The Boston Celtics enter the 2018 NBA Draft Thursday with the 27th overall pick.
The Celtics are running out of their treasure trove of assets they have accumulated, specifically in picks. The amazing trade that GM Danny Ainge swung with the Brooklyn Nets finally seems to have run its course, yielding the C’s young studs Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and superstar Kyrie Irving. Although they only have one pick this year, next year they could get their own pick plus three more first rounders: the Sacramento Kings pick (via Philadelphia) which is top-1 protected, the Memphis Grizzlies pick which is top-8 protected, and the Los Angeles Clippers pick which is top-14 protected. If Sacramento wins the lottery, the Celtics will receive the Philadelphia 76ers first rounder. The Celtics still have a good amount of draft capital and the ammunition to trade up in the draft, but where will they go?
DeAndre Ayton: I have long said that this would be the only guy I would trade up for personally. With freakish athleticism and the ability to stretch the floor, there would be zero pressure in Boston for Ayton with the Celtics’ lineup already set, he would be able to come off the bench. Trading for Ayton will cost an arm and a leg, but if the Celtics are sure he could be a generational talent, Ainge won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
Luka Doncic: The Celtics have been interested in the Euro League MVP as far back as months ago. Doncic is exactly what coach Brad Stevens would want in a player, able to shoot and defend well in a scheme. The one knock on him is that he doesn’t have the athleticism of the other draftees. He has also been essentially playing basketball constantly for the last 18 months, which may help him adjust to the NBA schedule easier and avoid the ‘rookie wall.’
Donte DiVincenzo: The Villanova guard was the story of the 2018 NCAA Final Four, leading his team off the bench, and putting away Michigan in the title game. He has been flying up draft boards after initially pegged as a second rounder, but Villanova coach Jay Wright said that the Celtics were the first ones who came calling. Wright says ““[Danny Ainge] might’ve been the first guy I talked to about Donte. They saw something in him early. They liked his competitiveness and ability to shoot.”
De’Anthony Melton: The USC product sat out this past year due to the FBI investigation at USC. The 6’4” guard is not known as a gifted scorer, but in his freshman season averaged 7.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. He could be the Marcus Smart replacement should the Celtics be unable to come to terms with him.
As of now, most drafts have the Celtics selecting at 27, and drafting Melton. But Danny Ainge has never hesitated on wheeling and dealing. The Celtics almost blew up their entire rebuild a couple of years ago by offering an absurd six draft picks to move up in the draft in order to select F Justise Winslow. The Sacramento/Philly pick is very intriguing, but if the Kings win the lottery the Celtics will be forced to take what is likely to be a late first rounder in Philly’s pick. The Celtics should want to move up in the draft. They have too many picks in the coming years. As it is now, Marcus Morris is worried about getting minutes. The Celtics are probably just looking for a player to draft and stash overseas, so moving up and getting Doncic might make sense. Either way, draft night is sure to be interesting.