The NBA draft is a month away, and we've had time to let the lottery results sink in. Personally I've gone into draft-research mode, and while I know we'll have lots of fun content coming over the next month from the rest of the staff, it seems like a good time to kick off this discussion from a high overview level.
Let's start with the obvious. The Celtics have the 3rd pick in what many assume is a two-player draft. But the not-so-obvious point I want to make is that there's no guarantee that Simmons and Ingram will be selected at Nos. 1 & 2. Last year at this time all the talk was surrounding Okafor and Towns as being the first two picks, but the Lakers surprised people by going with D'Angelo Russell. It is still likely that Simmons and Ingram go first, but the Lakers or Sixers could fall in love with Bender or Dunn or someone else and make a surprise decision. They could also make a trade that changes the dynamics of who's available.
If Simmons or Ingram drops down to No. 3, that would be a logical selection for the Celtics based on pure talent. Otherwise, the team will either trade the pick or select "the best player available" from the next tier down.
You should be somewhat familiar with the names being discussed in that range by now.
Dragan Bender is this year's international man of mystery. Easy comparisons will be made to Porzingis or Dirk, but that's never been fair because every player is unique. He's long and has big upside for the modern NBA, but he's still raw.
If you prefer shooting guards then we could choose between Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray. Hield is known as a high integrity, hard worker who got better every year and is a lights out shooter. Murray is also a good shooter, but he's younger and more raw, perhaps indicating higher upside (depending on what you think could be Hield's ceiling).
Many believe that Kris Dunn is the 3rd-best talent in the draft, but he happens to play a position at which the Celtics are already, and his agent has made it known that he's not keen on coming to the Celtics if that situation doesn't change. If Ainge believes that Dunn is a better fit, would he consider moving Marcus Smart to fill holes elsewhere and draft Dunn (note: Jeff Goodman believes that Dunn would be an upgrade over Smart).
Jaylen Brown would fill the need of an athletic wing man, but his lack of outside shooting may deter the Celtics based on fit.
Once you get past those names, there is a question of value at the 3rd position. If Ainge really likes someone else better than those names, he could just pick the guy that he likes the best. On the other hand, if he wanted to, he could trade back a few spots, pick up another asset, and still get his guy. Of course, if there's one thing we don't need more of at the moment it is draft assets.
If anything, the team should be looking into options to move up in the draft with their 2nd and 3rd first rounders (16 and 23). Of course, there are other teams with multiple first rounders, so I would imagine that the Suns (4) and Nuggets (7) won't have much interest in trading back.
Trading any or all of the picks for proven veteran players is always an option, but that's a discussion in itself that we've had already (and will likely have again...a few times or more).
The list of candidates to pick from at 16 and 23 is much deeper and broader in scope. One or both picks could be used on draft-and-stash players, but if the best player available is heading for the NBA next year, the Celtics will have to figure out how to make him fit into the roster spots available.
Again, this is just a table-setting topic placeholder for the rest of the month. We plan on several discussions on the draft, rumors, and the upcoming free agency period. So stay tuned and jump in on the discussion yourself.