Jan 26, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge looks on prior to the game against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Ainge has lots to consider before the June 23 draft. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

If you’re wondering what Danny Ainge is thinking heading into June 23, think long-term instead of short-term. 

Appearing on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final Sunday night, the president of basketball operations for the Celtics suggested that there’s a lot to consider when weighing trading the No. 3 pick or holding onto it for the best player available at that spot. 

“[The pick] certainly doesn’t have the same cachet in trade conversations, in trying to get better quicker, so that sets that back a little bit. Or we’d have to give up more [talent as part of a trade],” Ainge told the show. “I think that there are good players, if we end up using that draft pick. We’re excited about the potential players.”

So, it appears that Ainge is suggesting that making any trade to bring back a reasonable piece would involve trading one of his existing pieces, not necessarily a deal it sounds like he’s ready to make, at least not yet. 

“Right now, we’re trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out. I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Ainge told the show.  “We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year. And, at the same time, we want to build something that’s sustainable for a longer period of time.

“I think that that’s my job in the organization. I think that ownership would like to see something happen faster. I know my coaches would like to see something faster. I know my players want to see something faster. I’ve been in their positions and I get it. I want to see something faster, too. But I just have to protect us from doing something irrational, just to get a little bit better. If it’s something that gets us to be a true championship contender faster, then I think we’re all on board. As long as it’s a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit that sacrifices future assets.”

There’s been plenty of speculation as to whether the Celtics would trade the No. 3 to Philadelphia for a chance to take Providence College star Kris Dunn, after presumably taking either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. 

But if the Celtics hold onto the pick, it’s not likely that they go with Dunn. Instead, names like 7-footer Dragan Bender, sharp-shooter Jamaal Murray and scoring phenom Buddy Hield are in the mix.

Then Ainge made his biggest point, something to consider whether the Celtics draft a player, sign one in free agency or acquire a player this summer in a trade. 

“A player that is going to take time to develop or a player that may not come over to the NBA for a year or two, if we really believe that player’s the best player, we have to take him,” said Ainge. “We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesn’t fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting. We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance. There are just too many examples of really good players that the fans haven’t been excited about on draft day.

“Last year, I remember [Kristaps] Porzingis was drafted in New York and they were booing all over the place and you’re like, ‘Well, why would they be booing so much on Porzingis?’ When you draft players, I remember when I was in Phoenix and we drafted Steve Nash and we were booed. I remember being booed when Dan Majerle was drafted in Phoenix. You can’t base any of your decisions based on what the public thinks and based on what other people think you should do. You just really have to use our experience, our work, and our eyes, and we communicate all the time on what the best road to go is.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

ESPN basketball insider Jeff Goodman checked in with WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Mike Giardi this past weekend to talk about the Celtics’ draft options and what president of basketball operations Danny Ainge should do going forward.

ESPN college basketball expert Jeff Goodman joined Mike Giardi and Rob Bradford on Sunday to share some interesting thoughts on how the Celtics will utilize the third pick.

And though plenty of fans want Danny Ainge to trade for an established star, Goodman sees the C’s standing pat at No. 3 and taking Oklahoma sharpshooter Buddy Hield.

“Gun to my head, if it stays the way it is, I think he goes with Buddy Hield or [Kentucky freshman] Jamal Murray,” Goodman said. “I would go with Buddy Hield. I’m not overly objective about Buddy Hield. I’ve spent a ton of time with him. I went down to the Bahamas, spent some time with his family before the Final Four. I love the kid’s work ethic. I love how he’s developed at Oklahoma in four years. I love how he can really, really shoot the basketball, and how he can score off the bounce, and those are two things the Celtics need desperately. I think his upside is high because of how much he has gotten better. He can help the Celtics now because he is 22 years old. He’s high character.”

One player Goodman doesn’t see even considering Boston is Thunder star Kevin Durant.

“For all those fans thinking they’re getting Kevin Durant or an elite-level player in free agency, it’s not going to happen,” Goodman said. “I’d be shocked. Kevin Durant’s not coming here.”

Goodman also wouldn’t trade next year’s Nets pick, which could be top-five again, under any circumstances noting that next year’s draft is deep, led by potential franchise big man Harry Giles, who has committed to Duke.

“I wouldn’t trade next year’s pick,” he said. “Absolutely no way would I trade next year’s pick. Next year’s draft is absolutely loaded.”

Nor would Goodman trade up to No. 2 with the Lakers to get Brandon Ingram.

“I love Brandon Ingram, but I think Buddy Hield, for what you’d have to give up to go from 3 to 2, it’s not worth it,” he said. “It’s not worth giving up a ton.”

One other option, he said, would be trading Marcus Smart and using the third pick on Providence point guard Kris Dunn.

“He’s better than Marcus Smart,” Goodman said. “He’s faster. He’s got better court vision. He defends in the same manner, he’s just as tough. You can’t draft Kris Dunn, to me, unless you move Marcus Smart first. Because then you’d have three point guards that are very similar in Kris Dunn, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier — they’re all shot-challenged, athletic, tough, defensive-minded point guards.”

One player Goodman would trade all three of the team’s first-rounders this year to acquire is Sixers center Jahlil Okafor.

“He’s significantly better than anything they have down low in terms of attracting double teams, opening it up for others,” Goodman said. “He could be a good No. 2 guy.”

That said, Goodman counseled Celtics fans to remain patient, because the best long-term path to viability may be standing pat this year and next.

“Your No. 1 [player] you’re hoping is next year with the Nets pick,” he said. “You’re hoping to pick up two starters — this year’s No. 3, next year’s Nets pick, and then a third starter in free agency one of these two years. “

 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Wizards guard Bradley Beal (assuming he re-signs in Washington or somewhere else) or Jazz guard Gordon Hayward.

The case for Beal

Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal

At 6-foot-5, has the ideal length to be a shooting guard, the role he’s most prominently served in Washington next to John Wall. Average a team-leading and career-best 17.4 points per game over 55 games this past season. He led the Wizards in their 10 playoff games from 2015 when he averaged 23.4 points. He is a career 40 percent shooter from 3-point range, another huge plus in the Stevens system. He is still very, very young, turning only 23 in June.

The case against Beal

Not worth the trouble and way too complicated. To acquire Beal, the Celtics could either go out and spend for him as a restricted free agent, opening the door for the Wizards to match or use Bird rights on him. Beal’s spent his first four years trying to prove he is a part of Washington’s future. Beal is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1 because he and the team didn’t come to terms on a contract extension before a Nov. 2 deadline. “I want to be here. I don’t know,” Beal said, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t even know what I’m getting into right now. It’s like choosing colleges again. But I’m happy where I am. Hopefully, we can agree with each other this summer and we can get it done. But if not, it’s a business at the end of the day.”

The case for Hayward

Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward

Upward trend. Hayward, only 26, entered the NBA at the age of 20 after two only two years under Brad Stevens at Butler (nearly winning the NCAA championship with a half-court heave at the buzzer against Duke). In six years with the Jazz, his scoring has steadily increased each year, averaging 19.3 and 19.7 points in each of his last two seasons. He earned a four-year, $62.9 million deal after the 2013-14 season. He is in the third year of that deal. Obviously, he has an existing relationship with Stevens and knows exactly what the coach expects from him on offense. He’s also been durable, starting 77, 76 and 80 games in each of the last three seasons. He has become an elite small forward in the NBA and his contract didn’t faze him. 

The case against Hayward

Really splitting hairs here but his defense is not elite, at least not yet. The Celtics were very good defensively at times last year with a small lineup but not as strong as they got longer on the court. Hayward has made big strides and can more than hold his own defensively. If the Celtics decide to bring back Evan Turner, that would seem to be a lot of money tied up in two players who essentially do the same thing, playing small forward/shooting guard. Also, the final year of Hayward’s contract (2017-18) is a player option and he and agent Mark Bartelstein could look to break the bank, giving the Celtics really only one year with him under control. 

The verdict

Hayward has risen to become a true small forward/shooting guard hybrid in the elite Western Conference. His versatility and what he could do in Stevens’ system, along with a previous relationship with the head coach, would make this a no-brainer if the Celtics decide to pursue that option. 

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Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman

ESPN basketball insider Jeff Goodman checked in with WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Mike Giardi this past weekend to talk about the Celtics’ draft options and what president of basketball operations Danny Ainge should do going forward. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.

During his time on the show, Goodman provided brief scouting reports on the top players available in this year’s NBA draft. The Celtics have a whopping eight picks this year, including the third overall pick. Goodman said he was unsure of whom Ainge will select with the No. 3 pick, but he offered his best guess.

“Gun to my head, if it stays the way it is, I think he goes with Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray, one of those two. I would go with Buddy Hield,” Goodman said. “I’m not overly objective about Buddy Hield, I’ve spent a ton of time with him, I went down to the Bahamas and spent some time with his family before the Final Four. I just love the kid’s work ethic, I love how he’s developed at Oklahoma in four years, I love how he can really shoot the basketball, and now he can score off the bounce, and those are two things the Celtics need desperately. I think his upside is high because of how much he’s gotten better. He can help the Celtics now because he is 22 years old. He is high character. Lon Kruger, the Oklahoma head coach, told me multiple times [that] he’s the hardest worker he’s ever had in his career, and Lon’s been doing this for 35 years.

Added Goodman: “So those are the two guys that fit the most. Jamal Murray, the freshman at Kentucky who’s very good but not a great athlete, a really good shooter, a combo guard from Canada, had a great year this year. The X factor in all of this is, can you trade the pick?”

When asked about possible trade scenarios for Boston, Goodman was not in favor of Ainge trading up for the presumptive No. 2 pick, Duke power forward Brandon Ingram.

“I wouldn’t do it,” Goodman said. “I love Brandon Ingram, but what you’d have to give up to go from three to two is not worth it, it’s not worth giving up a ton, and I’m not even sure the Lakers would do it. To me, Brandon Ingram fits what the Lakers need desperately. They can play small-ball with him, he played the four this year at Duke. It’s just not going to happen.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

On the possibility of the Celtics trading up to get LSU power forward Ben Simmons: “I love Ben Simmons, but you’re not getting him. You’re not getting the No. 1 pick away from Philly. Ben Simmons has superstar potential. I don’t know if he’s going to be a superstar, I don’t know if he’s going to be one of the top five or so players in the league, but he’s just so unique in a sense that what he can do at 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10 athletically, seeing the floor. … I’ve seen this kid play for three or four years. He doesn’t shoot the ball at all yet, which is interesting because [with] most kids, if you say, ‘Hey, you can’t shoot, you can’t shoot, you can’t shoot,’ they try to show you they can shoot, right? This kid never tried that this year. All he did — and he told me this, he said, ‘Well, it’s a higher-percentage shot for me if I’m around the basket than if I take perimeter shots.’ So we don’t know if he can shoot or not. I’ve talked to several NBA guys, they say his shot is not broke, that they can fix it, or with repetition he’ll get better. … I’m not comparing him to LeBron [James]. He’s not going to be LeBron. But at 6-foot-10 he’s got the court vision of LeBron, he’s not the defender of LeBron. Ben Simmons, if you can get to No. 1, I would package all three of these picks and a player to get to No. 1 to get Ben Simmons.”

On trading next year’s draft picks to try to get Simmons or Ingram: “I wouldn’t trade next year’s pick. I would absolutely no way trade next year’s pick. Next year’s draft is loaded. … On paper, it’s stronger at the top. There’s a kid Harry Giles coming into Duke this year, he’s coming off another knee surgery. But you know, knee surgeries aren’t that big of a deal these days, and this one’s not as bad as the one his sophomore year where he tore his ACL/MCL. But Harry Giles is going into Duke, to me he can be a franchise player if he stays healthy, like a Chris Webber/Alonzo Mourning type. And next year’s draft has great point guards. There are scenarios here, I would not trade next year’s pick no matter what.”

On possibly trading Marcus Smart: “The other option here is, can you trade Marcus Smart? Can you get enough value for Marcus Smart, who they kind of tinkered with dealing last year at this time, and then draft Kris Dunn? Point guard from Providence, he’s had a couple of shoulder injuries, he’s a redshirt junior, been in college for four years, had a really good last two seasons when he was healthy. He’s better than Marcus Smart, he’s faster, he has better court vision, he defends in the same manner, he’s just as tough. You can’t draft Kris Dunn, to me, unless you moved Marcus Smart first, because then you’d have three point guards that are very similar in Kris Dunn, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier. They’re all shot-challenge, athletic, tough, defensive-minded point guards.”

On international power forward Dragan Bender: “[He’s] 7-foot-1, played for Maccabi Tel Aviv [in Israel], from Croatia, probably going to take some time [to develop], but certainly a guy that’s in the mix right now, with [Knick forward Kristaps] Porzingis’ way he played this year and his success in New York. Certainly it becomes more hip to take that international guy.”

On California small forward Jaylen Brown: “Kid out of Cal, big strong wing, in the Stanley Johnson mold, Stanley Johnson was a rookie in Detroit this year, not a great shooter. He fits because they need a big strong wing, right? But if you could have anything that they need right now it would be a younger Paul Pierce. Jaylen Brown’s got that body, but he doesn’t have the ability to score the ball, he doesn’t have the high IQ yet in terms of decision-making with the ball and driving to the basket. He was kind of a mess last year at Cal at times, but I think he’ll be in the mix.”

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier
Jeff Goodman calls Mike and Rob to drop a ton of knowledge on the upcoming NBA Draft and some of the names available. Sorry fans - he doesn't see Kevin Durant or any big-named free agents coming to Boston and thinks they'll end up making the third pick this season. He also says that there is NO WAY he would trade next year's Brooklyn pick because the draft will be very deep. He discusses the chances of trading with Philly for Okafor, why he like Kris Dunn so much and much more.

[0:06:01] ... to be afraid just player peace is helping the actor would like Chris Webber Alonzo Mourning type. That's. Yes I I I just think in next year's draft has great point guards I mean there are scenarios here ...
[0:09:23] ... play right way and that's not Boston right now would Marcus Martin Isiah Thomas and terrorist here and a lot of similar guys there I mean listen you Avery Bradley. He's kind of a combo guard ...
[0:14:13] ... players by a lot of good players even great players you need Isiah Thomas to beef up border fourth best player. And when he becomes back. They you've got a team that can really make some ...
[0:19:22] ... care what you do what you gotta do something they can't be Amir Johnson. And is that a mistake you know is is going and I'll just sort out there cause I expect an opt out. ...






Austin Ainge speaks to reporters Wednesday in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Austin Ainge speaks to reporters Wednesday in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WALTHAM – A show of hands: Who remembers, without Googling, when John Stockton was taken in the 1984 draft? 

If you answered 16th, you win the prize for best understanding where we’re going with the following premise. As much as will be made of the significance of the third overall pick in the NBA (and understandably so), the Celtics also own the 16th and 23rd picks in the June 23 restocking exercise called the NBA draft. 

In that ’84 draft, everyone remembers eventual hall of famers Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Rockets, Michael Jordan third to the Bulls and Charles Barkley fifth to the Sixers. But it was another future hall of famer, in Stockton, who slipped through the cracks and fell to the Jazz at 16.  

There was a lot of talk this week from the Celtics about why those second two first-round picks shouldn’t be forgotten. One high-ranking executive told me, “We are in a great position. The Nets did the losing for us to get the third overall pick and we have Dallas’ and our own. This should be a lot of fun for Danny.” 

Indeed, the Celtics president of basketball operations and son, Austin, the director of player personnel, will not only have multiple scenarios for No. 3 but 16 and 23 as well. 

“Obviously, you have to prepare for the entire draft, and we do that with every draft. It doesn’t really change that much for our preparation,” Austin Ainge said. “But obviously, toward the top of draft, it usually has a bigger impact on your franchise so you try to focus a lot on those guys. But there are franchise that have been drafted in every range and that’s the benefit of having multiple picks, multiple swings at the bat.

“It’s all in context. You have their high school career, their college career, their workouts, their measurements, some of the background information we collect. It all just adds up so it’s all just small bits of information adding together. Can’t let one bit sway everything and certainly a workout won’t but it helps us.

“I think that’s the case in every draft, and it’s not that they end up being the same, it’s just hard for us to tell. We always say six of these next 40 picks are going to end up being really good players. It’s just that we don’t know which ones. It’s hard.”

Since 1970, the Celtics have picked 16th three times, Troy Bell (2003), Lucas Nogueira (2013) and Terry Rozier (2015). Rozier is the only one to have played with the Celtics. In that span, Boston has chosen 23rd twice, in back-to-back years, when they took Charles Bradley in 1981 and Darren Tillis in ’82. 

“The higher the draft pick, you have a better chance,” Austin Ainge added. “There’s going to be really good players available at 16, there’s going to be really good players available at 23. It’s just harder to identify in that range. It’s a little harder. We’re going to work really hard to do the best we can.”

The guard-rich Celtics certainly don’t figure to be in need of a guard, and they weren’t last year. But that didn’t keep them from taking Rozier and Hunter. The case could be the same this year if they feel a particular guard out of a good program could help them win.

On guard: Keep a very close eye on Ryan Arcidiacono. The senior out of Villanova who flipped the title-winning assist to Kris Jenkins at the buzzer in Houston worked out this week for the Pacers and has many of the same characteristics that Stockton had but – at 6-foot-3 has a bigger frame. He was not an NBA prospect before this season but then he led Villanova to another 30-win season and shined in the tournament. He’s got all of the intangibles (toughness, great internal clock, intelligence, leadership) that someone like Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens look for. He led a high-profile program to a national title and handled himself in a way that causes NBA GMs to take notice. The team that takes a chance on him could wind up with a hidden treasure.

“Toughness is a big part of our program,” Austin Ainge said. “We value that so putting them in strenuous situations and see how they react matters.”

The Sixers are such a team in desperate need of a point guard and while they certainly love the elite skill of Providence’s Kris Dunn, Arcidiacono is a player who went up against him in the Big East. Archie was 5-1 head-to-head against Dunn. One player can’t turn everything around overnight but a guy like Arcidiacono, who played up the Main Line from Wells Fargo Center, could certainly give the Sixers a more professional look. 

The Celtics took a close look at Arcidiacono’s backcourt teammate Josh Hart this week. The junior out of Nova had an uneven shooting performance at the Combine in Chicago but is still regarded as an NBA prospect. He’s said many times that’s he’s 50-50 as to whether he might commit to the draft. He tweeted Saturday that he still hadn’t made up his mind but it’s sounding more and more like he’ll return to the Main Line. 

The same could be said for many of the prospects that work out early in the pre-draft process for NBA teams. Hart, Sophomore Abdul-Malik Abu (N.C. State), Sophomore Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Junior DeAndre Bembry (St. Joe’s) are all underclassmen who have until this Wednesday to make up their mind to stay in or go back to school. 

“They’re just here for feedback so we’ve been in communication with their college coaches, talk to them a little bit, try to give them some honest opinions, try to help them make them make their decisions. Big decision for those kids,” Austin Ainge said. 

Abu is a 6-foot-8 forward who played with the Ainge family at Marblehead High before transferring to Kimball Union prep and moving onto N.C. State. 

“Malik’s a great kid. He played on my little brother’s high school team,” Austin Ainge said. “I’ve seen him play a lot, play a lot. He’s a great kid, really athletic, still a little raw skill-wise. He’s made improvements on his body and his game in his two years at N.C. State. He’s got a tough decision to make.

“As with all the kids, we have a pick in just about every range. We’ve been able to get a lot of these kids in. And we targeted them. We got a lot of kids in that we know will probably go back to school. It just helps in our evaluation for the future.”

Danny Workout Warrior: The Celtics had 12 more players in for workouts on Wednesday. All the workouts can get repetitive which is why Danny Ainge gets personally involved. 

“He’s out there. He likes to interact with them a little bit to try and get a feel for them,” Austin said of dad. “As much as strategy, I think he’s kind of bored and having fun as well.

“We’ll have few more [workout players] than normal but that has more to do with the rule change than the number of picks we have. We always try to work out guys in every range, partly because we don’t know the range yet. Top 10 or 15 might be kind of vaguely in a range but then after that, it’s really all over the place. We have more guys coming in but that’s more due to the rule change, and the fact that we they will come in with the number of picks we have.”

Going Big: Dragan Bender is not the only 7-footer that has the interest of the Celtics. Chinese big man Zhou Qi (Joe chee) is 7-foot-1 and he came to Waltham this week to work out. While not as advanced physically or well known as the Croatian 18-year-old, Qi was someone who piqued the interest of Austin. 

“I went to China and saw him play. We’ve known about him for a couple of years,” Ainge said. “He’s probably the third or fourth-most recognized name in Chinese basketball so he’s a known commodity. But it was great to have him in today and have him work out. He doesn’t speak a ton of English. I compare him to kind of when I took Spanish I in junior high, kind of that level of English. But he knew basketball stuff real easily and picked it up quickly.

“He’s so long. He’s got a good touch, just real skinny still.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick on Oklahoma scorer Buddy Hield or Cal forward Jaylen Brown

The case for Hield

Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield

Did you watch a second of college basketball this season? Hield was a monster, adding dribble penetration and increased range to his explosive offensive game. He averaged 25 points a game and shot .457 from 3-point territory. His shot chart is off the charts, with above-average production from everywhere on the floor except the left baseline. As a senior, he’s more polished than most of the teens and freshmen coming out this year. And he demonstrated an ability to hit big, clutch shots throughout his senior year, leading the Sooners to the Final Four, where they lost to Villanova, the eventual champs.

The case against Hield

The senior thing actually works against him among NBA types concerned that he’s already at or near his ceiling. There are also legitimate questions about his foot speed and ability to create his own shot at the next level. He’s also considered a subpar defender, though Brad Stevens could change that. The biggest knock on Hield is that he’s a finished product with a not of room to grow, and in the NBA everyone loves the ability to daydream about best-case scenario projections.

The case for Brown

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown

Brown is in many ways the opposite of Hield: He’s a raw athlete with explosive leaping ability, but an unpolished offensive game. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder could excel in one of Stevens’ small-ball lineups as an undersized but athletic power forward who creates matchup problems on both ends while defending multiple positions. He’s a tremendous finisher on the break and at the rim, and a good rebounder for his size. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a game as a freshman.

The case against Brown

His offense is limited. He shot just .294 on 3-pointers and .654 on free throws. He also disappeared down the stretch, shooting a combined 5-for-29 in his conference tournament and NCAA tourney games. Cal was a one-and-done against Hawaii in the Big Dance, and Brown finished his career with just four points and two rebounds while committing seven turnovers. He’s got a little bit of Jared Sullinger to his offensive game in that he’ll pound the ball and take contested jumpers.

The verdict

Brown may be more athletic and projectable, but Hield has the potential to be a legit NBA scorer with unlimited range. We’ll take polish over potential.

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Blog Author: 
John Tomase

As the days pass by leading up to this year’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice” …

Today: Trading for Jahlil Okafor, using the No. 3 pick as the primary chip, or drafting Dragan Bender.

OkaforThe case for Okafor

As the No. 3 overall pick a year ago, the Sixers forward established himself as a legitimate, top-notch NBA big man. At just 20 years old, Okafor was named to the NBA All-Rookie team, having averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds per game, while playing 30 minutes per contest. His the legitimate, go-to, 7-footer the Celtics crave.

The case against Okafor

Google “Okafor, trouble” and you’ll get a flurry of posts using words like “trouble,” and “off-court incident.” He also isn’t the kind of rebounder the Celtics might want from their presence in the paint.

BenderThe case for Bender

He is 7-foot-1, just 18 years old, and is filled with the kind of potential you don’t get every year in the NBA Draft. Bender is mobile and athletic for his size, showing good ability to get off, and down, the floor. Upside. Upside. Upside. NBADraft.net offers a detailed breakdown of what we’re talking about.

The case against Bender

When you hit the Draft after playing in just 36 games in the Israeli Pro League, averaging only 12.3 minutes per game, that doesn’t fill anybody with a flurry of confidence. (For some video on Bender, click here.)

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Blog Author: 
WEEI

Brandon Ingram looks like the No. 2 pick. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

Brandon Ingram looks like the No. 2 pick. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

According to a story on Bleacher Report, the Lakers will seriously entertain offers for the No. 2 pick in the draft, which is widely expected to be Duke shooter Brandon Ingram. Such a move could seriously impact the Celtics.

If Los Angeles deals the No. 2 pick, that would make the Celtics’ third pick that much less valuable. If the Philadelphia 76ers select LSU’s Ben Simmons first overall, as expected, the Lakers hold the ticket for Ingram. The talent dropoff is considered steep after those two and the Celtics own first crack at the best of the rest.

Still, if a club is willing to listen on a player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George, or Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, the second pick will be a lot more enticing than the third.

The Lakers, according to the report, are willing to listen on the pick because they want to improve sooner rather than later, particularly with the 76ers holding their first-round pick next year if it falls outside the top three.

From the story:

Still, the Lakers will actively explore trading the pick. They want to get better as soon as possible—in part to make sure Philadelphia doesn’t get too good of a pick next year when the Lakers’ first-rounder conveys to the 76ers if it’s outside the top three. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is also seeking a better blend of youth and experience on the roster.

But it’s an open question if the Lakers can find a star another club is willing to send away. Trading away the likes of Paul George or Jimmy Butler would be hard-to-explain steps back for the Pacers or Bulls. And with George Karl gone and a new arena to open, the Kings aren’t likely to move DeMarcus Cousins.

It’s also valid to wonder why the Lakers would want to give up young assets they have under cost-controlled contracts that would fit perfectly with massive incoming free-agent deals.

So while nothing is definite with any of these picks, it’s worth noting that the Celtics may soon have some competition on the trade front.

Blog Author: 
WEEI