Another NBA trade deadline where Danny Ainge chose not to make even one minuscule move has come and gone. This current Celtics roster is what it’s going to be for the remainder of this season; whether the end comes sooner or later, we don’t know. Along with keeping the roster intact, Boston still have their 2017 and 2018 Brooklyn Nets picks.
Barring some berserk trade going down on Draft Day in late June, the C’s will have a top-4 pick in this year’s draft, while the actual spot they pick is to be determined by those ping pong balls in mid-May. Until then, we can have a field day with that oddly addicting draft simulator.
Like I said, the Celtics cannot pick worse than fourth overall this year, thanks to the Nets’ immense dumpster fire of a basketball franchise. They currently have the worst record in the league. No matter where you stand on Ainge’s decision to do jack squat at this year’s trade deadline, we as Celtics fans can at least have this to be positive about. The Celtics have never had the number one pick, so we could witness history, in that sense.
It seems as if every single year, the draft class is as stacked as ever, and it’s sure to have the next LeBron James in there somewhere amongst the tons of talent. It typically all ends up being bullshit in the end, but there’s only one way to find out. If those pesky ping pong balls decide to bounce our way this one time, the C’s might get their chance at their own ‘LeBron’, or something like that. I looked at some potential Celtics draftees that you’re sure to be hearing all about one way or another come June 22nd:
Markelle Fultz - PG - Washington
The 18 year-old, 6’4”, 195 pound freshman averages 23 points, 6 boards and assists a game, and is easily one of the more dynamic players in college basketball right now. He shoots 40% beyond the arc and 50% from the field. The kid can literally do it all. He’s got handles, can pass, shoot, finish, you name it. He’s been compared to the likes of James Harden because of his pure, all-around offensive ability. He isn’t known for his defensive ability, again, similar to Harden, but under a system like Boston’s, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Being only eighteen years old, Fultz is presumably just getting started. One of the few reasons why I’m okay with Ainge not going out and getting that star player just yet is because of this kid. That’s a pretty bold statement, but that’s just how good he is. Fultz along with Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt is straight up dreamy. One of the only question marks surrounding him is his ability to have impact, due to the fact that he’s on a crappy Washington Huskies team, and they’ve faced a pretty easy schedule thus far.
Lonzo Ball - PG - UCLA
Ball is a 19 year-old, 6’6”, 190 pound freshman, very similar to Fultz, who is averaging 15 points, 7.5 assists and 6 rebounds per game. Ball’s high school brother has been in the news recently, too, dropping over 90 points in a game, not to be confused with either or. The college-Ball has been called “Jason Kidd with a jump shot’’, and he’s a completely splendid passer, but is a playmaker. It would be interesting to see how Thomas and Ball would handle who gets the ball in the backcourt if Ball were to become a Celtic. All the while, his shooting form is rather strange, but that doesn’t come close to stopping him from doing what he’s doing. Ball turned the Bruins around this season, going from a 9-18 record last season without him to currently 24-3, and number 2 in the country. Without Ball, UCLA isn’t in this position. Unlike Fultz, we know as fans that Ball can make such an impact on his team and help them win in such fashion. Ball is a notably bright basketball mind and is another all-around great player. There are few flaws in his game, if any at this point in time. As it stands right now, either Fultz or Ball are going to be drafted number one. It’s a tossup, and has been for a while and will probably continue to be for another while.
Josh Jackson - SF - Kansas
Jackson is a 20 year-old, 6’8”, 205 pound freshman, averaging 16.5 points and 7 rebounds a game, possessing anything and everything you could want in a basketball player. He’s complete in every sense of the word and can do it all. He’s been compared to guys like Tracy McGrady and Paul George (it hurts to mention the words 'Paul George' as a Celtics fan now). Jackson's coach, Bill Self, recently raved after a game about how 'versatile' he is, and it's so true. Unlike the previous two players mentioned, Jackson gets it done at both ends of the court, but struggles behind the arc and at the free throw line. He’s a stupid-good defender, averaging a block and two steals a game, thanks to his athleticism and size. His upside is insane, despite his noted struggles. Him being twenty, older than most of his fellow highly-touted draft-mates, might make things easier as he becomes a pro. He isn’t necessarily classified as flashy, but in the end, he has legitimate all-star potential.
Malik Monk - SG - Kentucky
The 19 year-old, 6’3”, 200 pound freshman is averaging 21 points, 2 assists and rebounds per game under John Calipari, shooting 40% from three and 50% from the field. Monk is putting up one of the greatest seasons ever for a guard under Calipari, which says something, considering he’s coached the likes of Derrick Rose, Devin Booker and John Wall. Monk isn’t receiving much hype despite having a hell of a season. He’s quite the pure scorer and shooter, kind of like Ray Allen, is physical when getting into the paint and plans on becoming a more athletic basketball player, both offensively and defensively. Monk has that ability to create his shot, which is critical if you want to succeed in today’s NBA. Monk is best-known for his monster 47-point, 8 three-pointer game against the Tar Heels back in December of last year. He has the ability to supply an instant offense for the Celtics if he ends up falling to us, if history continues to repeat itself and the ping pong balls bounce the wrong way.
Jonathan Isaac - SF/PF - Florida State
Isaac is a 19-year old, 6’10”, 210 pound freshman, averaging 12 points, 7 boards and 1.5 blocks a game who possesses Kyrie-esque handles. He doesn’t get much national attention due to playing on a deep Seminoles team, despite having top 1-2 draft pick potential if he played elsewhere. Isaac is an all-around efficient player with phenomenal footwork and isn’t afraid to break a pair of ankles every once in awhile. Similar to Monk, Isaac could be a worst-case scenario pick if the ping pong balls screw Boston over. Isaac can provide crucial great defense and is a solid three-point shooter, a combination that every NBA team needs in order to win. His jump shot is fantastic, possessing deep range with it and has the ability to shoot atop defenders. Isaac’s all-around length gives him a serious advantage in any offensive or defensive situation. He can be a legit successful pro baller with his pure athleticism up and down the parquet. He’s an incredibly patient player, usually when it comes to creating his shot, which can be hard to watch at times. He’s primarily a small-ball player and is notoriously inconsistent in his offensive play, unfortunately. Put him in a Brad Stevens-run system, and I think those problems disintegrate.
Harry Giles - PF - Duke
Giles is an 18-year old, 6’11”, 240 pound freshman with a monstrous 7’3” wingspan averaging a measly 5 points and 4 rebound and assists a game. Aside from the numbers, Giles’ wingspan gives him endless defensive opportunities, and as you could guess, is great essentially solely because of his defense. His shot-blocking ability is second to none, and is a phenomenal rebounder. His long arms will almost always win any defensive battle, and is incredibly helpful when it comes to offensive rebounding. Thanks to his height and physique, Giles has great lateral agility. There are two reasons as to why he’s gone rather unnoticed so far: one, he’s a member of a pretty deep Duke team and has been buried in the bench, and two, he’s looked down upon because of the two knee surgeries he had back in his high school career. Two torn ACL’s have severely limited him for years. While he can guard perimeter guys and shoot threes all day long, scouts immediately look to his knees and push him aside. He’s had the utmost up-and-down basketball career, shadowing the ever-rising Philly Sixer Joel Embiid this season.
No matter where this Nets pick ends up, whether it be first or fourth overall, they’re going to land a talented, bright-futured player. Danny Ainge’s drafting ability is infamously negatively criticized, and rightfully so, but trust me when I say that he cannot mess this one up. They’re essentially guaranteed one of those players listed above. When it comes to the NBA draft, whether you have the first pick or the 60th pick, you take the best player available. That’s just how it works. Boston will have the chance to do just that, and will most likely end up having to choose between multiple candidates. Never a bad problem to have. It all depends on who they view as the best player.
Here’s what I would do if I were the Celtics:
If they land first overall: Fultz
Second overall: Ball
Third overall: Jackson
Fourth overall: Monk