The fourth in a series of profiles of players that might be of interest to the Boston Celtics during the 2012 NBA Draft (June 28, ESPN, 7 p.m.):
Projection: First Round (Insider rank: 19th overall; Position rank: 3rd)
In the News: From Lenn Robbins of The New York Post: "Barto, who raved about Iman Shumpert to anyone who would listen, said he sees a lot of Kevin Durant in Harkless, both in his game and disposition. That bearing has served Harkless well...At IMG (a training center in Florida) the players work full days Monday to Friday and a half-day Saturday. Saturday afternoons and Sundays are optional shooting days. For Harkless it wasn't an option -- it was a mandate. "He went 15 straight days without a day off," said Harkless' mentor, Nate Blue. "I was speaking to him on the phone a few days before his birthday, and you could hear it in his voice. I said, 'Come home, see your family, it's one weekend.' He said, 'It's one less to get ready.' I told him, 'You'll be ready.'"
Why the Celtics Want Him: The Celtics would most likely be stashing Harkless for future seasons if they take a chance on him, but with considerable size and all of the raw physical abilities a team would want in a prospect, it might be worth taking a shot on the St. John's freshman at this point in the draft. Standing somewhere between 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9, Harkless is brimming with potential, and if the Celtics drafted him, they'd be doing so with the hope that he'd be able to channel his overall talent into a more refined game that could lead to a very productive NBA career.
Why the Celtics Don't Want Him: Paul Pierce has spoiled the Celtics for more than a decade, as productivity at the small forward position isn't nearly as easy to come by as Pierce makes it seem. Almost every contending team has needed a perimeter player (usually a shooting guard or small forward) who can create his own offense, and as the C's begin a search for Pierce's eventual replacement (although you can't ever actually replace Pierce), they might want to look past Harkless. Despite his impressive physical gifts, Harkless is an inconsistent shot maker and a below average free throw shooter. His shooting motion needs work, and, more importantly, consistency. The Celtics might want to pursue an already established free agent or wait for another prospect when they're ready to sure up the small forward spot for the future.