Spoiler alert, DeAndre Ayton will not be available at 27 when the Celtics are on the clock. By all reports we can safely eliminate 17 players from the Celtics big board; DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter, Robert Williams, Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr., Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Mikel Bridges, Kevin Knox, Miles Bridges, Lonnie Walker, Zhaire Smith, Jerome Robinson, Trae Young, and Collin Sexton.
To that end, the in reviewing the remaining prospects we come to the same conclusions that many others have, that there isn’t a whole lot of difference in the player level between pick 20 and pick 40, and that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
Names such as Mitchell Robinson, Troy Brown, Josh Okogie, Kostas Antetokounmpo, Keita Bates-Diop, and Aaron Holiday could all merit consideration should they be available when Danny Ainge submits Boston’s selection.
Are positions a consideration at all? The phrase most often uttered with regards to Brad Stevens style is positionless basketball, but is that really true? Its not with great frequency that you saw Aron Baynes bring the ball up, or Shane Larkin on the block. It is a fair statement to say the traditional point guard, off guard, small forward, power forward, center concepts were done away with in favor of posts, wings, and ball handlers.
At this point the wing position seems the most well stocked with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Morris all deserving of starter minutes.
Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart (while Smart is a free agent, he is a restricted free agent, assuming a qualifying offer is presented, which seems a forgone conclusion), while capable of playing on the wing, should be considered as ball handlers. But Irving and Rozier have their free agency imminent, and Smart could accept the qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent a year from now. So the complete dismantling of the ball handler group should be considered. At the very least it does not seem likely that all three will return in 2019-2020. Additionally, Shane Larkin is a free agent and seems likely to have earned a larger roll elsewhere.
The post grouping seems a bit thin as well. Al Horford, while the anchor of the defense, and a key offensive catalyst, is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Daniel Theis is coming off injury, and his contract is up at the end of this season. Guerschon Yabusele has shown some promise in the G-league, but is no sure thing. Even is Baynes is brought bad (not a guarantee) this is an area that could use additional depth. Greg Monroe is almost surely gone.
With all that in mind, lets examine 7 players to keep in mind when the Celtic’s selection draws near:
KEVIN HUERTER – WING – MARYLAND
Good size, long reach, and a seemingly effortless stroke with extended NBA range, Huerter looks an awful lot like Kyle Korver. While not what I’d call a tenacious defender, he is fundamentally sound, and someone when put into a solid team defensive system, could handle the concepts and contribute. Based upon the Celtics usage of the 3 point shot, Huerter would merit serious consideration, especially considering the minimal chance of seeing Marcus Morris in green after this season, he could ascend to that 4th wing spot.
CHANDLER HUTCHINSON – WING – BOISE STATE
An athletic wing from the Mountain West Conference. Strong, athletic, and good instincts. Offensively at his best getting down hill and attacking the rim. He has the protypical size for a modern NBA wing. His offensive style of play can be compared to Jaylen Brown. Not to say he can reach the same level as Brown, but his style is reminiscent. Defensively, he has all the tools. He can anticipate in the open floor, has a long reach, and some toughness. As much as his style reminded me of Brown on offense, his defensive tendencies reminded me of Tatum.
MORITZ WAGNER – POST – MICHIGAN
Don’t ask me why, but every time I’ve watched Mo Wagner at Michigan, I thought, this is what Billy Curley would look like if he was playing today. Now, as a native New Englander, I consider that a compliment. The Curley name is almost mythical in New England basketball circles. On the other hand, at the end of the day, Curley’s NBA career wasn’t littered with all star appearances and numerous championship rings.
That being said, Wagner is a player who knows how to win, is well coached, and who has played for a coach, Beilein, who employs some of the same offensive concepts that Brad Stevens embraces. He is likely to be the best post option available at this point in the draft.
GRAYSON ALLEN – COMBO- DUKE
Everyone’s favorite collegiate villain. Allen is a draft rarity in that he’s actually ready to play now. It would be worth drafting Allen just to see him and Smart go at it in practice. He is both tough, and skilled. He’s played in big moments, and excelled in those big moments. His detractors would have you think he was a thug with no business on the court, when in fact he is an NBA level combo guard who has done nothing but put his team in position to win games his whole college career (allright, maybe not NOTHING but, there were a few trips along the way). Not only does he scream “AINGE GUY” to me, he reminds me of Ainge himself.
JALEN BRUNSON – BALL HANDLER – VILLANOVA
I’ve said numerous times that last year Jalen Brunson was the best college basketball player in the country. That’s right, the best college basketball player in the country. That is not the same as saying he is the best player in college basketball. Undoubtedly players such as DeAndre Ayton, or Collin Sexton are more talented. But there was no player I’d want on my team, for a full season, the practices, in the locker room, games, study halls, all of it, more than I’d want Jalen Brunson.
While Brunson himself was not born and raised in New England, his father Rick Brunson starred for Salem High back in the day before taking his talents to Temple University. Brunson is a smart, heady, tough, and skilled floor general. I don’t envision him pushing to unseat Kyrie for starting lead guard duties, but I suspect, that wherever he is selected you’ll see Brunson in the league as one of the top back up point guards for at least the next decade.
DONTE DIVENCEZNO – COMBO – VILLANOVA
One of the stars of this year’s tourney run was late bloomer Donte DiVencezno. Capable of being the primary ball handler, he also has the size and shooting prowess to play off the ball. In terms of comparisons for Celtic fans, think of another guard who played college ball in Philly, Delonte West. A skilled player who would look great as a 6th man, an instant offense type guy, just hopefully without the baggage. He reportedly has been moving up draft boards, and may not be available at 27.
ELIE OKOBO – BALL HANDLER – PAU LACQ ORTHEZ (FRANCE)
An intriguing internation prospect. A review of film shows a player adept as the pick n’ roll, a must in today’s NBA. Capable of scoring around the rim, and from distance. Still more of a scorer than a distributor, he does appear to have the needed skills to perform as the primary ball handler of an NBA team.
While the need for another ball handler appears imminent with the uncertainty surrounding the future contracts of Marcus Smart, Kyrie Irving, and Terry Rozier, it is not immediately imminent. Meaning drafting Okobo now would allow for an additional year of development, either as a draft n stash, or maybe by getting him an EZ Pass box for all those trips from Boston to Portland to play for the Red Claws.
Given the tiers of this draft, nothing the Celtics do will be too surprising. They could very well trade up, looking to get into that top 8-13 range. They could sit still and see what comes to them, or they could even trade out of the first, looking to instead draft the same caliber player around 35 that they could at 27, but without having to provide a guaranteed contract.
It should be a fun night for NBA fans.
- By Jason Sullivan
- Find us on Twitter @TopDucker or on Facebook at You’re Ducking Right