Nassir Little and the Celtics

Nassir Little – 18.2 minutes –  9.8 points – 4.6 rebounds – 0.7 assists – 47.8 FG% – 26.9 3PT% – 2.8 FTA – 77 FT% – 0.5 steals – 0.5 blocks

Born: February 11, 2000
Position: Forward
Class: Freshman
Height: 6′ 7″
Wingspan: 7′ 2″
Weight: 220 lbs

Prior to playing even a second for North Carolina 6’7 forward Nassir Little was projected as a no-brainer lottery pick. His strong body and long arms make him the prototypical 3-and-D wing for the modern NBA. Scouts knew beforehand how challenged Little is shooting the ball. His calling card on offense is his ability to translate his frame to become nearly unstoppable in transition. Ranking in the 71st percentile scoring 1.143 points per possession. Little and can use his body to compensate for his lack of shooting up until a certain point. Which is why he’s played below 20-minutes for Roy Williams.

Little needs work developing his BBIQ. Sometimes Williams would challenge Little to defend a decision he made and he couldn’t. You can make the case the college game was too advanced for Little. Except that doesn’t dissuade anxieties of him fitting into an even more complex professional league. Being physically gifted Little didn’t need to cram about opposing players or the coaches schemes. If he wanted the ball from you he’d just take it.

During the 2015 NBA Finals the shorthanded Cavaliers lead the favored Warriors 2 games to 1. ESPN contributed Amin Elhassen recalled when he saw a meme simply saying “Effort > Efficiency.” As if efficiency is lackadaisical and doesn’t command any labor to maintain it. Little’s efficiency in high school was his effort.

Little’s woes on offense are hard to paint as the fault of the talent around him. Point guard Coby White is projected to be taken inside the top-10 and by all accounts flourished as a scoring and facilitator.

Despite rumored disagreements between Little and Williams the five-star recruit never earned the label as “uncoachable.” He’s a hard worker and asks questions. As Williams put it “That’s going to be his saving grace,”

Little is a mixed bag. All of the physical tools for a long and fruitful NBA career. A master of none, adequate in only one facet of his game. He can do a pretty slick Jeff Green impression and disappear on any given night and on the next make you think he’s forcing the issue too much.

Maybe Little made a mistake picking North Carolina. Duke was also on his shortlist of possible collegiate destinations. Just look at how we’ve spent the last year fawning over Zion Williamson even though it’s still a question mark whether he can shoot the ball. Possibly, that could have been Little. We’ll never know now.

If the Celtics draft Little it’ll take a long term commitment to develop him into someone who better fits the role of a 3-and-D. They’ve taken taller tasks in terms of turning non-shooters into above-average ones before.

Little is eager to turn the page on his poor college career and is a hard worker. It’s hard for me to imagine him seeing the floor even in garbage time in his current state.