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Six at Six: Six Options at the Sixth Pick for the Boston Celtics

Pick? Trade? What are Boston's best options at the sixth pick?

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

With a plethora of assets, Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics are in a perfect position to do whatever they want this offseason. But what are his options at the sixth pick? Here are the six most likely possibilities:

Dario Saric Croatia 20 SF/PF 6-10 223 6 8 9

I had the Boston Celtics selecting Dario Saric in my latest mock draft and that choice was met with some criticism. But feel assured that Danny Ainge knows everything there is to know about Saric considering he has spent the past two years scouting him. Saric has taken huge strides in his game over that time, improving on nearly all of his weaknesses. He took his defense to another level, showing potential as a highly instinctual weakside shot blocker and solid post defender, but most importantly, he became a more reliable shooter both on and off the dribble.

Saric, at only 20-years-old, led Cibona to the Adriatic League championship, where he was named Finals MVP after winning MVP for his regular season performance of 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Saric is a "do-it-all" forward who can score efficiently, create for teammates, and rebound the ball. He plays with energy and absolutely has a winner's mentality; I'd go as far to say that he is just as likely to become a "go-to scorer" as guys like Parker and Wiggins. He may not have the same upside, but he could just as easily become "the man."

But Dario Saric could possibly withdraw from this year's NBA Draft unless he is given a promise by a team in the top ten. Could the Celtics be that team? I think so, and so does Draft Express' Jon Givony, who recently told SB Nation this: "What I've been told is that if Saric is drafted six or seven in Boston or LA, he'll be in the NBA next year." With that said, if Saric's name is in the draft, don't be surprised if he's headed to Boston.

Aaron Gordon Arizona Fr. 18 SF/PF 6-9 220 5 9 7

The player with the highest defensive upside from this class is Aaron Gordon. Once he reaches his prime, he could potentially defend four positions in the NBA considering his unique combination of athleticism, length, lateral quickness, verticality, and strength. Drafting Gordon would allow the Celtics to switch on almost all pick-and-rolls since he could easily defend guards as well as he does forwards. And once he bulks up, there is a possibility that he'll be able to defend plenty of big men as well.

There are legitimate concerns about Aaron Gordon's shot -- he went 42.2% from the line this year -- but I believe those worries are a bit overrated. Gordon actually has solid form on his jumper and had some success shooting the three. Plus, he's only 18-years-old, and has plenty of time to become at least an average jumper shooter. Even if he doesn't, Gordon brings slashing and playmaking potential since he is a very good ball handler and passer for his position.

Doug McDermott Creighton Sr. 22 SF/PF 6-8 218 8 10 13

Drafting Doug McDermott sixth might be a little early, but he is the most accomplished player from this class and arguably the best shooter. McDermott accumulated 3,150 points over a four-year career at Creighton, in large part due to his slick three-point shooting, but also because of his versatile skills from mid-range and inside. His ball handling has improved each year and should continue to as he makes the jump to the NBA, which will allow him to absolutely wreck defenders closing out on his lethal three-pointer.

McDermott opened some eyes at the NBA combine with a 36.5-inch max vertical and respectable times in the agility drills. But McDermott still won't be a great individual defender, which is the chief concern surrounding him. Yet, many people tend to look only at his low steal and block totals instead of watching the film. McDermott is actually quite a good team defender by hitting all of his rotations and constantly remaining vocal with his teammates. While he'll never win any awards for his defense, he will likely win the respect of his coach considering his reliability and consistency.

Marcus Smart Oklahoma St. So. 20 PG/SG 6-4 220 9 6 8

If the Celtics are looking for a player that will attack the rim without abandon, then Marcus Smart might be their guy. He draws fouls at a high rate (9.9 FTA per 40) and has terrific touch around the rim. Smart might be a bit more a combo-guard, and he certainly needs to improve his jumper, but he has the tools to make a Dwyane Wade-type impact if he reaches his prime.

Drafting Smart would also allow the Celtics to keep their current starting roster intact. Essentially, Danny Ainge's hand wouldn't be forced by selecting a guard, since he could simply play Smart off the bench during his rookie season. If a wing were drafted, it seems likely that either Bradley or Green would have to be dealt, but in this scenario, the full season could be used to assess how to go about thing during the 2015 offseason.

Noah Vonleh Indiana Fr. 18 PF 6-10 247 7 7 5

At only 18-years-old, Noah Vonleh has already shown that he can be a prototypical stretch big man in the modern NBA. He has a fantastic stroke from outside and will surely develop three-point range, but it's his rebounding and length that has scouts drooling. With an enormous 88.25-inch wingspan, the native of Haverhill, Massachusetts, is able to sky over nearly anybody for rebounds. This also gives him an advantage on the post, though his footwork and skills are extremely raw at this point.

But with a handful of productive big men on Boston's roster, it's difficult to see Vonleh as a fit. He definitely has potential as a rim protector, but he's so far away from ever making an impact on that end. Even though he qualifies as a "safe" pick considering his incredible rebounding and stretch shooting abilities, the Celtics already have Kelly Olynyk who fits a similar role.


I'm having a difficult time finding a sixth player option for the Celtics if they decide to keep the pick. Julius Randle isn't a personnel fit considering his lack of rim protection potential, it's too soon for Gary Harris (and keeping Avery Bradley is a better choice anyway), and it'd be far too soon to "reach" on anyone like Jusuf Nurkic, Tyler Ennis, and Kristaps Porzingis. But that's why trading down makes some sense, so they could comfortably draft one of those names and acquire another asset in the process.

But if they stay at sixth that leaves one option, and perhaps the most likely one: a trade for a star player. With Kevin Love on the block, Boston remains a highly likely destination considering the amount of assets they have to use in a transaction. Players like Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk could be packaged with the pick, though Danny Ainge would prefer to avoid dealing quality young players in the deal altogether. Also consider the possibility that Memphis implodes and Marc Gasol becomes available in a trade. While it's premature to consider this scenario, things are certainly going south for the Grizzlies.

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