Celtics fans had to play the waiting game during the 2021 NBA draft, as this marked the first time since 2009 that Boston did not have a single pick in the first round. The Celtics originally had the 16th pick, but traded it to simultaneously end the Kemba Walker era and bring back Al Horford. Boston did end up having a second rounder though, and with the 45th pick, they used it to select overseas prospect Juhann Begarin. Now unless you study French basketball profusely, then you probably don’t know who Begarin is, so allow me to fill in the gaps and properly introduce you to the latest in a long line of Celtics draft picks.
Begarin was born in the South Caribbean, where his parents both played and coached basketball in Guadalupe. At age 16, Begarin moved to France to pursue a career in basketball. He played for the U16 French team in the 2018 FIBA championships, averaging 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals a game to lead France to a 4th place finish. This led to an invitation to the Basketball without Borders camp, the NBA global outreach program. He dominated during his time at the camp, and earned himself the honor of Camp MVP, joining the likes of NBA players such as R.J. Barrett and Nikola Mirotic. Shortly after his dominant showing, he signed a contract to play in the French league, where he’s been ever since.
If anyone expects Begarin to be in the Green and White next to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown next season, they should think again. Begarin is still a work in progress, but his intangibles are definitely intriguing. The 6-foot-6-inch guard has a wingspan of 7 feet, and a standing reach of 8-feet-8-inches. He has an NBA body to go with NBA athleticism, but his skills are still lacking on the offensive side. Defensively however he has shown that he can guard all perimeter positions, and his wingspan gives him an ideal body of a shutdown defender.
While the only Celtics draft pick probably won’t be suiting up next season, given the teams roster situation, this is a perfect example of a draft and stash used effectively. The Celtics don’t need to waste a roster spot on someone who won’t be ready to contribute for a couple of years. So keep him in France to develop his game while you use the spot to try to get someone who can help you win now.
Begarin is a very good long-term project, who (if his skills develop) could potentially be a pretty good player for the Celtics down the line. The fans need to be patient with him though, and instead focus on free agency to see what president Stevens (still weird to say) has in store for this upcoming season.