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.”