Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge speaks to reporters in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
WALTHAM – If the Celtics hold onto their first first-round pick, they have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to do.
Austin Ainge, director of player personnel, acknowledged Saturday during pre-draft workouts that they have a good sense of the players they want to pick. He just wouldn’t identify them.
The obvious candidates are Buddy Hield, Dragan Bender and Kris Dunn, with maybe a Jamal Murray getting some attention in discussions in the war room.
“We’ve been narrowing at this point. We have them in groups more than specific (players). Maybe for our first pick we have it narrowed to these three or four guys, the second group a little bigger – eight or 10, because you don’t know whose going to be there. You do your best at guessing and debating the groups,” Ainge said.
Ainge said Saturday that he hasn’t heard from Dunn’s camp as to when or if the Celtics will get a chance to see the two-time Big East defensive player of the year in person or what may come of Tuesday’s private (closed to media) get-together with Bender.
Identifying what the Celtics are going to do with their picks at No. 16 and 23 is a lot trickier because, as Ainge pointed out Saturday, not even the Celtics are sure what they’re going to do.
“It’s hard to guess what other teams are going to do, especially after the first couple of picks,” Ainge said. “It gets harder. All the media reports and discussions we’ve had with other teams, we still don’t know how the draft is going to go. Other teams [don’t know]. For instance, we don’t know who we’re going to take at 16, so how can I anticipate what another team is going to do? So these things are hard. So, you’ve just got to take the player you like the most and not outsmart yourself.
“Historically, those assumptions get proven wrong all the time. So, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I think last year was a case of that. There’s always surprises. We’re doing this all the time. How are you feeling? Let’s write it up. Let’s go to 20 names today, or 50 names, or 100 names, 10 names. We do those exercises all the time. It happens a lot.
“There are those types of discussions. Sometimes you do overall, sometimes you do by position. We’ll do guys that have certain skill sets – try to break ties. We were all in the office watching video late last night. Talking about it, trying to figure it out.”
The tie-breaker? Well, naturally it’s Danny Ainge, who has stockpiled three picks in the first round and five more in the second.
“For every pick range there’s guys we’re fighting between and trying to figure it out. We have a lot of picks,” Austin Ainge said.