Show of hands of who else is about to shit their pants? All the way in the back? Don’t be shy, how could you not. The 2016 Draft is a very important date in this rebuild no matter how you want to slice it. Ever since the season ended in mid April (sigh..) the focus has solely been on the Lottery, and the Draft. On May 17th, in my opinion we got semi-boned. Wasn’t the worst mathematically, but for what I think the Celtics had in mind when they made this trade in the first place, it sucks. How you feel the Celtics should go about this rebuild is entirely up to you. Trade the pick for a player, trade down and get more assets, keep the pick, it doesn’t matter. None of us know, and every option has its own amount of risk. Fortunately for me, I have an opinion on what they should do. We’ve all heard every possible option for the Celtics to take at three. One day its Dunn, the next Murray, don’t forget about Bender, but then wait, Buddy Hield made 79 threes! Celtics need shooting! What that tells me, is just like the saying “If you have two quarterbacks you actually have none”. If there isn’t a clear standout, which obviously there isn’t at the third pick in a two player draft, then you should move the pick. There is basically no difference between Bender, Murray, Dunn, Hield so why shouldn’t the Celtics just trade down to like MN, get another asset, and still end up with the same chance the player they get is the one that separates from the pack? If you’d rather trade for a player, I’m with you. For me that’s option A. Nerlens Noel, absolutely, as long as the rest isn’t too expensive. Khris Middleton? Sign me the fuck up. I’m all for building through the draft, but if there is young NBA experienced players that still have upside that you can get for a pick where there is no sure thing, you do it.
As we count the hours until the Draft, it’s important to even know what we are starting with
That’s a lot of freaking picks. If you’re trading for a player, every pick is available depending on the caliber of player. That’s encouraging. Simple math tells you that the Celts don’t have roster space for all their 2016 picks. Somethings gotta give, and my gut tells me Ainge isn’t about to trade his NBA talent to fill the roster with rookies in a weak draft. That’s why people are saying the draft starts with Boston. The whole NBA world just sitting waiting for us to make our move, that’s power my friends.
For the sake of this blog, let’s pretend they are keeping their picks, if it were up to me, they should go shooting/big man/project in this first round. Who are those guys? It’s anybody’s guess
The Names You Hear: Dragan Bender, Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown
As I said above, anyone of them could turn into a great player, anyone of them could flop. With a pick like this, do you pick for need or best player available, that’s the eternal question. When I look at this group, here is what I see.
Dragan Bender: 7’1 225 18 years old
I see a kid that barely played in Israel, but depending on who you read he has the potential to be something special. You’re comfortable with that? I’m not so sure. He’s at what, two years away at best? So the first big trade chip from the Big 3 trade you are cashing in won’t really help you for two seasons. People tell you to not focus on Porzingis but Kukoc as a comparable, like that is supposed to make me feel better. If they take him, we live with it and pray, I’m just not sure I have the stomach for it.
Jamal Murray: 6’4 207 19 years old
Here’s what we know for sure. If the Celts keep the pick and don’t take Bender, one of the main guards on this roster is out. Isaiah, Avery, Marcus, Turner, take your pick. Think of when they drafted Marcus at 6, they made it clear that when you pick that high, your rookie plays. The clear choice is to give a guy like Murray Evan Turner’s minutes, but at 19 there is NO WAY he’s ready to step right into that sort of role right away. It’s no secret that the Celtics need shooting, but can Murray really shoot, not just in a bullshit workout. Well, for maybe the biggest program in the country he averaged 35 min a game, avg 20/5/2 with 45%/40% splits. If you’re looking for a comfort level, this makes me much more comfortable than 2 points per game in a JCC gym. The knock on Murray is his defense, but for me, that’s something I live with because of his ability to shoot. We have defenders.
Kris Dunn: 6’4 220 lbs 22 years old
First and foremost, you should read Reags’ breakdown on Dunn. He can tell you more about him as a college player. I only care about how he fits with the Celtics. What makes Kris Dunn an interesting case is that people say he can’t shoot. That’s not entirely accurate. As a freshman and a sophomore, he couldn’t shoot. It didn’t matter if it was twos or threes, they had no shot. As a junior he crept up to 47% from the field. As a senior, 44%. I won’t sit here and argue he’s a good three point shooter, even after four years in college. But I will ask you to pause and think for a second, neither was Kawhi Leonard. You can learn to shoot. I’ve seen people say, “oh the Celtics don’t need another Marcus Smart”, but they are different players. First off, Smart was a 29% three point shooter at OSU, Dunn is better than that. In reality, Dunn is probably a better all around player than Marcus was coming out of college. Certainly not defensively, which is what makes Marcus so awesome, but Dunn’s ability to play defense, rebound, and pass, do make him an intriguing option.
Buddy Hield: 6’5 215 lbs 22 years old
Maybe the most controversial option of any name discussed as a guy for this spot. You are either all in or all out on Buddy Hield. Again, Reags broke down him down, but is there a chance he is the right choice here, even if it’s a stretch. I don’t want to believe that 22 is old, but given the other options, it’s not a great sign for Hield. Buddy is a guy that if you end up taking, you are crossing your fingers that what we saw this past college season is the type of player you’re getting. There is something to be said about a guy who stays in school and develops into a lottery pick, just like Dunn. Does GS care that Draymond Green was a senior when they drafted him? If you’re the Celts, you like the maturity, you like the ability to shoot, and you like the size. If Hield was 20 or 21 he is absolutely 100% the pick. If the Celts can get past the age, I guess I could too.
Jaylen Brown: 6’7 225 lbs 19 years old
Maybe the best athlete of this group, he’s also maybe the biggest question mark. Like Dunn, he has the reputation of a guy who can’t shoot, and his 43%/29% splits sort of back that up. Watch any highlight video of him and you’ll see a guy who can jump out of the gym. His size is appealing, as is his defense, and Jimmy Butler apparently loves him, but I’m not sold. I can live with Dunn’s shooting issues because of all the other things he does for you, I’m not sure Brown gives you that same amount of ammo. Maybe I’m being too hard on him, but it terrifies me he’s just this years Gerald Green.
Official pick: Murray, but it’s close
The Names You Hear: Henry Ellenson, Brice Johnson, Deyonta Davis, and Cheick Diallo.
Aside from shooting, the Celts need to draft a big man. There’s a strong chance they don’t bring back Sullinger, who knows if both Amir and Jonas has their second year guaranteed, and even if Mickey steps into a rotation role, they still are going to need more depth. Last time the Celtics needed a big man and took one in this range?
Danny struck gold once, who says he won’t again.
Henry Ellenson: 6’10 242 lbs 19 years old
I want to be all in on a player like Ellenson at 16. He’s got good size, he rebounds, he can push the ball and run the past break. He can drive. On the surface, what’s not to love. Here’s what’s holding me back. Are we sure he isn’t just Colton Iverson? That scares me, but maybe I’m reading too much into the tall goofy white guy thing. For the way the NBA is headed, you would think he projects to be the type of player that could find a role. In this range, the big man you choose you really hope you don’t have to send to Maine, and I can see Brad using some of Ellenson’s skills. Think of how the Celtics play. They prefer a fast pace, run the floor style. They want to turn you over and run, having a big that can run the floor and pul his defender from the basket is what potentially fits perfectly.
Brice Johnson: 6’9 225 lbs 21 years old
Another guy who stayed four years in college, mostly because he had to. His numbers at UNC were impressive (17/10/1.5) similar to what Jordan Mickey did at LSU, only not quite the same rim protector. I like him for a couple reasons. First, he showed that he can stay with multiple positions, even guards who put it on the floor against him. His midrange game also isn’t terrible, which in today’s P&R obsessed NBA could be valuable. His height gives me a little concern since at this pick you’re selecting a big man who you NEED to be able to give you solid minutes sort of right away, and do we really need a 6’9 PF? My biggest fear with Brice, is that at the end of the day, he’s JaJuan Johnson
Deyonta Davis: 6’11 245 lbs 19 years old
Deyonta is a perfect example of a guy who probably should have stayed in college, but opted out probably because of how weak this draft is. I can’t knock him for getting his money, but when we compare him to the two other guys so far for this spot, he is the definition of project. He played just 18mpg as a freshman at MSU. What you like about him is his ability to run the floor, obviously his size, and in flashes showed his ability to protect the rim. and rebound at a pretty effective rate. Again, if you can stomach the risk, I can see why the Celts would like him, but there is just so much unknown.
Cheick Diallo: 6’9 218 lbs 19 years old
Just like Deyonta, this kid should have stayed at Kansas. If we want to say Deyonta is a risk because of his limited minutes, multiply that by about a thousand for this kid. Only getting 7mpg his freshman season, he’s the very definition of raw. Of this group he’s my least favorite, mostly because he hasn’t shown nearly enough in my opinion. Here’s why you like him if your the Celts though. He’s got great length. You’re taking him for his defensive ability and hope he rounds into something more. The Celts do have a need for rim protection, and maybe they feel like he projects into a guy who gives you that at the NBA level, but it’s probably the biggest gamble of the group
Official Pick: If he’s there, it’s Ellenson
The Names You Hear: Thon Maker, Damian Jones, Timothe Luwawu, Denzel Valentine
Based on my plan, this is where I want the Celts to take a gamble. You’ve addressed shooting/big with the previous two picks, I’m comfortable taking a guy here that is purely best available. Who knows, maybe one of the bigs above drops down, then I feel like it’s a great pick. Remember this is the range where we got Sullinger, but also Fab Melo, so obviously there are no guarantees. In this range you also could see the Celts look to the international market, maybe as a draft and stash option.
Thon Maker: 7’1 216 lbs 19 years old*
I have to admit, I am so in on Thon Maker at this spot it would make your head spin. After seeing his YouTube clips years ago my brain has convinced me he could be like a KG/KD/Lamar Odom hybrid. Yes, I know how utterly ridiculous that is, but I can’t help it, I have a soft spot for YouTube stars. In fact, he may be the one player I really want out of this entire exercise. It wouldn’t shock me if he was gone by 23, but if he’s available, you should absolutely take him here.
Damian Jones: 7’0 245 lbs 20 years old
Aside from Thon, this guy might be the leader in the clubhouse for me. He doesn’t rebound enough for me like he should, being 7ft, but everything else I like. I like his rim protection potential, I like that he played 3 years of SEC competition, and I like that he’s 7ft. He’s a guy that based on where you are picking, could be a steal. From what I’ve read, the biggest thing with him is his focus, but that’s something I can live with because if you take a big here, he probably isn’t going to need to contribute right away.
Timothe Luwawu: 6’6 220 lbs 20 years old
I think I’ve made myself clear how I feel about international prospects, but this late in the draft, I’m really open to this guy. You could draft and stash, but everything I’ve seen says he’s ready to at least be on a roster aka play minutes in Maine. I won’t sit here and tell you what I love about his game, because I’ve never seen him play, but the internet tells me he’s a pretty good on ball defender, and can stroke it. Again at this stage you’re looking at the best player available, and while 23 might be a little bit high, what’s the harm. There are whispers that he’ll need a strong environment to succeed, and guess who has that in spades.
Denzel Valentine: 6’5 220 lbs 22 years old
Do I think there is any chance in hell that Valentine drops to 23? I find it very hard to believe, but with the concerns over his injury history, he’s dropping down boards left and right. If he does in fact reach the Celts, it’s a no brainer. He has good size, he can shoot, he can pass, he can defend, you could argue he’s a complete player. He is similar to Buddy Hield in that he really took off his last two years in college, but of the guys in this slot, he’s probably the closest to NBA ready. If his injury turns out to bite you, so be it, but a talent like his available at 23 doesn’t happen often.
Official Pick: If Valentine is there, it’s him. If not, give me Thon Maker
Second Rd Picks
Really the only ones we should care about are 31 and 35. Anything lower is either getting traded or will be in Europe/cut. We could see guys like Diamond Stone, or some foreign guys like Ante Zizic or Juan Hernangomez (if he’s still there). In my opinion, the Celts move these picks as part of a package, but there’s always the chance you get lucky in the second round.
The rumors have already started, everyone seems to have a source that knows what the Celts are going to do, but I don’t buy any of it. Nobody knows. Well, maybe Woj, but he hasn’t tweeted one rumor so take everything with a grain of salt. Either way, this Draft could change the direction of this franchise in one way or another, and I don’t know how any of us are supposed to contain our excitement.
In Danny We Trust