Imagine if I told you that the Celtics would be drafting a long big man rim protector that could switch on pick and rolls and drain three-pointers. That would be pretty exciting, wouldn't it? Well that guy is already on the team, and his name is Jordan Mickey.
The Celtics have team needs that they can and will fill in the draft, free agency, and the trade market. But they also have kids on the team that are growing into men (mostly) behind the scenes. Mickey, Terry Rozier, and RJ Hunter each got a short run with the team during the season and proved that with more time and development they could produce on the NBA level.
In fact, according to Danny Ainge, other teams have noticed them and have come calling about their availability.
"I really believe it’s an opportunity league. There are many players that are sitting on benches on other teams that are stacked with talent that just don't get an opportunity. We have some on our team," Ainge said on "Sports Final." "We think [2015 second-round pick] Jordan Mickey has a bright future and [2015 first-round pick] Terry Rozier has a bright future and we’ve gotten calls from other teams about them that say, ‘Those guys aren’t getting an opportunity in Boston, we want to get those guys to come play for us.’ But we’re going to try to be patient with them as well, and other young guys."
The thinking goes that once you actually make a draft pick selection, the value of that tradeable asset goes down because you've taken away the other team's ability to pick who they want. However, over time the player develops his own portfolio and stands on his own as an individual player rather than some vague draft asset.
Mickey, Rozier, and Hunter are all still a bit of a mystery based on the lack of regular rotation time. However, each has shown glimpses of future productivity and as a result have likely raised their value both to the Celtics and other teams.
Jordan Mickey in particular has gone from second-round prospect to a guy that could get some serious playing time on the Celtics next season—depending on how the roster rounds out. He's could end up being the poster boy for how the D-League can be a valuable learning opportunity for young guys with big upside.
"He has a good approach to his opportunity for development while in Maine and is making the most of it," Red Claws head coach Scott Morrison told CelticsBlog. "He is benefitting from extra reps and our confidence in him to stretch the floor when the situation presents itself. His results have been encouraging. And we will keep trying to improve his consistency from range while he is with us."
I'm looking forward to seeing Mickey, Rozier, and Hunter in the Summer League and into next season. Each could have a bright future and be very valuable for the Boston Celtics, either on the court or as trade chips.