In an insider piece, Chad Ford had an interesting tidbit regarding the Boston Celtics.
Several agents told me that they were considering holding their clients out of workouts with the Boston Celtics as well. The Celtics currently have the best odds of winning the No. 1 pick, and unlike the Kings, they have one of the most respected front offices and coaching staffs in the league.
The Celtics are loaded with players at every position. The fear is that -- much like No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown saw this year -- their clients would have to spend the next few years coming off the bench. That's not what most top prospects in the draft want. They want a chance to start and lead a franchise right away.
"I have deep respect for the Celtics," one agent said. "They may have the best GM and head coach in the league. But I'd have to understand what the plan would be for my client before I let them come. They are loaded at every position. There's a real danger that they take a player and either he plays a limited role of the bench, or he becomes an asset to be traded to a situation that we're uncomfortable with. It's tough."
The news shouldn’t be that surprising. Lottery teams are traditionally the worst teams in the league that immediately thrust their prized lottery prospects into big roles that they may or may not be able to handle. The extended time allows players to play through mistakes and build up inflated statistics that usually gains them recognition via being selected to the rising star games, making all-rookie teams, and drawing the eyes of casual observers who glance at the box score and check out the latest Youtube highlights. The more defined role also means the opportunity to grow into that role and raise the probability that a player will reach their full potential.
So in a draft that looks like it’ll be guard-heavy, it’s easy to imagine that prospects and agents would be worried about being thrust into a backcourt headed by three hard-nosed veteran guards who have all developed strong reputations and will be going into their contract years. However, the other side of that thought-process is the Celtics know that too.
As a team currently battling for a chance to be in the conference finals, the Celtics have no patience for long-term prospects and players who can’t give them an edge when it counts, and due to that, they will have a Best Player Available board that reflects this. If you took a shot everytime Danny Ainge or Brad Stevens made mention of Jaylen Brown’s NBA body you would still be drunk today. If the Celtics make a selection in this years draft then it will be for a guy that they believe can come in and be able to produce with this current core. This season via ESPN, Jaylen Brown was 12th amongst rookies in minutes played, 9th in games played, and tied for 20th in minutes per game amongst rookies. Furthermore, he’s 1st in minutes and games played, and is 3rd in minutes per game amongst rookies who are currently in the playoffs.
So yeah, if you’re the agent of an undersized point guard or have a guy that needs some time to develop before he can be productive on the court then being wary of being drafted by the Celtics makes sense. However, this is probably a non-story at the end of the day because the players who the Celtics are targeting will most likely be players they are envisioning a current role for.
Other notes from the combine...
OG Anunoby measured out at a shade under 6’8 with a 7’2 wingspan and an elite 8’11 standing reach. Anunoby is an athletic freak that will be able to come into the league and defend 1-5. Even with the shaky offense he should easily be in the lottery. He has shown the ability to be an effective offensive player when confined to the role of slasher and spot-up shooting. He may not be a top 5 talent now, but if the Celtics end up with the 4th pick, then the talent gap may be close enough to consider trading back to take a reach for him. In a conference where Lebron James holds the keys to the finals, the more bodies you have to defend him the better.
Another name to keep in mind is Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo. Via Draftexpress, Diallo measured out at 6’5 with a 6’11 wingspan that posted an impressive 44.5 max vert (the 2nd best vertical ever recorded at the combine). He’s going to super hard to project because though he committed to Kentucky he actually hasn’t played a single college game, but is eligible for the draft because he played a year in prep school. In high school he was an electric guard in transition who elevated with ease and showed some impressive handle that could bode well for his ball-handling ability at the NBA level. One thing that was impressive with Diallo was his body control when attacking the basket. Even at the high school level, teams constantly packed the paint against him and tried to put as many bodies as they could in his way and Diallo was pretty good at avoiding that contact while still finishing at the rim. His jumpshot will be the big question mark coming into workouts, but his mechanics actually look stellar and combined with his ball-handling and freak athleticism he looks like a prospect who has the potential to be able to score off the dribble. Right now Draftexpress has him going early in the second round, but I expect him to shoot up draft boards and get into the lottery by the time the draft comes around in June. He may not be a guy who ever crosses path with the Celtics, but he’s another guy who the Celtics may not mind targeting if they decide to trade back.
My final note here is don’t be surprised if the draft boards change drastically from now till June. Outside of Markelle Fultz who is very clearly the best prospect in this draft, all of these other prospects have flaws that will be judged very differently depending on the team. There’s a lot of guys in this draft such as Harry Giles, OG Anunoby, Hamidou Diallo, Johnathan Issac, and Juwan Evans who could fly up draft boards during the workouts and really challenge the current hierarchy. This is a really deep draft with a lot of interesting prospects, and the option of trading back for the Celtics shouldn’t be looked at as a negative if things don’t turn out in the lottery.