BOSTON (CBS) — After months of speculation, trade rumors and mock drafts, the NBA Draft is finally here.
For the Celtics, the evening lacks the luster that came with the previous two draft nights when Danny Ainge owned the third overall pick. Boston isn’t slated to pick until No. 27 on Thursday night, and at the moment, that is their only selection.
Of course with Ainge at the helm, that could all change come 7pm. It’s rumored that the Celtics are hard at work trying to move up the draft board, and one report has Ainge trying to get inside the Top 10. Moving that high up could land the C’s an other solid young building block for their already stacked roster.
But wanting to move up and actually being able to move up are two different things. Ainge fell in love with Justise Winslow back in 2015 and reportedly offered the Charlotte Hornets four future first-round picks to move up (and six picks overall), but Michael Jordan rejected it. Instead, Ainge drafted Terry Rozier with the 16th pick and kept most of his draft bounty. Sometimes, the best moves are the ones GMs don’t make.
With draft day upon us, let’s take one last trip around the Mock Draft universe and round up all the potential picks for the Celtics at No. 27.
Gary Parrish, 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.
Reid Forgrave, CBS Sports: Mitchell Robinson, C
Synopsis: A home-run swing no matter where he’s taken. And when you take a big swing, you can often strike out. Robinson is a helluva physical specimen, a hugely athletic 7-footer who is one of the best shot-blockers in a draft that has a few stellar ones. Robinson is a liability on the offensive end for now, but with some time in the G-League, this project could become a late-first-round gem. Or he could become absolutely nothing. There are so many red flags here: The disastrous collegiate situation where he committed to and then pulled out of Western Kentucky; the dumb decision of pulling out of the NBA combine at the last minute. But there’s no question about his momentous physical abilities; he’s right up there with the elite big men of this draft. Here’s to the possibility of the Brad Stevens culture reaching Robinson and helping him mature as a player and a person.
Chris Stone, The Sporting News: Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati
Synopsis: Evans has reportedly worked out twice for the Celtics and fits the mold of what the franchise’s front office has looked for in recent years. At 6-6, he’s a versatile wing with 3-point shot and the ability to attack closeouts off the bounce.
Evans likely won’t be a star in the league, but he has the potential to be a multi-year rotation player.
Adam Himmelsbach, The Boston Globe: Kevin Huerter, G, Maryland
Synopsis: He’s fallen here because of a hand injury, but the Celtics gladly scoop up one of the draft’s best shooters.
David Aldridge, NBA.com: Omari Spellman, C/F, Villanova
Spellman may be more suited to play the four in the pros than five, but the positions are pretty interchangeable in Brad Stevens’ system. Boston has a seemingly endless supply of long guards and wings, and more ballhandlers than you can imagine, but the Cs are, relatively, thin behind Al Horford when it comes to bigs. Aron Baynes is due a nice payday this summer after giving Stevens quality minutes this season and could well price himself out of Boston’s budget. Thus, Spellman, another high-character kid from the Wildcats’ championship team. He worked diligently to improve his body and his shot in his one season on the Main Line, and both were on display during Villanova’s run to the title. Spellman shot 43 percent on threes and was Big East Freshman of the Year. Yes, this is all Boston needs on its roster—another teenager with massive upside.
Jeremy Woo, SI.com: Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
Synopsis: Boston is said to be looking for perimeter help at this spot, with Brunson and Grayson Allen 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.
Mike Schmitz, ESPN: De’Anthony Melton, G, USC
Synopsis: If he hadn’t been forced to sit out his entire sophomore season at USC, we might be talking about Melton as a top-20 pick in this year’s draft. Melton is a Swiss army knife of sorts who averaged a unique 7.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes at 6-foot-3 in his freshman season. He’s not a gifted shot creator or half-court scorer, so landing in a situation like Boston is ideal for his current value and long-term future.
Jonathan Givony, ESPN (Insider Content): De’Anthony Melton, G, USC
Synopsis: With Marcus Smart hitting restricted free agency, the Celtics could pursue another guard option here.
Melton looked to be on the verge of a breakout season for USC before the FBI’s investigation into recruiting shut him down indefinitely. His basketball IQ, ability to guard multiple positions, toughness and intangibles make him a prospect worth investing in.
USA Today: Josh Okogie, G, Georgia Tech
Synopsis: Okogie has good size and a great motor, but his offensive instincts can feel a little hectic at times. He should immediately be able to hold his own on the defensive end.
Aran Smith, HoopsHype.com: Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State
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.