After Michael Jordan denied Danny Ainge's massive trade offer for the No. 9 pick last summer, which Charlotte used to select Frank Kaminsky, Celtics fans began to assume it'll be impossible for Boston to consolidate their treasure trove of picks. But that's anything but the case. The evenness of the 2016 NBA Draft class could prove to be perfect breeding grounds for trade activity.
After the top eight or so players in this class, the talent begins to tail off, and then it stays relatively even into the 30s and 40s. Some executives, for example, consider Syracuse's Malachi Richardson a lottery talent. Others view him as a second-rounder.
With that logic in mind, if you're a team drafting in the late lottery and value a player significantly more than the "consensus," it makes sense to trade down a few spots, still get your guy, and acquire more assets.
That's what it sounds like the Utah Jazz are thinking.
"The Jazz are as open to multiple possibilities as they have been in recent history this deep into the process," The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The Jazz currently own the No. 12 pick in Thursday's draft. "If they do in fact decide to trade down, they could possibly even come out of the fray with a veteran in addition to swapping picks."
Utah's vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin also said the Jazz have "been on the phone quite a bit" and are "open to anything and everything." The Tribune cites Boston and Denver as teams that could be targets because of their wealth of picks.
So it's at least plausible the Celtics and Jazz could be dance partners on draft night. The Celtics have seven picks (Nos. 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, and 58) after the Jazz select at No. 12, so they have plenty of ammo to make a fair offer.
Bigs like Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga) and Ante Zizic (Croatia) stand out as options in that range, as do guards Timothe Luwawu (France) and Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey). The Celtics could always stay at No. 16 and get their guy, but with so many picks they can afford to burn one or two to assure they get him.
A package of picks 16 and 31 for 12 seems fair, at least on paper.
Another team to keep an eye on is the Orlando Magic at the No. 11 spot. There has been no word that they're even shopping the pick, but they need a rim protector, and there could be plenty still available at the No. 16 spot—maybe players even better than Jakob Poeltl.
Looking further up the board, the Pelicans (No. 6) and Kings (No. 8) should at least consider trading down. They both need to grab multiple players to build around their star big men, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
With three firsts and five seconds, Thursday's draft could be a lively night for the Celtics.
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