With four top 45 selections, a surplus of future picks, and tradable young players, the Boston Celtics are well-positioned to trade up in the 2015 NBA Draft. But they'd have to pay a pretty penny to find a willing dance partner, since the talent drops off after the top 8 picks and again after the lottery.
This draft is loaded at the top, so a talented prospect will drop to the 6 to 8 range; it's only just a matter of whom. While it's not out of the question for the Celtics to make a leap to this area, it's more likely that if they do make a move it won't be any further than the 9th or 10th pick.
It's difficult to foresee many of the teams above that slot trading out, unless it's for a proven player. The Celtics could overpay, but they'd probably prefer to hold onto the assets with the hopes of a reeling in a bigger fish later in the summer. But it's still a scenario worth examining, since there are plenty of players that could tickle Danny Ainge's fancy. Here are a handful of them:
PF/C Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia
Porzingis is one of those rare big men that could be both a knockdown three-point shooter and a rim protector. This makes him easy to slot into a number of systems, including Boston's, which prefers its bigs to stretch the floor. He's long and lanky, but has a wide frame to pack on more muscle. Attainability: Below Average. Depending on a team's needs or preferences, Porzingis could go anywhere between 3 and 10.
More on Willie Cauley-Stein
More on Willie Cauley-Stein
C Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Cauley-Stein isn't a human and should become an elite rim protector. My previous analysis of Cauley-Stein's fit on the Celtics can be read by clicking here and a specific look at his defense can be read by clicking here. Attainability: Average. Orlando might be crazy not to pick him at 5, but if they pass then he could slip.
SF/SG Justise Winslow, Duke
The best two-way wing in the draft is Winslow. He can lockdown multiple positions, a valuable tool for the switching Celtics defense, and the grit he plays with would an ideal fit next to Marcus Smart. Winslow isn't a standout offensively, but he does everything quite well. It's easy to see him developing into a player that resembles Jimmy Butler. Attainability: Below Average. It's hard to foresee Winslow slipping too far.
C/PF Myles Turner, Texas
If Turner had played in a better system, maybe he wouldn't be projected to go in the mid-lottery - hell, he might even be in the top 5 conversation. Turner has a body similar to Roy Hibbert, but a game far different. He's a talented scorer with a soft touch from outside, but he didn't really get the opportunity to develop his low post game at Texas. With a 7'4" wingspan, Turner could become a stout rim protector, but his footwork and strength will need to improve. Attainability: Strong. Turner's stock won't rise much at this point. He could be available at the 11th pick.
SF/SG Stanley Johnson, Arizona
Johnson might be a better "value pick" than Winslow, since he brings a similar skillset a two-way player, but he isn't as refined of a prospect. He's a versatile defender, but he loses focus when things don't go well for him on the offensive end. And like Winslow, he can handle the ball as a wing, but he had trouble finishing at the rim, which raises doubts about his athleticism. Still, Johnson brings enough tools to carve out some type of role in the pros. Attainability: Strong. Johnson is only a mid-lottery draft pick.
PF/C Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Kaminsky was named Naismith College Player of the Year after posting terrific numbers as a senior. He's a versatile offensive threat with an advanced collection of low post moves, but his bread-and-butter in the NBA will be his silky-smooth jumper and ability to drive by oaf big men. Kaminsky is a solid team defender, but won't be able to protect the rim at a high level, so he might be too much like Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk for the Celtics to have significant interest. Attainability: Above Average. He'll get picked somewhere in the middle of the lottery.
SG/SF Mario Hezonja, Croatia
Fran Fraschilla said it best: "Hezonja is the only player in this draft that is capable of winning an NBA dunk contest and an NBA 3-point contest someday." He is a deadeye shooter with perfect mechanics and would immediately be a threat off screens and spot ups. Hezonja plays with an edge that he uses to make highlight plays, like dunks and blocks from behind. Attainability: Slim. Hezonja is too good to slip out of the top 7 or 8.
How far can the Celtics trade up?
It's hard to envision Denver (#7) or Detroit (#8) trading down, since so many players potentially available at those slots fill their respective needs. And it'd be stunning if anyone in the top 6 moved out, unless it was for a proven player, as rumored with New York.
Charlotte (#9) needs shooting and Stanley Johnson would be a fine pick, but maybe they'd prefer to trade down to the 16th spot to select Devin Booker, R.J. Hunter, or Kelly Oubre, all while acquiring extra assets. Depending on what they want to do with restricted free agent Bismack Biyombo could also play into their decision to stay put or trade out.
Miami is an interesting spot at the 10th pick, since they have their pieces, but all of them can either opt out or are aging (Deng, Bosh, Wade, Dragic). Pat Riley could sit tight and take the best player available, but trading down and grabbing two insurance pieces at #16 and #28 isn't a bad option either with such an uncertain summer to come.
The Celtics could always make a minor transaction with any of the teams in the backend of the lottery, much like they did two years ago trading the #16 pick and multiple seconds to move to #13 for Kelly Olynyk. With so many draft picks, Danny Ainge might want to make this type of jump just to assure that his team is able to snatch the player they're targeting, even if it's not a prize from the top 10.