If there’s one position that the Celtics are well stocked at, it is the point guard spot. Isaiah Thomas is the star of the team, and behind him are Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and Demetrius Jackson. Depth is a good thing, but at some point too much depth can be an issue, particularly when there are needs at other spots.
Looking ahead to the NBA draft (where the Nets pick could land somewhere in the top 5) gives me pause. Four of the top five prospects on DraftExpress are point guards (one is a combo guard). The other is Josh Jackson, a small forward (where Jaylen Brown plays) who has trouble with his jump shot (sound familiar?).
Sure, there’s a lot of time between now and the draft, and a lot can change in those rankings. Perhaps Harry Giles can prove he’s fully healthy and worth a top-5 pick. Maybe another prospect will rise up the rankings (Tatum? Anunoby?) and make the point (pun intended) moot.
Danny Ainge is all about maximizing his assets by taking the best player available. However, if the best option is a point guard, can the Celtics afford to add another one to the roster without making a move elsewhere? At some point variables like fit and mix have to matter. In fact, there’s a good chance that positional team needs had a role in the decision to pick Jaylen Brown over Kris Dunn.
But what if Boston wins the lottery with that Nets pick? Can they afford to pass on Markelle Fultz or Dennis Smith just because they have the position covered (for now)? Probably not. I think if the Celtics can add a potential star through the draft, then it makes sense that one or more of their current point guards could become available via trade.
Isaiah Thomas has done everything we could have hoped and more in Boston. I personally hope he’s here for the long term, but that doesn’t make him untouchable, and he’s not going to be a bargain contract for much longer (see: IT’s Brinks truck comment from this summer).
Marcus Smart is an emerging and developing talent who has a floor of “extremely valuable combo guard.” But his ceiling is very hard to gauge, and without a reliable jumper, he probably won’t develop into a star.
In theory you could play both point guards together and/or work a rookie into the mix, but then you are pushing Avery Bradley out of the fold.
Of course a lot of these decisions are months or even years away. But what the team decides to do in the next couple of months could depend greatly on what they plan to do in the following offseason.
If the team really loves their current guard rotation and sees the guards as the foundation of a championship team, then maybe they should lean toward trading the 2017 Nets pick. Likewise, if they don’t think they can get good value for any of our current mix, then they should look to use other assets to land incoming talent.
However, if the Boston front office sees a few guys at the top of the draft board who have a chance to be franchise-altering talents, then they should be very hesitant to move that Nets pick, even if it means passing on a current All-Star. They could still play out the season with the current mix of players and see where the pick lands in the lottery before making a move to thin out the backcourt. But it is still something to keep in mind.