the defensive end, where he’s a terrific presence inside the paint with his superb combination of length, strength and athleticism. He displays nice timing when rotating from the weak side and is especially effective at hedging pick-and-rolls, while still having the mobility to recover back onto his man thanks to his nimble feet and nice lateral quickness. He’s difficult to post up due to his wide frame, and he puts in a good effort on top of that. This puts him in a pretty rare class of prospects when considering his physical tools.”
Now, that’s not to say he has no faults. Seraphin is hardly a go-to player in the post. He lacks the footwork to be a reliable back-to-the-basket scorer. Draft Express notes that his focus sometimes drifts (I remind you, he’s only 20 years old). Even though he’s in the draft this year, he might not leave for the NBA next season. According to SI’s Ian Thomsen, Seraphin has had injury problems in the past (although it might just be a recent injury that only kept him out of play for a couple weeks and didn’t affect his draft status.) Seraphin also isn’t as great a defensive rebounder as he is on the offensive glass.
But I pose the question again: Where else are the Celtics going to find a 6’10″, 270-pound wrecking ball of strength and athleticism, at the 19th pick? I don’t care that he’s raw offensively — so are all the other centers the Celtics could draft. I don’t care this his focus drifts sometimes — he’s young, that’s what young players do. I don’t even care that he might not play in the NBA next season — none of the other centers the C’s could draft at #19 would help next year, either. (Okay, I admit it. I’d like Seraphin to play in Boston next season if the C’s draft him — they need frontcourt help right away, and he’s the only player in the draft I see helping them.)
The French Beast is the next Nene, with a higher ceiling. If you want the Celtics to pass that up, with a pick as low as 19th, be my guest. But you’ll regret it when this kid turns into a monster. And for next season? He’s the C’s best bet to replace the almost-definitely-retiring Rasheed Wallace in the draft.
I suggest the Celts pick Seraphin, make sure he comes to the States, and then let him contribute right away as he blossoms into a legitimate piece for the future.