The NBA Draft convenes tonight at 7 PM as 30 professional basketball franchises make 60 selections with the hope of replenishing their roster with superstars and key additions.
Boston College's Olivier Hanlan looks to be one of those 60 names called, departing The Heights following his junior season in 2014-2015. As teams look to position their futures and wheel and deal their way through the next several hours, we'll be waiting with baited breath to see where the Eagles guard goes to start his professional career.
Hanlan is considered among experts as a fringe first round selection, likely falling into the second round. Yahoo Rivals' Eric Hoffses detailed yesterday his views that Hanlan is a depth player and although he isn't a first round selection, he will likely help a team looking for guard depth and a reliable option off the bench. Noted basketball draft expert Chad Ford of ESPN has Hanlan as one of his "next five in," also on the fringe of the top 30 (subscription required).
A 6'4" shooting guard in the draft, Hanlan is one of the older players after having completed his junior year at 22 years old. He is considered an excellent scorer with good shooting range, capable of putting the ball on the floor and penetrating defenses to draw fouls. But he lacks athleticism to be an oversized point guard, even though he was the floor general for the Eagles, and he lacks the size to be both a strong shooting guard or a small forward at the next level. Therefore, teams will be intrigued by his skill set but most likely to avoid him when picks are at a premium.
Based off his floor capabilities, Hanlan does project to the first round, but he is nowhere near the top picks who are entrusted with turning around the fortunes of a lottery team. Given that draft picks are at a premium for playoff teams later in the round, he is likely to only go to a team with a plethora of choices. Since he doesn't really have a projectable position, they can work with him to find out where he belongs without sacrificing their future.
That places attention directly on a team like the Philadelphia 76ers. Even though both Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid are noted injury cases, Philly should finally have them together on the floor this year and finally start reaping the benefits of their Tankapalooza the last few seasons. Assuming they take Emmanuel Mudiay with the third pick, they'll need to draft someone older and capable of being a reliable backup for their star point guard. Enter Hanlan, who would play the shooting guard/small forward position and be capable to spell Mudiay on the point. Should Olivier not pan out in the NBA, Philadelphia can likely have a backup option to that in the same draft class since they have six picks, five of which are in the second round. They can afford to take someone like Olivier and swing and miss if necessary.
Charlotte is another team that could be interested in Hanlan if he drops to them with the 39th pick. The Hornets need guard depth badly after finishing with the 28th-ranked offense. But Charlotte only has two picks and will need to find a replacement at some point for Lance Stephenson, who they traded this month to the Los Angeles Clippers. It's likely they could avoid drafting a guard and instead look for raw size early in the second round.
San Antonio almost always can use a guy who can do a couple of things really well in their system, but they would have to reach for Hanlan with the 26th pick in the first round. Their second pick sits back at 55, and there is no way the Canadian shooter falls to them there. With both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green heading for free agency, though, he could be an interesting case study for one of the greatest coaches in NBA history.
As for Toronto, the native Canadian would be a great fit for a team looking for a decent small forward wing-type player. But the Raptors are loaded at shooting guard with DeMar DeRozan, Louis Williams, and Terrence Ross, so Hanlan would find it tough to make the team unless he could backup Kyle Lowry at point guard - a position which he is ill-suited for at the next level. Given their holes, Toronto can't waste their one pick (20th overall), so we can probably safely rule Hanlan out there.
Back to our original thought process, though. If we're looking for a team capable of using one of their several draft picks, then we should probably consider the hometown team in Boston. The Celtics have multiple draft picks and need a true shooting threat to go with Isiah Thomas and their front court. They could easily go after a big man in the first round and still have picks left over to go after a wing-type shooter like Olivier. That said, Danny Ainge is actively trying to move draft picks to move up and take someone who is an elite pick. At 16th overall, Boston is juuuuust far enough outside to miss out on someone who could be their missing link. They're going to try like hell to move into the top 13 to get that elite guy since they're really only one piece away from being a contender.
If Boston manages to keep one of their second rounders, they would have either the 33rd or 45th pick. I could see Hanlan dropping to Boston at 33 and can picture him in Celtic green. Does Trader Danny feel the same way?
Stay tuned to the draft tonight as we watch for where Olivier Hanlan, an interesting pick on the board, will land.