With four picks in the 2015 NBA Draft and tons of other ammo, the Boston Celtics are in a position to make significant moves on draft night. There are plenty of prospects in this year's deep class that fill their glaring holes, such as rim protection, three-point shooting, and rebounding. Listed below are the top 30 prospects on my Celtics-specific draft board.
Please note that this is just how I'd rank the prospects if I were GMing the Celtics. Click here to view my latest team-agnostic big board.
The Big Five
1. Karl Towns, Big, Kentucky: It's fun to dream, but the Celtics have no shot at him.
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He'd immediately help Boston's rim protection, but it's his ability to switch on pick-and-rolls and defend virtually any position that will make him a yearly candidate for the All-Defensive teams. Offensively, WCS is limited, but he'll excel in transition and the pick-and-roll.
3. Justise Winslow, Wing, Duke: The Celtics probably won't be able to sign Jimmy Butler in free agency, so Winslow could be the next best thing. They'd have to make a major trade-up to acquire him, since he probably wont slip past the fifth or sixth pick. Winslow is the best wing defender in this draft and adds complementary skills on offense, with the potential to be much more.
4. Mario Hezonja, Wing, Croatia: Hezonja could very well end up being the best scorer in this draft. He's an assassin shooter and has a psychotic attitude that Danny Ainge has spoken fondly of in the past; often times the true greats are all a little crazy.
5. Kristaps Porzingis, Big, Latvia: If you've been reading me on CelticsBlog since pre-draft 2014, you're already familiar with Porzingis. But if you're not, click here to see my full profile of him that'll be included in my 2015 NBA Draft Guide. Porzingis is a sharpshooting big man that can also block shots on the other end. The Celtics reportedly had interest in him with the 17th pick last summer.
It's Not Happening
6. Jahlil Okafor, Big, Duke
7. D'Angelo Russell, Guard, Ohio State
8. Emmanuel Mudiay, Guard, DR Congo
All three of these players will likely go in the top five, so the Celtics have a slim chance of acquiring them, but I'm not in love with any of them for Boston anyway. Mudiay is redundant with Smart on the roster; Russell could be a star, but there are better plans of attack this summer than starting with him; and Okafor will be an All-Star for 10-plus years, but I have my personal preferences that you can read about here.
9. Stanley Johnson, Wing, Arizona: Johnson is basically the consolation prize if the Celtics can't get Winslow or Hezonja. He's similar to Winslow due to his versatile defense, and he has good scoring instincts like Hezonja does. But he doesn't standout as an elite player in any one category, though there's nothing wrong with a very good all-around player at the wing position. The Celtics could certainly use a guy like that.
10. Frank Kaminsky, Big, Wisconsin
11. Myles Turner, Big, Texas
12. Bobby Portis, Big, Arkansas
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I'd trade both Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk in separate trades to open up minutes for any of these three players. That might sound extreme, but Sullinger can't be trusted to sustain any weight loss after the shenanigans he pulled at Ohio State - getting in the best shape of his life as a freshman, and then blowing up. Who's to say he won't get slim this season and then get lazy again after getting a fat contract?
And I'm quickly souring on Olynyk's offensive upside; he obviously has the talent to be great, but he may not have the mindset necessary to be as good as he should be.
Kaminsky gets the edge of this group because he's ready to make an immediate impact. He's going to be a terrific offensive player for many years to come. Turner has the best overall potential of them with his rare combo of stretch-shooting and shot blocking, but he isn't close to ready. And Portis is a far superior defender than both Sullinger and Olynyk combined, though he isn't as impactful on offense yet.
13. R.J. Hunter, Wing, Georgia State: Hunter is one of the draft's premier shooters. Brad Stevens probably cracks a smile at the thought of running him off actions after timeouts to unleash him for open threes. He played zone defense in college, but did play hard and show good instincts. Hunter's a hard worker and has a high basketball IQ, which bodes well for his future in the league.
14. Sam Dekker, Wing, Wisconsin: Dekker has a lot of potential if he develops into a consistent player. He's an amazing athlete, he can score, and he can defend multiple positions, but sometimes I see too much "Passive Jeff Green" in his game. Maybe all Dekker needs is to be enabled to be great, because the flashes he has shown are intriguing.
15. Justin Anderson, Wing, Virginia: This might seem like a reach, but if the Celtics are stuck at the 16th pick, then he brings impressive 3-and-D ability with an improving shot and mature, versatile defense. Anderson is another high character player that would fit right into the locker room.
16. Kevon Looney, Forward, UCLA: Looney fits Boston's preferences of switching everything on defense. He also projects as a solid spot up three-point shooter, with the potential to be more.
Thanks But No Thanks
17. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Wing, Arizona
18. Devin Booker, Wing, Kentucky
19. Trey Lyles, Forward, Kentucky
There's nothing wrong with any of these three players, they just aren't perfect fits for the Celtics. Booker isn't close to making an impact, Lyles is nice but he might not be any better than Olynyk or Sullinger, and as much as I love RHJ, he's going to get buried on the depth chart if the team plans to re-sign Jae Crowder and possibly sign another wing.
Swing For The Fences
20. Robert Upshaw, Big, Washington: The likelihood Upshaw plays over 300 games in the NBA is slim, but his chances of becoming a star are much greater than anyone else at this point. He was impressive at Washington, but the new skills he showed in his DraftExpress workout video are mind-blowing. Considering his fragile situation, he'll need an environment that will cater to his needs and give him support: maybe Boston can provide that.
21. Christian Wood, Big, UNLV: Wood won't make an impact anytime soon, but he's one of the few players that has the potential to stretch the floor and block shots. He plays hot and cold and guys like him sometimes never change, though the Celtics have a situation that milks every ounce of effort from its players.
22. Kelly Oubre, Wing, Kansas: The Celtics already have James Young and they don't need another one-dimensional wing that can't score off the dribble, but Oubre does have huge upside with his combination of shooting and length, so he has long-term value to the Celtics over other players.
23. Jarell Martin, Forward, LSU: Martin is a do-it-all threat on offense. He has a large frame with strong ball handling skills and he projects as a quality shooter. With his versatile skillset, he could easily exceed expectations.
24. Jerian Grant, Guard, Notre Dame: Grant isn't going to be available this late in the first, but he's a very smart player that could play alongside Marcus Smart; however, he has never proven he can be a consistent shooter. If he figures it out, though, he could be a threat to be reckoned with.
More on Shooters
More on Shooters
25. Michael Frazier, Guard, Florida: Frazier is a proven clutch shooter off screens, pick-and-roll, and spot ups. With a long wingspan, he's also a versatile defender that can switch onto both guard spots and small forwards. The Celtics couldn't ask for much more at this point.
26. Jonathan Holmes, Forward, Texas: Holmes can defend both forward positions and some centers, hit threes, and rebound well. That sure sounds like the ideal modern big if you ask me.
27. Jordan Mickey, Big, LSU: Mickey stands a 6'7 without shoes, but has a massive 87-inch wingspan. He can defend multiple positions and shined at the NBA Combine, showcasing a solid jumper. He certainly showed more than he did in his two years with LSU, making his decision to declare more understandable.
28. Montrezl Harrell, Big, Louisville: Harrell plays with more energy than anyone in the class. He's long and has slowly but surely improved as a shooter, though he still has a long ways to go. But the Celtics have plenty of "energy generators" on the team and need something more than that.
29. Timothe Luwawu, Wing, France
30. Michael Qualls, Wing, Arkansas
Luwawu and Qualls are both excellent athletes. Qualls measured incredibly well at the combine, with his only real weakness being his jumper. Luwawu is raw and is a bit of an unknown, but projects as a 3-and-D player.
Cameron Payne, Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, and George De Paula are all talented players, but they were left off the top 30 because point guard is not a position of need for the Celtics and none of them can play the two-guard on offense. That's what gives Jerian Grant an edge from a Celtics perspective, since he can play both guard spots on both ends.
My favorite spots to be drafting this year are in the top 10 and the 20-45 range. The Celtics already have three selections in the latter range (28, 33, and 45), but that 16th pick is in no man's land.
With the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, May 19, we'll get a better idea of the draft landscape, but for now it appears the Boston Celtics would benefit from trading up and targeting someone in my Big Five, if that option is on the table. If Danny Ainge is unable to work a miracle and acquire a star player before or during draft night, then trading up makes too much sense with the amount of assets they have at their disposal.