BOSTON (CBS) — It may seem like the Warriors just completed their sweep of the Cavaliers in the Finals, but the NBA offseason is already win full swing.
We’re just one week away from the 2018 NBA Draft, meaning the mock drafts are being churned out at a fever pitch. There isn’t much for these mockers to work with in regards to the Boston Celtics, as Danny Ainge has just the No. 27 pick heading into next Thursday’s spectacle. Ainge doesn’t even have a second-round selection, though that will likely change once the picks start flying off the board. The rumor mill has been fairly quiet in regards to the Celtics, minus the debunked rumor that they were looking to move up to draft Texas big man Mo Bamba. Ainge should have the ammo to climb up the board if he wants thanks to next year’s Sacramento Kings pick sitting in his back pocket, but he’s also in a pretty good situation to stay the course this draft if he wants.
The Celtics don’t have many holes at the moment and already have a great young core with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Many of the mock drafters are basing their Celtics pick on the uncertainty surrounding guards Marcus Smart (a restricted free agent this offseason) and the future of Terry Rozier (restricted next offseason). Free agency doesn’t begin until after the draft, but if the C’s think Smart will leave town for a richer contract this summer, they should have plenty of options to help fill the void.
Here’s who the pundits think the Celtics will take at No. 27 with just one week to go:
Kyle Boone, CBS Sports: De’Anthony Melton, PG, USC
Synopsis: The overall impact Melton can bring at every level of the game — snatching steals, blocking shots, pulling down rebounds, dishing out assistants and scoring points — makes you wonder why Melton won’t likely hear his name until late in the first round. The long and short is that he was held out of competition last season due to the FBI probe into college basketball, but regardless, his defensive presence gives Boston yet another talented two-way player who could be insurance should it let Marcus Smart walk this offseason.
Gary Parish, CBS Sports: Mitchell Robinson, C
Synopsis: Robinson made a mess of his college situation by enrolling at Western Kentucky before, just two weeks later, leaving campus and asking for a release. Then the 7-foot center never actually enrolled in another school — meaning he did not play competitive basketball anywhere this past season. That’s neither ideal nor smart. And it’s possibly a red flag. But Robinson remains a lottery talent. And it would be just like Celtics general manager Danny Ainge to land a prospect of this caliber late in the first round and then turn him over to Brad Stevens, who might be exactly the type of coach Robinson requires to reach his potential.
Sean Deveney, The Sporting News: Josh Okogie, SG/SF, Georgia Tech
Synopsis: Okogie is 6-4.5 with a 7-0 wingspan, the kind of versatile defensive wing the Celtics covet. He is not a very good finisher at the rim, but he measured a 42-inch vertical at the combine, giving scouts some hope that he could develop into a better player in traffic.
He is a solid 3-point shooter, too. If the Celtics lose Marcus Smart this summer, Okogie could be a replacement.
James Ham, NBC Sports: Donte Divincenzo, SG, Villanova
Synopsis: A fierce competitor, DiVincenzo has worked his way into the back end of the first round during the draft process. He can handle the ball, shoot it and has a knack for making the right play. Plus, he comes from a winning culture, which never hurts.
Jonathan Givony, ESPN (Insider Content, June 7): Donte Divincenzo, SG, Villanova
Synopsis: The Celtics have a tough decision in front of them with Marcus Smart entering free agency, and they might need to find a less expensive backcourt option to avoid luxury tax issues.
DiVincenzo put himself firmly on the NBA map with a memorable performance in the NCAA tournament championship game, and then continued his strong play at the combine. He’s a versatile guard who brings toughness and aggressiveness on both ends of the floor, as well as deep range from beyond the arc. The fact that he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be successful is attractive on a roster with quite a bit of playmaking prowess already in place.
Jeremy Woo, SI.com: Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
Synopsis: Boston is said to be looking for perimeter help at this spot, with Brunson among the players tied to this pick. Given the Celtics tend to favor cerebral, team-first players, he makes a lot of sense given the uncertainty over Terry Rozier’s long-term future. Brunson is essentially a can’t-miss role player at this spot. He’s mature, smart and skilled enough to hold his own, and he’s one of the draft’s elite players in terms of feel. He’ll have to work to overcome a gap in terms of athleticism, but his ability to post up other guards, space the floor and make reads could make him a useful player early in his career.
Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: Grayson Allen, SF, Duke
Synopsis: A versatile, high-energy wing who needs to refine his jump shot to fill the 3-and-D mold.
Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report: Grayson Allen, SF, Duke
Synopsis: Even if Boston brings back Marcus Smart, it could still use another shooter in the backcourt. Allen made over 80 triples in three straight seasons, and he improved each one as a playmaker. His competitive nature could even be appealing to general manager Danny Ainge.
Aran Smith, NBADraft.net: Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita St.
Synopsis: The Celtics are a stacked roster with a lot of depth and may end up looking to package this pick in a trade. Shamet plays a smart brand of basketball and shows the ability to knock down threes, two qualities that the Celtics are looking for in a draft pick. He may struggle to see the floor on a team that already has Kyrie Irving and battle tested Terry Rozier, but he would certainly be able to develop being around them and practicing against them.