Are these two the smartest people in the NBA right now. That smirk from Brad Stevens says a lot. It screams that they know something that the rest of the NBA and fans just hasn’t figured out yet. Are they right? I have been super critical of the Celtics for staying pat the last two years at the deadline. After we saw what Cousins was worth it actually made me look at Danny Ainge really sideways. It felt like Boston could use and needed a big man, to me it was their missing piece to really contend. Then after the off season of last year the big signing was Al Horford. I thought it was a solid signing and then I saw how much they paid him and I spit out my OJ over breakfast. In my opinion Al Horford just isn’t worth 30 million a year. With the 3rd pick of the draft they select one of the biggest projects if not THE biggest project in the lottery in Jaylen Brown. He was really raw but you could see he had a lot of talent. High ceiling but I wasn’t sure if he would be able to get off the bottom floor. It reminded me of the Darko pick the Pistons made over decade ago. Both franchises were in a good position to take a big gamble on a relative unknown. We know now the Darko pick didn’t work but would the gamble of Jaylen Brown pay off?
As the season started to hit its grind part of the season I wasn’t impressed with Jaylen Brown. Partially due to the lack of minutes and that obviously contributed to his lack of production. He did show flashes of being able to compete at a high level but the question still remained, could he sustain it for an entire year and still have something left in the tank for the playoffs?
That question was answered pretty quickly. He came on late in the year where most rookies seem to be crawling to the finish line. He had a few games were he was a major reason why Boston won the game. His defense and his willingness to stick his nose in there and not back down from a challenge really impressed me. Only mistake he made was by tugging on Superman’s cape and his name was LeBron James. Although I love the confidence in this young man.
So now we are done with the year and we are looking at what each team needs to improve. Celtics win the lottery and are selecting number 1 in a pretty deep point guard draft. At first I was completely for trading the pick. I am a type that likes to win now and challenge for a title now and not wait four or five years down the line after a certain Superman has retired or on the decline. But lets look at what is out there and see what the options are for the Celtics at this draft and next years draft.
Draft Fultz out of Washington. He is looked as a pure scorer that didn’t really help Washington to get wins in the Pac12. I have compared him to Kevin Martin over the last 2 months. Someone that is nice to have but isn’t really going to win you a lot games. Seems like an ok fit but the question then is what do you do with IT? He is the scoring point guard already and he is coming off a career year. You could move Fultz to play the 6th man role and just tell him to score which may work or you can do the same to IT. Either way I don’t see this as a good solution.
Draft Lonzo Ball. Everyone who knocks this kid is doing it because of his overbearing father LaVar. I do believe Lonzo is a star in this league. His shot is good enough that he can hit open jump shots. His vision is great and will only get better. He’s a pass first PG that will allow his teammates to grow at a faster rate and improve not just their basketball IQ but grow their confidence up. Playing with a guy like him makes guys run a little harder or cut a little harder or set a better screen, its just fun to play with a guy that will get you the ball if your open. I like this option a lot. The snag is Lonzo wants to go to the Lakers who are drafting 2 and already refused to work out for the Celtics. Now the Celtics are put in a spot to where do they draft the better player or shy away because he won’t work out. Lonzo won’t sit out a season. He will play, he may not like it at first but winning cures all. I personally like this option.
Trade the pick With the knowledge that Lonzo wants to go to LA and the Lakers need for Lonzo, trading the pick would make a lot of sense here. A lot of so called experts are saying to trade the pick to try and reel in a Paul George or Jimmy Butler. I don’t think that is the right play anymore and I will go into detail of that in a little bit, be patient. Why not let the Lakers know you will draft ball unless they come up and trade to get the 1 pick. Possible trade packages would be the number 2 overall pick with Julius Randle. Celtics still picking in the top two and pick up a solid contributor in Randle. The Kings have two picks in the top 10, maybe they are willing to trade both picks to move up to 1. There is a lot of trading options that the Celtics could do. The Celtics need to maintain the course they are on and not go for the big homerun trade to try and make a splash.
What I think will happen is they will take Fultz with the pick. They will start him on the bench and see what he can do scoring wise as the primary scorer on the second unit. Whats key about that is Jaylen Brown ( you didn’t think I forgot about him did you? ) plays primary on the second unit so you get a glimpse of what your future holds with those two.
Where this gets very very very interesting is people are just glossing over the fact the Celtics get the Nets pick in next years draft as well. People are also glossing over the prospects in that draft as well. The Celtics two holes in their starting lineup is SF and a big. Yes they hope Jaylen Brown fills that void at the SF position but what if he doesn’t get better? There is nothing wrong with being a contributor that comes off the bench. There are 4 prospects that the Celtics are looking at in next years draft. Not only would it fill their needs and holes but it makes a lot of sense moving forward.
Next years prize prospect is a kid named Michael Porter. He’s a 6’10 SF that can score and defend and has a high basketball IQ. Currently he’s being compared to a Joe Johnson type player.
Mohamed Bamba 7′ C committed to go to Texas next year. He’s a great rim protector and rebounder that will be a presence inside that the Celtics are sorely lacking. Currently he’s being compared to a guy that was 20 years ahead of his time, Marcus Camby.
DeAndre Ayton 7′ 260 beast is going to Arizona. He’s shown touch around the rim with a solid post game that can protect the rim and play solid defense while rebound. Currently he’s being compared to David Robinson. For the younger generation, YouTube is your friend here.
And lastly the best Point Guard in the draft is 6’2 Collin Sexton of Alabama. I understand they won’t necessarily another point guard but he is the best at his position next year just in case Fultz doesn’t pan out or if the Celtics decide to move on from IT.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
Well its kinda simple. The Celtics are obviously in the mindset of waiting LeBron James out. They are betting on the fact that he will slow down in the next two or three years and when that time comes, they will be primed with their young stars to take over and become the next dynasty. Pulling the trigger and going to get a Jimmy Butler or a Paul George through a massive trade goes against what their logic is. Trading away young assets that will be 19 or 20 when they enter the league for a 28 or 29 superstar now that still can’t beat LeBron is counterproductive. They also have enough cap to go sign a max contract player this off season. Or they can wait and see how this years rookie pans out and see if IT is that guy. I’m not a fan of building my franchise around a 5’8 point guard that shoots first. But if they draft Fultz they can move him over to the shooting guard position and have options moving forward. If they draft Ball they are clearly saying that the IT experiment has ran its course. Boston is in a position that fans and GMs around the league envy and strive to reach. A contending team with a young core over the next two drafts to nurture and develop and still win games while your rebuilding and the cap flexibility to go get someone if need be. If Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens play this the right way like they have so far, they have the next dynasty on their hands and Boston will will hang a few more banners over the next decade.