The Celtics went into the 2014/2015 season with a hole at the wing position that has been a problem since the departure of future Hall-of-Famer Paul Pierce. They hoped that Jeff Green would fill that hole, but he's not consistent enough to be a starting small forward in the NBA, at least not one that can help you become a 50-win team. Boston also picked up Evan Turner, but instead of playing the small forward position, he morphed into a point forward, and a good one at that. James Young, drafted in the first round last year, just isn't ready to take on the role. One player that could be available in the 2015 NBA Draft is Sam Dekker of Wisconsin, a 6'9, 230 pound wing that looks like he is NBA-ready.
Dekker, who attended Sheboygan Lutheran High School in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was the Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012, and he totaled 2,629 points in his career. Dekker was the fourth leading scorer in the history of Wisconsin and was named Mr. Basketball his senior year. Dekker averaged 35.2 points per game and led his team to the state title, pouring in 40 points and showing the same big-game ability that he showed in this year's tournament. After his high school career ended, Dekker was selected to the USA Basketball Under-18 National Team and they went on to win the gold medal.
Wisconsin threw Dekker into the mix right away as a freshman, averaging 22.3 minutes per game in 35 games. Dekker averaged 9.6 points per game, shooting 48% from the field (39% from three point land), 3.4 total rebounds, and he shot 69% from the free throw line. His sophomore year saw a huge jump in minutes and production; 29.8 minutes per game, 12.4 points per game, 47% shooting from the field (33% from three point land), 6.1 total rebounds per game, and 68% from the free throw line. His numbers increased right in line with the minute increase, but the one issue is his three point shooting, which dropped from a respectable 39% to 33%, a drop off that can be explained by more shots, but it still needs to be addressed.
Dekker played in 40 games his junior year, averaging 31 minutes per game, 13.9 points, 53% shooting from the field (33% from three point land), 5.5 rebounds per game, and 71% from the free throw line. His overall shooting was well improved, but he remained the same from three. Dekker was explosive in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, averaging 34 minutes, 19 points, 5.5 rebounds, and he shot 15 of 36 from three (42%) which was a big jump from the regular season. In order to reach his potential in the NBA, he'll have to improve his three-point field goal percentage.
Dekker would bring a skill set to Boston that they don't currently possess. Dekker has great athleticism and he is special when he gets in the open floor, a skill he wasn't able to take full advantage of in his time at Wisconsin. The Badgers play more of a half court game, but Dekker adjusted because he has size to go along with his athletic ability, not to mention patience. Dekker has the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive left or right, using his slashing ability to get to the basket. With the change in the way the NBA game is played, Dekker is a perfect size to be able to do multiple things on the floor. He's quick enough to go by power forwards, a position he'll play in small lineups, and he's bigger than most small forwards, so he'll either post them up or shoot over them.
Dekker also has one great quality that will endear him to NBA coaches- he doesn't turn the ball over. According to DraftExpress.com, Dekker had the lowest turnover ratio of anyone in the country, and he has the fifth lowest turnover percentage of any NCAA player since 2002. With his big-game ability, strong size and athleticism, and the versatility to play multiple positions, Dekker looks like a player that will have a strong NBA career, even if he isn't a starter. If he develops his three and continues to do what he does, he has a chance to be a solid starter on a very good team. Dekker is absolutely on the Celtics radar and fans may want to get to know him.