This could be the most important draft for the Celtics for the next 10 years. This might be the deepest draft in a while, but the Celtics could use this draft in more ways than just picking a solid player. The Celts have 2 picks in the first round this year, and 2 picks in the first next year. If that doesn’t have trade written all over it than I don’t know what Danny Ainge is doing. This draft preview will outline all the Celtics options, from trades to picks, in order from best option to worst option.
1) Get Kevin Love
-Priority #1. We would have to give up our 2 first round picks this year, probably both 1st rounders next year, Keith Bogans, Brandon Bass, and Jared Sullinger to get Kevin Love. However…it’d be worth it. He is the best offensive big man in basketball right now. He’s an incredible rebounder, who can start the fastbreak instantly. Dishing to a point guard like Rondo after a rebound will make him even better. Also, playing with the best pick and roll player in the league, Rondo will lead the league in assists again. A lineup with Rondo, Jeff Green, and Kevin Love will be competitive in the Eastern Conference. After a couple more deals to round out the squad, I could see this team making a major run. Love and Rondo would play so perfectly together, it would almost be a crime for Danny not to pull off a move her. Also essential that Kevin signs a long-term extension, so we don’t give up half our team plus the South End for a one and done player.
2) Get Demarcus Cousins and Isiah Thomas
-If Kevin Love has too big of an asking price, than maybe we can get a bargain deal for these 2 quality players. Cousins can be a top 5 offensive big man in the NBA if he has his head into it. Brad Stevens can get any player to play with effort. Isiah Thomas could be the 6th man of the year in the Eastern Conference. Combining Thomas and Rondo would make for the fastest, scariest backcourt in the league. For these 2 we may only have to give up this years picks, and a couple expiring contracts (Bass and Bogans.) A lineup with Rondo, Jeff Green, Sullinger, and Cousins could be dangerous for a while. All young, talented, and have potential to be stars in this league.
3) Draft Joel Embiid and Nik Stauskas
-Yes yes I know Embiid is hurt, but so what. If we don’t get Love we probably won’t be competing this year anyway. He clearly has the most potential out of any player in this draft, and could be a superstar in 2-3 years. A true center in this league is hard to come by, so when a defensive presence with an offensive skill set like Embiid comes around, you can’t pass him up. The injuries are scaring some teams, so if he slides to #6, the Celts have to draft him.
With Avery Bradley leaving, it is time to start thinking about the shooting guard for the future. Finding value at the 17th pick may be hard, but if Nik Stauskas is there, then we have our guy. Stauskas has improved his game every offseason, and would be a perfect Celtic under Brad Stevens. He can do many things that Avery Bradley did, as well as what he couldn’t do. Nik can shoot the ball from anywhere, he can create his own shot, and he can drive and dish near the hoop. Avery may be a top defender, but Nik isn’t too shabby himself. He is an underrated defender that will be able to hold his own in the league. Rondo, Stauskas, and Embiid in a couple of years is a scary 1,2,3 punch.
4) Draft Aaron Gordon and Nik Stauskas
-If Embiid is taken, then Aaron Gordon is the next guy up. His athleticism is similar to Russell Westbrook’s. He is defensively as good as Ron Artest used to be. And his offensive game is as unpolished as Serge Ibaka’s was a couple of years ago, but look how far he came. Aaron would be a project, but with the best young coach in the game, he could become a huge factor in this league down the road. He could play the 3 or the 4, and we could have a big lineup with both him, Sullinger, and Olynyk in the Game. Gordon can rebound, play defense, run the fast break, and play team basketball. Sounds like a Celtic to me.
5) Trade down and draft Dougie McDermott and Nik Stauskas
-I think taking Dougie Buckets at the #6 pick is a stretch, so if we could trade down to around the 9/10th pick, and grab a late second rounder, then Dougie would be a perfect fit. He can play the stretch 3 that Jeff Green couldn’t. We could move Jeff to his natural position, the 2/3 guard, and have a true offensive presence up front. Dougie could space the floor for Rondo to drive and dish. He would complete our offensive front, and make it almost impossible to guard. Sullinger, Dougie, and Olynyk can all shoot from the outside. The problem with Dougie is he might get dominated on the defensive side, as well as have a tough time on the boards. However, I think with coaching and strength training, Dougie might be a new Dirk Nowitzki. Can’t pass up white boy talent in Boston.
6) Trade Rondo to the Cavs for #1 and draft Andrew Wiggins
-Rondo is great, but he does not have a guaranteed contract after this year. We’d like to think he loves Boston and wouldn’t leave, but we all know this is a business. If the Cavs are looking for a franchise player to pair with Kyrie Irving, then maybe we give up Rondo and take the #1 pick. Wiggins is not a sure thing like Rondo is, but his potential is much greater than Rajon’s. Wiggins could be the go to scorer for the Celtics for the next 10 years. This option is so low on my list because I am a huge Rondo fan and want to build a team around him. Wiggins may become a great player in this league, but he needs a good point guard and a solid supporting cast to be able to grow to his full potential; and I don’t think Boston is the right fit right now.
7) Draft Noah Vonleh and James Young
-Noah Vonleh could be the most underrated player in this draft. If he slips to #6 and Embiid and Gordon are taken, then Vonleh will most likely be available. Vonleh is tall, long, athletic, and skilled. He already has a polished offensive skillset, and with a little coaching, he could be a go-to player. He is a bit undersized for a center in this league, but his athleticism and effort can make up for it. I watched a couple of his games this year, and he was incredibly underused. However, he did not let the coaching at Indiana get him down, he showed his talent in other ways; hustling, playing defense, and being a presence on the boards.
James Young is a player that is ready for the league right now. He could be a starting 2 guard for the Celtics this upcoming season. He plays great, intense on-ball defense. His offensive game needs some work, specifically his outside shooting, but if this team wants to win, we need to play better defense, and Young could help immediately.
8) Draft Dante Exum and Dario Saric
-Dante Exum is a 6’6 guard that can handle the ball, shoot, and play good defense. He wants to play PG in this league, but if he is paired with Rondo, he would slide to the 2. That backcourt would be scary on the fastbreak. 2 guards who can both handle the ball and distribute would be very dangerous, as long as our bigs can hit the shots. Drafting Exum would give us flexibility with Rondo and his contract situation next Summer.
Saric is a very talented and young big man from Croatia. He won’t play in the NBA for 2/3 years, but if the Celtics aren’t winning now anyway, then we can wait. With Exum developing over the next couple years, and Rondo playing for another team, we can be patient with Saric. After a couple more years polishing his offensive skillset, he could be a serious weapon. He is only 19 and already has the athleticism and skills for the NBA. Both these players would be projects, but with our current lineup, maybe a project is something we can afford..