After winning the draft lottery and hyping up Celtics nation, Dealin’ Danny Ainge went right ahead and traded the number one pick, getting in return the number 3 overall pick and (here’s where it gets confusing) the 2018 Lakers pick, if it falls 2-5. If that Lakers pick is 1 overall or 6 and below, the Celtics will receive the better of the 2019 Sacramento Kings pick and the 2019 76ers pick (both are also top 1 protected). Ainge reportedly said that the person the Celtics were planning on drafting 1st overall he is anticipating still being on the board at 3. This means that despite what all the media and fans thought, Markelle Fultz was never “the guy”. Danny Ainge doesn’t see him as the unanimous best talent in the draft. Now there are only two possibilities for Thursday night. Trading the pick, or drafting a piece for the long future. I don’t really have a personal preference, I really like a couple of prospects that should be available at 3 and there are certainly players around the association I would trade for. I am going to preview a few of each.
Names to look out for if the Celtics draft a player at 3:
Jayson Tatum was a freshman at Duke that appeared in 29 games for the Blue Devils. Standing at 6’8 and primarily playing the small forward position, Tatum averaged 16.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.1 BPG. He is a really prolific scorer and seen as one of the most “NBA-ready” players in the draft. Scouts say his 3-point shooting could use some work (34.2% last season), but he shot okay from the field (45.2%) and very good from the free throw line (84.9%). Defensively, he is not a standout player, but is not seen as a liability either.
As soon as the Celtics traded down, it was thought Jackson must be their guy. But having still not worked out for them, I am not so sure that this is the case. Jackson played his freshman year at Kansas, as a SF, averaging 16.3, 7.4, 3.0, 1.7, and 1.1, quite similar numbers to Tatum. However, Jackson is regarded as having bigger shooting issues than Tatum, despite having a slightly better field goal and 3-pt percentages. His free throw shooting was not good at all though, barely over 55%. Defensively, however, Jackson is a stud. He would fit great into one of Brad’s famous IT and D lineups where the Celtics play Isaiah Thomas and 4 versatile defenders (mostly Bradley, Smart, Crowder, and Horford this past season).
A bit of a sleeper here, but I have heard whispers of this player being the Celtics guy. He is actually one of only a few players the Celtics have actually worked out (Fultz and Tatum the other notables). In his freshman year at Florida State, the 6’10 PF Isaac averaged 12.0, 7.8, 1.2, 1.2, Land 1.5. A versatile defender and rim protector that can spread the floor acceptably well, Isaac may come off of the bench as a rotation player for a few years and become Al Horford’s replacement. Or possibly even start alongside Horford in the front court, if the Celtics continue to play small.
Names to keep an eye on if the pick is traded:
Of course. Is it even an NBA draft if the Celtics aren’t inquiring about Jimmy Butler? That being said, every year it does seem more and more likely that the Bulls will finally cave. Ainge seems to be infatuated with Butler because of his ability to make plays on both ends of the floor. Although he would be a great Celtic, attitude and basketball wise, I am a bit hesitant to give up a haul for Butler because he will not bring you over the Warriors and at 27, you have to wonder if he can stay in his prime with the young guns on this team to outlast them.
This is a new one. We got a Woj bomb this morning, saying that Phil Jackson is fielding calls for the 7’3 Latvian Unicorn, a to the point where they are planning a future without him. Wow. If Kristaps is available, the C’s should be a front runner to land him because we have the most assets in the NBA. I would pretty much give up anything not named Jaylen Brown for Kristaps. And there are certainly scenarios where I would give up Jaylen, but not along with a Nets pick. The ideal situation is to keep Jaylen and Kristaps and then at 19 and 21 years old respectively, you have a bright, bright future ahead of you with those two.
Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, or a MEGADEAL
Very, very, unlikely. But there have been murmurs. The only reason that these incredible talents are mentioned here is that Danny is loaded with picks, and keeps adding more. If given the opportunity he may just sell the farm for a player of this caliber. Don’t get your hopes up for this to happen, but don’t 100% rule it out either.
Man am I hyped up for Thursday. Please don’t let us down Danny.