BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA regular season is winding down, and instead of preparing for the playoffs the Boston Celtics are looking ahead to the future.
The Celtics will patiently await for May 20 to see how the ping-pong balls bounce, but if they bounce as the standings dictate today the C’s would land the fourth overall pick in June’s NBA draft.
One mock draft has Kansas’ Joel Embiid going first overall to Milwaukee, followed by Duke’s Jabari Parker to Philadelphia and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins to Orlando. They have the Celtics drafting Australian guard Dante Exum fourth overall, and CSNNE’s Mike Gorman said a guard (a two or three) is Boston’s biggest need on Tuesday’s Toucher & Rich.
But just because that is their biggest need, and the fact the Celtics are set at power forward, doesn’t mean Danny Ainge will draft a guard — especially if Kentucky forward/center Julius Randle is still on the board.
“Danny has always been a believer of taking the best athlete on the board; set up your board and take the best athlete available, regardless of their position,” said Gorman. “As deep as the Celtics are at power forward, could Julius Randle end up a Celtic? That’s possible.”
While Embiid is near the top of most mock drafts, there is plenty concern after he missed the Jayhawks’ final six games of the season (including the Big 12 and NCAA Tournament) with a lingering back injury. The 7-foot freshman was a beast when he played, averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, but with the back issue, along with questions whether can be a force in the NBA, could lead to a little slide come June.
But Gorman says if Embiid slips to the Celtics when their turn comes to pick, Ainge will likely take the chance.
“If he’s on the board I think you have to take him,” said Gorman. “I don’t think it will take him that long [to develop]; I think you’ll know in a year or two whether he’ll be what you thought he could be. He gives every indication he can be a shot-blocker and rebounder, whether he develops an offensive game is what he has to learn.
“But you ask Brad Stevens what the needs of this team are and the first thing out of his mouth is rim protection,” added Gorman. “Embiid certainly gives you that. You can’t pass up an athletic 7-footer.”
Gorman also talks about the playoff picture in the NBA, and the collapse of the Indiana Pacers: