I wrote back at the trade deadline how I believed GM’s are afraid to trade with the Celtics, most notably, due to how Danny Ainge was seen as fleecing the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns, respectively.
However, the most recent trade with the Philadelphia 76ers leaves me perplexed.
The Boston Celtics have never owned the #1 draft pick in the NBA Draft, which they have being vying for like Gollum and his precious… and they gave it away! For the third pick this year and a first round pick in 2018.
The Celtics Brass and its fan base were left sitting as the third wheel on an awkward date at the end of last year’s lottery night and the reaction of selection of Jaylen Brown at #3 on draft night was less than receptive.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) June 23, 2020
Brown played in 78-games, started in twenty, averaged 17.4-minutes, 2.8 Boards, 6.6-Points and showed his tremendous athleticism and upside. If we could only recreate that fan base reaction a year later.
Now, not all of Danny Ainge’s picks have been, how should I say, hit out of the ballpark for home runs, heck, even walk-off singles. Fab Melo (Rest In Peace) and James Young, who the Celtics declined to pick up the 2017-18 Club option come to mind, among others. So, it remains curious why after landing the first ever first round pick in franchise history they would let it go for less than a king’s ransom.
There are rumors that Markelle Fultz’s workout did not overly impress anyone, not just in Boston. Moreover, there have been many comparisons, depending on whom and what you read, that there is not great separation in draft spots between one and four.
I get it, the Celtics have a plethora of guards and if they are looking to keep Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas beyond next year and like Terry Rozier, who can help them at point; I get that Fultz and Lonzo Ball (assuming he goes to the Lakers) do not seem that attractive.
However, wouldn’t a #1 pick be more enticing as trade bait than a #3, especially if you believe that Celtics are in the hunt for a Jimmy Butler or Paul George or being overly optimistic, Anthony Davis.
So Now What?
If the Boston Celtics indeed actually keep the third pick, Josh Jackson out of Kansas, who declined to work out for the Celtics, and Jayson Tatum out of Duke seem to make the most sense.
Josh Jackson, similar to Jaylen Brown, can take it to the basket and works well in a high-octane up-and-down the court offense and can get up. He is also an aggressive defender, something that was lacking greatly last year for the Celtics despite having the same team that was fourth in the league in defensive rating a year previously.
However, his jump shot is similar to Rajon Rondo, he really doesn’t have one. This will not help spread the floor, allowing more operating room for Isaiah Thomas.
Tatum on the other can shoot from downtown, and is by-far-and-away a better isolation player. This is also something the Celtics lacked last year, someone who could make their own shot, especially in the fourth quarter, not named Thomas.
That’s a lot of treys: NBA-bound and former Duke star Jayson Tatum showing off his range ahead of the draft (📹:drewhanlen/IG) pic.twitter.com/NU6fhyChQ5
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 23, 2020
Once again, the Celtics have a lot of available cash to land a quality player at max money. Gordon Hayward seems to be a front-runner, due to his past relationship with Brad Stevens and his time at Butler. The two have never shied away from their mutual affection.
“He’s such a good coach and such a great guy and mentor to me.” - Gordon Hayward on Brad Stevens
His 2017 averages of 21.9-Points, 5.4 Boards and 3.5-Assists a game would be most welcomed. The one thing he could provide to the Celtics right away is consistency.
Blake Griffin has been rumored to be on the Celtics radar as well. He, unlike many others on the Celtics board, actually plays the position of power forward, where the Celtics have virtually no depth. While one would like his rebounding tenacity and his shot blocking capability, he has not played a full season without injury the last three years. This is a huge concern for a player you would have to give max money too.
Anthony Davis is one of those players who does a little bit of everything. Last year he averaged 28-points a game and 11.8-Boards, along with 2.2 Blocks. He marks off every check mark for the Celtics: Rebounding, Rim Protector, Consistent Second Scorer, young and under contract.
Davis is 24, has four years left on his contract and a franchise player. Unfortunately, despite his herculean efforts, the Pelicans finished 10th in the Western Conference, 33-games back. Even with the acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins and with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs sitting atop the conference, his chance to the see the NBA finals is but a dream.
The Celtics have numerous first round picks the next few years to allow the New Orleans Pelicans to rebuild for the future. Sounds like a win-win. He is the one player, save for Kevin Durant and Paul George that might give pause to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I mean isn’t this the stuff of #1 draft picks, even a multiple of them, you know, the stash Danny has been accumulating?
More realistically would be the acquisition of Jimmy Butler for the #3 pick along with Jae Crowder and other considerations. However, the question is can you get Jimmy Butler to resign beyond the 2019 season. This would at least give opponents, such as the Cavs, the team the Celtics are chasing in the Eastern Conference to examine how they should retool.
The Celtics have been promising fireworks for some time, and picks are what if’s. I am worried Danny Ainge is running out of time and needs to heed the advice of Kenny Rogers, “Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.”
He’s been holding them long enough. Danny needs to take his stock pile of assets and make that trade with the 3rd pick just as he did in 2007 and change the rhetorical question In Danny We Trust? into an emphatic “In Danny We Trust!”
Can you imagine a starting five of Thomas, Bradley, Hayward, Al Horford and Davis?