In an offseason highlighted by the return of head coach Doc Rivers, the re-signings of captain Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, as well as the signings of veterans Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal, it's easy to overlook a young rookie like Luke Harangody on the Celtics' roster.
Yet five years down the road, Harangody may have a much bigger impact on this team than most think.
Harangody, a 22-year-old drafted by the Celtics with the 52nd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, played four seasons at Notre Dame and was widely considered one of the best big men in college basketball.
During his career with the Irish, Harangody put up impressive numbers, averaging 19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and a career field goal percentage of 47.5%.
Harangody originally entered his name in the 2009 NBA Draft, but withdrew to attend Notre Dame for his senior season.
Upon his return, Harangody was voted to the preseason All-American team. He led the team in scoring and rebounding in 2009-10 with 21.8 points and 9.1 boards per game. In addition, Harangody scored in double digits 28 times in 30 games. His best game came in Notre Dame's 83-65 win over Cincinnati, totaling 37 points and 14 rebounds.
When all was said and done, Harangody was selected as a Third Team All-American as a senior and finished his career third all-time in scoring in the Big East with 1,329 points and second all-time with 662 rebounds.
As far as analysis on Harangody, the reviews are split. Most see Harangody as a very passionate and hard-working player who is slightly undersized to be an effective forward in the NBA.
DraftExpress.com sees Harangody as a talented big man, but lacking athleticism and size.
Though Harangody has made some changes to his game, his biggest weakness from an NBA perspective remains his lack of athleticism. The hard working forward certainly took the draft process seriously last summer, shedding some weight and improving his mobility to a degree in the process, but the strides he made still leave him severely lacking compared to the average NBA power forward. Extremely strong, but very undersized at just 6-6 without shoes, and without a great wingspan (6-10) to compensate for that, Harangody may not have the type of physical tools that would allow him to translate his production to a much smaller role at the next level. While that certainly limits his NBA upside, it may not exclude him from having the opportunity to make an impact as a role player.
NBA.com lists Harangody as a solid shooter and a force in the post.
Strengths: Very strong and scrappy forward with a bruising post game. Has a good mid-range jumper and is also a good free-throw shooter. Excellent rebounder with a great nose for the ball.
Still, Harangody's impact this season may be very minimal.
"Very little," said Scott Souza, Celtics beat writer for The MetroWest Daily News, about Harangody's impact this year. "(He) could develop into a role player eventually, but has some limitations that will be difficult to overcome against top NBA athletes."
Souza, who watched Harangody during the Celtics' first practice of training camp on Tuesday, sees some good and bad in the rookie.
"(His) strengths are his strength, energy and aggressiveness," Souza said. "Weaknesses are his height for his position, his lack of leaping ability and his awkward shot."
Comparing Harangody to one current NBA player is a tough task, though, as the effectiveness of his game is still in question.
"Some have said Ryan Gomes, but he was a more fluid player," said Souza. "Some have said Leon Powe or Craig Smith, but Powe was a better scorer before the knee operation and Smith was a bigger rebounder. Shelden Williams might be a good comparison from a physical standpoint, but from all indications Harangody has a better motor."
All things considered, Souza thinks Harangody could have a stay in Boston.
"I think he will stick with the Celtics and could have a few nice moments, but he has a long way to go to ever making an impact," he said. "Maybe if Glen Davis leaves as a free agent after this season, but even then I am not sure."
Personally, I believe that Harangody has the potential to be one of the best big men on the Celtics' bench over time.
His extreme dedication to the game and his unique ability to shoot both inside and out made him an all-around force in the college game. Of course though, just because a player was a college star, it doesn't mean they'll translate into an NBA talent (e.g. Adam Morrison).
Harangody certainly has respectable role models, too, with Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal ahead of him on the depth chart.
If Harangody can keep his weight under control (and not balloon up like Michael Sweetney) and continue to develop his game, he will have a nice, lengthy career in the Association.