Celtics 2016 Draft Prospects: Marquese Chriss
Marquese Chriss: Forward – Washington
6’10”, 233 lbs, 18 Years Old
13.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 53% FG
• Should be a better rebounder
• Poor defensive effort
• Soft shooting touch for a big man
Before we get into why Marquese Chriss is in the discussion for the third overall pick, I first want to explain to the casual basketball fans out there why you may not have heard of him until only recently. Marquese Chriss is a freshman coming out of the University of Washington – not a premier basketball school by any means. The odds are; unless you’re a basketball junky like myself who tortures themselves staying up well past midnight to watch unranked Pac-12 basketball, you never got the chance to see Washington and Chriss play. Finishing only 19-15, the Huskies and Chriss failed to make very much noise and did not reach the NCAA tournament. While the world watched Buddy Hield become a star, Chriss watched from the same place most of us did. Our couches.
Even out of High School, Chriss wasn’t a super highly touted talent. Chriss was rated the 49th overall prospect coming out of Pleasant Grove H.S., and was only ranked eighth at his position in his graduating class. The hype you’re hearing now simply was not there. Most scouts saw Chriss as an undersized big man who lacked the skill and shooting touch to play the 3 at a higher level, while also having the inability to rebound and defend against elite athletes like those he will soon face in the NBA. For the most part, it seemed like the scouts had him pegged.
Slowly but surely though, Chriss began to show flashes of his superstar potential as his draft stock rose steadily over the course of his freshman year. Even against elite Pac 12 competition, it became very apparent that Chriss was an absolute freak athlete – and one of the flashiest players in all of college basketball.
The Rise of Chriss
Even in the later weeks of March, it was unclear whether Marquese was going to declare for the NBA draft or not. When he finally did, he was looked at as a likely lottery pick who maybe had a chance of cracking the top 10. A lot of the same concerns followed Chriss from high school to college. He seemed to be an unfocused defender and rebounder, and he lacked elite size and length that teams look for at the top of the draft. But once NBA scouts got a chance to work him out, the jaws started to drop.
Expected to be listed at about 6’8.5”, Chriss shocked a lot of scouts when he was measured at a legit 6’10” in the combine. Out the window went the concerns about his size. Not only that, but Chriss posted a 38.5” maximum vertical leap, which is just preposterous for a guy with his size. For some perspective, Dragan Bender – another potential top 5 pick – posted only a 27.5” max vert, while Jamal Murray; the current front runner for the 3 pick, displayed a 39.5” max vert – just an inch higher than Chriss despite being a guard. Along with his astounding athleticism, Chriss has impressed scouts with his soft shooting touch, and otherworldly potential on both sides of the ball.
Chriss is a prime example of how workouts and upside can influence where you get selected in the draft. His current makeup is PERFECT for the combine, but questions remain on how his game is going to translate to the NBA level. While “tweener” was a bad word only a few seasons ago, Chriss is now seen as “versatile” on both offense and defense. While he didn’t display the focus you like to see from a top 5 draft pick over his freshman campaign, it is easily understandable why his upside has NBA scouts drooling over him. If he can harness his massive potential, Chriss could be one of the best players to come out of this draft.
If the Celtics were to draft Chriss at 3, it would surely indicate that the on-floor intensity concerns are not a worry to Mr. Ainge. Chriss would step on the floor and instantly be the best athlete the Celtics have – and it wouldn’t even be close. While I personally still like Murray or Brown for the 3 pick, I trust Ainge blindly and would be ecstatic to add an uber-athletic 4/5 to our lineup. I’d love to see what Stevens could mold him into.
WRITTEN BY: James Bloumbas (@fever_green)
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