How Will The Celtics Approach The NBA Draft In 2021?
Celtics draft : Last week, the Boston Celtics traded their lone first-round pick and Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder, leaving president of basketball operations Brad Stevens with just one pick in the second round.
So, what does this indicate for Boston’s NBA Draft strategy in 2021?
Boston lost the No. 16 overall pick, but that was a foregone conclusion going into the pre-draft process.
The Celtics don’t have room on their roster for another mid-first-round pick right now.
The idea is to make Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s lives simpler, and another draught pick won’t do it right away.
With that in mind, Boston’s willingness to deal Summer Walker for the No. 16 pick last week made sense.
By parting ways with that deal, Stevens will have more financial freedom in the future, allowing him to enhance the Celtics’ supporting cast.
Stevens and the rest of the front office now have a new perspective on the NBA Draft Combine and G League Elite Camp.
Late-lottery and mid-first-round prospects are no longer the emphasis.
While Boston will continue to monitor players in that category, it will pay special attention to second-round prospects and undrafted free agents.
The Celtics will need to fill two two-way slots for the upcoming season, in addition to the No. 45 pick, given that Tremont Waters and Tacko Fall have completed the maximum amount of time on their respective two-way contracts.
Boston will most likely invite potential two-way players to training camp and summer league before committing to those positions.
While this year’s rookie class has a lot more buzz than the 2020 bunch, most of it is centred at the top.
Despite the lack of star potential in the 2020 class, depth was a strength, and the 2021 class has the exact opposite profile.
That will make things more difficult for the Celtics, but dealing with second-round picks and undrafted free agents isn’t life or death.
A few players stood out early at the NBA Draft Combine, and the Celtics should keep an eye on them. Let’s take a look at a couple of those possibilities.
Providence’s David Duke Jr. is a guard.
Duke is currently projected to go somewhere between picks 35 and 45, but his stock could climb following the NBA Draft Combine.
He stood 6-foot-5 and had a wingspan of just under 6-foot-9. Every NBA team desires a point guard with size, length, and athleticism, and Duke obviously fits that profile.
He can score and sees the floor well enough to lead the offence, and his body control in transition pairs well with his agility.
Duke shot 40% during his past two seasons at Providence, but his shot form could use some work because it’s a little stiff right now.
Regardless of the latter point, his shooting is projectable, which is a plus.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Duke is a large point guard who can create on the offensive end and defends well.
Yes, he’s a 21-year-old prospect, but he has a bigger ceiling than some of his second-round peers.
Utah State University’s Neemias Queta is in charge of the Center.
When Queta’s measurables arrived at the draught combine on Wednesday morning, they were eye-popping.
With a wingspan of 7-foot-4 and a height of 6-foot-11.25 without shoes, he was the tallest athlete in the class.
Queta’s size is fascinating, and his potential will pique the interest of many NBA front offices.
For his stature, he’s an excellent passer who showed some intriguing scoring glimpses from the block during his time at Utah State.
His defensive presence is a huge benefit. Even though Queta is still a young player, he already has a solid feel for the game on the defensive end, which could translate well to the NBA.
He’s one of the more interesting project choices for this year’s second round.
Arizona State’s Josh Christopher is a winger.
Christopher is almost certainly off the board at No. 45, but if he does slip, he’d be a second-round steal.
He’s a scorer, plain and simple. If he can improve his shot, he’ll be a tremendous menace with the ball, but his off-ball performance is a problem.
His lone season at Arizona State was a letdown, but his skill set is solid enough to improve upon.
Keep an eye on Christopher if he falls into the mid-second round, which is a possibility given his all-around game. Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp is a winger.
Wieskamp is a big winger who can fire the puck with the best of them. The 21-year-old hit 46.2 percent of his 3-pointers in his final season at Iowa, averaging 5.1 attempts per game.
He displayed his athleticism at the combine on Tuesday, posting a 42-inch max vertical jump with the first group.
Wieskamp will almost certainly be a second-round lock, and a good one at that, if he continues to impress during his pre-draft process.
He’d be a great player for Boston to develop for a year in Maine before deploying him as a shooting wing with size to help spread the floor.
Wings, Austin Reaves, Oklahoma
During the combine’s first day of on-court work, Reaves wowed me.
His defensive play was strong, and his shooting was noticeable among the first few groups.
His shot’s adaptability was impressive, as he didn’t miss a beat on or off the ball.
Many prospects struggle with this, but Reaves appears to already possess the perimeter versatility that many organisations seek.
He’s my greatest riser early in the week among all combine candidates, and if that trend continues, he won’t be available when Boston is on the clock at 45.
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