BOSTON (CBS) — There is a whole lot of uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 NBA season, but one thing is set in stone: The NBA Draft is just three weeks away.
The annual summer event is set for Nov. 18, and should start a frantic stretch where teams will start to build their rosters for the upcoming season. The free agent frenzy is expected to follow shortly after the draft, and could reportedly start just two days after the draft festivities, with the season potentially starting in late December.
But for now, all we really know is that the draft is happening in three weeks. From a Celtics standpoint, we know that they are slated to make four selections — Nos. 14, 26 and 30 in the first round and No. 47 in the second round — but we also know that there is no way that Danny Ainge will add four more young players to an already crowded roster.
Adding one or two more bodies would make sense, especially if one of them could have an immediate impact. But trading some of those three first-round selections to trade up or out makes even more sense. Maybe Ainge will be able to jump into the Top 10, which would certainly help with the numbers crunch on the roster. But it’s more likely that he trades a few picks in what is being perceived as a weak draft class to get a selection or two down the road. The Celtics don’t have any owed picks in the future for the first time in a long, long, long, long time, which must be driving Ainge crazy.
But it’s really not a safe endeavor to try to get inside the mind of Danny Ainge. So we’ll leave that up to the mock drafters.
We’re starting this Mock Draft Roundup with The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, because he has mocked the Celtics trading up with their two picks at the end of the first round. We like it, and therefore, O’Connor gets to lead things off:
No. 14: RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers
This would be a classic Celtics selection: a former top-five high school recruit who slid down the rankings after one underwhelming season. Hampton is raw, but given Gordon Hayward’s uncertain future in Boston, Hampton could end up playing sooner rather than later as a spark plug scorer off the bench.
No. 17: Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
Trade: Celtics send picks Nos. 26 & 30 to Timberwolves for No. 17
The Celtics have lost out on several draft targets in recent years due to not finding the right trade partner: They wanted Tyler Herro in 2019 and Larry Nance Jr. in 2015, but didn’t end up with either. With two extra first-round picks this year, perhaps they’ll look to trade up for their man. I don’t know whether that’s Achiuwa, but he makes sense as an athletic big who could help them in future battles against Miami or Milwaukee.
No. 14: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
Bey will fit right into the wing-heavy, switchy lineups that have brought the Celtics so much recent success. He’s a knock-down 3-point shooter and has an NBA body at 6-8 with a 6-10 wingspan. At 21 years old, he should be able to contribute right away on a team that always seems to have at least one of its players injured. Bey will give Boston some much-needed depth and is a great pickup with the last pick in the lottery that they got from Memphis.
No 26: Leandro Bolmaro, SF, Argentina
Bolmaro is a good draft-and-stash candidate for the Celtics with their second first-round pick. An athletic slasher with good speed and finishing ability, Bolmaro could wreak havoc in transition when he matures, and could be a real offensive threat if his jumper, which looks good, continues to develop. He’s a versatile wing who can also make plays for others, making him a worthwhile gamble.
No. 30: Josh Green, SG, Arizona
Green has a long way to go in the shot creation and playmaking department, but he’s a tenacious defender with a 6-10 wingspan who can also knock down 3-pointers. He should be a terror in transition off the bat, and has the tools to develop into a well-rounded two-way player.
No. 14: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
Boston is in a good place at most positions. They have plenty of young high-end performers and two very good veterans in Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward. They have a glaring hole at center, but finding a player that can go from the draft to the rotation on a top tier team isn’t easy.
Kentucky guards usually have a lot more to their game than they were able to show at the NCAA level. Maxey is an aggressive player on both ends of the court and could be another piece to the Celtics young core. He’s a little raw, but Brad Stevens has proven that he and his staff can develop talent and this would give them another versatile piece with upside.
No. 26: Aleksej Pokuševski, C, Serbia
This is the second of Boston’s three first rounders. They’ll likely look to move up or move out of one or two of these spots, but if they stick around, expect them to look for draft and stash candidates, a polished NCAA player or some sort of specialist.
Pokuševski is a smooth shooting 7-footer with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, but there are questions about his toughness. Boston has three first round selections and will need to hide a player or two in Europe. Pokuševski could go higher than this, but he could also fall to the early second round. This is a perfect low-risk, high-reward situation for the Celtics, who already have a deep squad.
No. 30: Reggie Perry, PF, Mississippi State
By the time Boston selects here, they might not have any more team needs. As it stands, they could use an upgrade at center and some overall depth. Coach Brad Stevens likes to mix and match his rotations, so versatility is usually a focus.
The Celtics need bodies in the post. Perry has a developing inside/outside game and he was very productive in the SEC. He’s a little rough around the edges and needs to work on his decision making, but he’s a big time athlete with an NBA ready body. Boston needs more size if they hope to slow down players like Bam Adebayo in the future.
No. 14: Jalen Smith, C/PF, Maryland
Smith would give Boston a stretch 5, but teams sound equally drawn to his defensive activity and potential versatility to block shots and switch. Boston would be an ideal landing spot where Smith can focus strictly on spot-up shooting, finishing and defending.
No. 26: Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
The Celtics can afford to remain patient with McDaniels, a skilled forward who needs time to sharpen his execution and improve his motor. A best-case outcome shows a 6’9″ combo forward with three-point range and the ability create and score off the dribble.
No. 30: Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
It seems unlikely the Celtics will pick at No. 30 if they’ve already drafted players at Nos. 14 and 26. Regardless, Oturu has become a first-round name to watch based on his volume production and improved skills for scoring from the post, attacking closeouts and converting spot-up threes.
No. 14: Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
No. 26: Jahmius Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
No. 30: Devon Dotson, PG, Kansas