Celtics fans are hyper focused on the Nets, and understandably so. There's a chance the pick ends up as the No. 1 pick, giving the Celtics one of the most valuable assets in the NBA. But every pick matters, so don't ignore that top-7 protected first-round pick the Celtics also own courtesy of the Mavericks.
Dallas is currently the No. 6 seed out West, but they have only a two-game lead on the No. 9 seed Jazz. Because of their cushion with just 25 games remaining, the chances are they make the playoffs. But they have the fifth-hardest schedule over the remainder of the season, and only a 10-20 record against teams over .500.
|Seed||Team||Win-Loss||Games Ahead||Net Rating||Strength of Schedule|
If the Mavericks make the playoffs, depending on their playoff seed, the pick will land anywhere between No. 15 and No. 24. Right now it's slotted at No. 17. But if they miss the playoffs, and don't win the lottery, it'll likely be in the No. 11 to 14 range. Even if they do make the playoffs, there's a chance they slip down the standings, since Portland and Utah are rising fast.
That could make a difference for the Celtics on draft night, since it'd become a more appealing asset. Some teams don't want to wait for future picks -- and the Celtics have plenty of those -- especially when they can acquire a player immediately. Having an extra trading chip that can instantly gratify another organization could be necessary in a deal.
Plan A is for the Celtics to find a transcendent player, like Blake Griffin or DeMarcus Cousins or James Harden. Being able to offer two lottery picks could give them an extra edge over a team like Philadelphia or Phoenix, who could be dark horse teams in the market for a star.
If the Celtics can't find a blockbuster trade, it'd still put them in a more advantageous position. If the Nets pick ends up in the No. 4 to 6 range, the Celtics could always package it with the Dallas pick to move up a few slots.
Even looking solely at the Dallas pick, if it's in the No. 11 to No. 17 range, the Celtics could be positioned to make a subtle move up the ladder into the No. 6 to No. 10 range. Just because they tried and failed to trade up last year, it doesn't mean they would in 2016.
If they have to stay put, there's a chance they'll have to draft-and-stash players. A Mavs pick in the late lottery would put them in a position to draft overseas talent like Timothe Luwawu or Furkan Korkmaz, as opposed to some of the less talented international players deeper in the first round.
Dallas will in all likelihood make the playoffs as the No. 7 or 8 seed, but it'll be a tight race. If Portland and Utah continue to surge, it could be a 3-team race between Memphis (without Marc Gasol), Houston, and Dallas for the final two spots. Maybe David Lee, who recently signed with the Mavericks, will get a chance to make his most positive contribution to the Celtics.