The Boston Celtics are looking for a big man in Thursday night’s draft and that big man could be local product Noah Vonleh. The Haverhill native only spent one year at Indiana, but his upside is what has NBA teams drooling. One of those teams is the Celtics who are “very high” on Vonleh, which makes the 6-foot-10 big man optimistic about the draft. Vonleh talked about his prospects on Wednesday.
As the Celtics are preparing to choose a player with the sixth pick in the draft, there have been a handful of players linked as a possible selection. Vonleh has been a player constantly mentioned as one of that handful of players because of his size, ability, and familiarity with the area. But the Celtics are not the only team drawing interest in the talented forward. The Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers are also teams interested and that interest is what has made Vonleh confident and optimistic about his chances in the NBA.
While Vonleh’s talent is admirable, he felt Indiana’s struggles towards the end of last season would hurt his value in the draft. The Hoosiers lost 15 of their final 27 games, which made Vonleh wonder if it would have an impact on how teams viewed him. He said on Wednesday, “I thought about it a little bit. I thought (NBA teams) were going to question me and say ‘He’s not a winner’ and this and that. But it doesn’t look like it’s affecting me too much.”
If the Celtics keep their sixth pick, Vonleh is a player that has intrigued them. But there have been other players that the team feels could help them as well. Those players include other big men such as Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon. The team may also be presented with a big decision on whether to draft Noel Embiid if he happens to slip down in the draft.
Selecting Vonleh will depend on a few things. If the Celtics don’t obtain All-Star power forward Kevin Love in a trade and if Embiid does not slip down in the draft, the Celtics will have to take a good look a Vonleh if he is still on the board. Whatever the team decides, it will be about patience. Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said after a pre-draft workout on Saturday that winning is a priority.
“We want to win. We want to be good,” Ainge said. “I think it depends. It’s hard to – the decision comes when you’re cashing in future assets, if it’s the time to push all your chips to the middle of the table or if it’s to be as good as you can without sacrificing the future. Those are case-by-case decisions, and it depends how good we can get now.”