The NBA Finals are over and there’s a new world champion. Unfortunately, LeBron James was able to take home his third NBA title but on the bright side, the Cavaliers won so hopefully that means they’ll decide to keep Kevin Love after all. Also on the bright side, Harrison Barnes stock should plummet due to his underwhelming performance in the Finals, which could mean theres a chance the Warriors let him walk this summer. But on to more important matters, such as this Thursday’s NBA draft where your Boston Celtics hold the the rights to the third overall draft pick.
The Celtics are looking at everybody and are open to just about any trade imaginable. Kidding, but seriously. Let’s get real, nobody outside of the Celtics organization actually knows what will happen come Thursday night and I’m not going to pretend that I know any more than the next guy. I’m on record saying that I hate speculating and trying to predict the unpredictable nature of Danny Ainge, but I’ll play along for the hell of it.
Based off the various reports I’ve read on ESPN and around the internet, I’m under the impression that the Ainge and the rest of the Celtics front office would rather trade the third pick for a sure thing than take the chance and use it on a prospect that may never pan out. While there is a plethora of talent in this year’s draft, trading the pick for a superstar is clearly the safer option. However, other teams are also aware of this reality which makes them less likely to give up a superstar unless the Celtics sweeten the pot with players or additional draft picks which usually results in the opposing team asking for too much. This is probably the conversation that Ainge has been having with teams around the league, and while it’s not likely that the Celtics will find a trade that gets them what they want without giving up too much, we won’t know for sure until the Celtics are on the clock.
Right now, the two most realistic trade options appear to be Jimmy Butler and Jahlil Okafor. The Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly offered the fifth overall pick for Butler so theoretically the Celtics could one-up them by offering the third pick in this year’s draft. The 76ers are actively shopping Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor in the attempt to get back into the lottery to select Providence guard Kris Dunn. The Celtics targeted Okafor at last year’s trade deadline so the fact that the Celtics have been tied to him again as the draft approaches makes sense. I do like Okafor a lot, but he doesn’t exactly fit the Celtics need as a rim protector, so I’d hope the Celtics wouldn’t part ways with their third pick in order to get him. ESPN’s Chad Ford doesn’t believe Okafor is worth a top-5 pick so if the Celtics could move the pick for a package of Noel and Okafor or simply get Okafor without giving up the third pick, I say go for it.
As for a scenario where the Celtics land a big time star such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, or dare I say, Kevin Love, there haven’t been any signs that point to any of these trades happening so I’ll leave them alone for now.
So if the Celtics keep the third overall pick, here’s my list, in order, of who I think they should select.
I’ve said from the start that if I were the one making this selection I’d take Hield. He’s the safest option in this year’s draft (behind Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram) because you actually know what you’re going to get from him. At 6’5″ he’d be a bit undersized to cover some of the shooting guards in the league but 1) That hasn’t stopped the Celtics before, see Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and 2) His length should compensate a bit for what he lacks in strength and height. More importantly, he fits the Celtics immediate need for a shooter. The guy can shoot from just about anywhere and he can hit set jump-shots as well as create his own shot. Hield has worked out twice for the LA Lakers and even though all signs point to them selecting Ingram at two, Hield is adamant that they will shock the world and select him instead. If that’s the case the Celtics OBVIOUSLY HAVE TO take Ingram.
This one is a long shot, but it’s such a no-brainer if he’s somehow available when the Celtics are on the clock. If he’s there the Celtics need to take him for themselves or atleast as trade bait since Ingram and Simmons are the clear trophies in this year’s draft.
If the Celtics don’t take Hield and Ingram is already off the board, I’m just about all-in on Brown. At first, the fact that he only played one year in college threw me off, but the more I read about him, the more I like him. Brown is a rare breed of basketball player. For starters, he turned down offers from UNC, Kentucky, and Kansas and chose the education at Cal instead. This is something I think brad Stevens would love. At 6’7″ 225, he already possesses an NBA-ready body and he would fit the Celtics need for an additional wing behind Jae Crowder. He didn’t have the greatest shooting season at Cal, but according to reports of his workouts, his shooting appears to have improved.
Spoke to several teams that had Cal forward Jaylen Brown in for draft workouts. All 3 said his performance was… https://t.co/ad9R5HSp3f
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 17, 2016
Brown is great when attacking the rim and with his body, he shouldn’t have much trouble getting to the rim or playing defense in the NBA. He’s also someone that wants to learn and wants to be better everyday, something I’m sure Ainge and Stevens value highly.
The 18-year old Croatian is easily the most intriguing prospect in this year’s draft, partly due to his size and skill set combination and partly because of the glaring similarities between him and last year’s Euro-phenom Kristaps Porzingis. That’s what makes it so hard to take the chance on Bender. Bender checks in at 7’1″ 225, but unlike most 7-footers he has good court vision and the ability to put the ball on the floor. Like Porzinigis, he can shoot the three, admittedly not as well, but that can improve with time. This skill set, combined with his frame will make it extremely hard for NBA GMs to pass up on him in today’s NBA where stretch power forwards and centers are a desirable commodity. The big knock on Bender is the fact that he’s played sparingly overseas for Maccabi Tel Aviv, averaging just 14.5 minutes per game, but that’s understandable considering he’s only 18. Ainge has yet to comment on what he saw from Bender while scouting him overseas last month, but he is scheduled to workout for the Celtics today so we shoudl get a better idea on him later today. If all goes well, Mike Gorman believes it will be very hard to pass on Bender.
Jamal Murray & Kris Dunn
If the Celtics choose to go for a guard other than Hield, please let it be Murray over Dunn. Let’s get one thing straight; the Celtics don’t need another guard who can’t shoot, so Dunn, the door is over there. At least Murray can shoot, and on top of that, he oozes confidence which you love to see out of a top-5 prospect. And the fact that “his camp” has refused to let him do solo workouts and says he won’t do group workouts unless Ingram, Murray, or Simmons are involved is just ridiculous. I thought he was a Primma Donna while he was at Providence last year and he appeared as though he didn’t care about winning at times and was only interested in his own stats. So for that reason, I’m out on Dunn. Murray on the other hand played great in his one year at Kentucky, he can play both guard positions effectively, and he truly believes he’s the best player in this year’s draft. It’s hard to find something not to like about Murray, and although I do think Dunn will ultimately be a good pro, I just think Hield is the safer option if the Celtics choose to draft a guard.