BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics are done playing basketball, and that is a bit disappointing. But once again, the night of the NBA Draft Lottery is one that the Celtics will be paying close attention to, as it carries some pretty big ramifications for the franchise going forward.
The Celtics currently own a pair of picks in this summer’s draft; the L.A. Clippers’ pick at No. 20 and their own selection at No. 22. They could add as many as two more lottery picks to the mix Tuesday night, or they could walk away with nothing. The Celtics’ brass would like to meet somewhere in the middle.
Potential Celtics Picks
– Sacramento Pick (No. 1 overall protected)
– Memphis Pick (top-8 protected)
– Los Angeles Clippers Pick: No. 20
– Boston Pick: No. 22
The Celtics will receive the Sacramento Kings’ pick as long as it isn’t the No. 1 overall pick, completing their pre-draft swap with the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 1 overall pick two years ago. The Kings have the worst odds of any team to land that No. 1 pick, so the Celtics should be safe on that front. The pick has the highest odds of being the No. 14 overall selection at 95.2 percent, and it carries just a one percent chance at being the top pick. The Celtics would love to have that pick jump from Nos. 2-4, but there is only a 3.7 percent chance of that happening.
If the pick does become the top overall selection in June, Philadelphia would get the pick the Celtics would instead receive the 76ers’ selection at No. 24. That would be the worst-case scenario for Boston, and would be a disappointing conclusion to the Markelle Fultz-Jayson Tatum trade. At least there’s a very slim chance that happens.
If the Kings pick stays at No. 14, it would be the first pick announced on Tuesday night. If not, then the pick has jumped into the top-4 and the waiting game begins. The Celtics will be waiting around anyways, though they’d prefer if the Kings pick is the only one they receive Tuesday night.
The other pick in question is that of the Memphis Grizzlies, which Boston owns as part of the 2015 trade of Jeff Green. The pick is heavily protected and will only convey this year if it’s outside of the top-8 selections. The best the Celtics can do with the pick this summer is Nos. 9-12, which isn’t ideal in a weaker draft. Having four picks this year is probably the worst possible outcome for Boston.
While the Celtics don’t want the Memphis pick this year, neither do the Grizzlies (unless it’s No. 1, of course). Memphis is heading toward a rebuild, and would love to get rid of the pick owed to Boston now, since the protections get weaker and weaker as the years go on. The pick is only top-6 protected next summer before becoming unprotected in 2021, and will carry a lot more trade value for the Celtics as an unknown commodity over being pick No. 9-12 this summer. So you can see why the two teams are playing hot potato with that pick this year.
Heading into the lottery, there is a 26.2 percent chance that the Grizzlies pick lands in the top-4, and a 31.2 percent chance at it being the No. 8 selection. That leaves a 42.6 percent chance the Celtics will be picking in the 9-12 range on June 20.
If the Celtics are reallllllllly lucky Tuesday night, they’ll head into next month’s draft with the No. 2 overall pick and their two other selections in the early 20s, with the Memphis pick still in their back pocket. If they’re really unlucky, they’ll have four picks in the draft, with their best pick falling somewhere between No. 9-12 and a trio of selections in the 20s. That would be a real dud of a lottery night for the C’s.
This year’s draft lottery isn’t as sexy as years past, when the Celtics were flirting with the chance at landing the top pick, but it certainly is an important night for the franchise.