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CelticsBlog Draft Big Board: Pick #28

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Who could be at #27 and who closes out the first round?

Texas A&M v Michigan Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

We polled CelticsBlog staffers to give their opinions on what they think the Celtics’ personal big board might look like, asking everyone to pretend they are Danny Ainge. Everyone logged out of their Janos burner accounts gave their best impressions and made their picks. We compiled the results into one single big board, which we will be updating each day between now and the draft.

Picks #1-3

Picks #4-7

Picks #8-10

Picks #11-13

Picks #14-16

Picks #17-20

Picks #21-23

Pick #24

Pick #25

Pick #26

Alex Kungu and I (Sam Sheehan) will be discussing the picks and what we think the implications and thinking might be with each selection, including some additional thoughts from other CelticsBlog staffers.

Here are the final names on our big board.

#28 Moritz Wagner

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

SS: At #28 we have Moritz Wagner from the University of Michigan. Wagner projects pretty cleanly as an unathletic stretch big who needs to rely heavily on positioning in order to credibly defend in the NBA. That said, Wagner was also a lethal 3-point shooter with some solid screening to go with it, making him custom made for a “pick and pop” league. I don’t love the Kelly Olynyk comparisons, as Olynyk was really good off the bounce and had much better ball handling coming out of school than Wagner currently does. That said, there’s an immediate, clear role for him in today’s league and it’s one that Celtics have valued over the past few years in Boston. Given that bigs are a position of need for the Celtics, Wagner could potentially be a fit here, particularly given that a bench front court of him and Semi Ojeleye could really complement one another. That said, he doesn’t have the upside of some of these other picks, and if he can’t figure out the positional aspects of defense, he could be unplayable in today’s league.

AK: Mo Wagner is an interesting case for me, I actually think he has better feet than most people give him credit for and he’s someone who I think could be a valuable closeout attacker at his size. I would have loved to see more elbow creation for him and I think you were spot on regarding his defense deficiencies. One non-skill trait that I love about him is he’s such a high-energy player who just has no fear of the moment. I can already envision him as the stretch big who hits a couple threes in a row and make the Garden go wild. How high on him I think depends on two questions. Do you think he can turn into a strong positional defender? Do you think he can become a strong ball-mover? And can he punish mismatches against slow-footed wings and bigs? I think the answer to all these questions is yes, to what extent probably will determine his ceiling.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

SS: It’s a little bit strange, because aside from Mitchell Robinson, Wagner projects to be the only big around the Celtics range in the draft. I think most fans understand that the Celtics are the most thin at the big positions, both now and projecting out into the future. I think of any of these “realistic” prospects, Wagner projects to get the most playing time in year one, which could help along his development. On the other hand, the league is exceedingly deep at PG and the big positions right now, so drafting a big just because you need one, might be a bit of an error when you could get a better, more established guy on the free agent market, albeit at a (slightly) heftier price. How much do you think the Celtics will take current roster construction into account when planning their draft?

AK: I don’t think current roster construction and picking long-term draft picks are mutually exclusive. As you alluded to, Wagner could be a player most likely to develop because he’ll have playing time. That in itself changes how you evaluate him. If the Celtics buy into his highest outcome, the fact that they’d be able to give him an expanded role make him valuable, and I think his selection at 27 would signify that Boston was thinking around the same lines.

SS: I personally wonder if he might slide a bit, given this valuation of bigs around the league as a whole. It might be possible to get Wagner in the second round, and the Celtics are going to have all of their cash available to possibly buy a second round pick. Doing so could help them create more salary to match for trades, but also means they might be able to look at a guy like Wagner who could hypothetically still be there at 40.

AK: That’s interesting, how does the whole pick buying stuff work and do you have any potential teams in mind that could be open to it?

SS: Teams have maximum limit of a little over $5M that they can receive OR send in trades. This can be used to purchase 2nd round picks from cheap or cash strapped teams, like the Warriors paying the Bulls last year to get Jordan Bell. Second round picks don’t come with a salary exception, so part of the mid level or bi-annual exceptions would need to be used to sign them to a big league deal. That said, they can also be signed to a two-way contact. Perhaps a two way deal is beneath a prospect like Mo, but with the Celtics keeping an out for possible ways to add future rotation pieces on the cheap, I think it’s worth noting.

AK: Ah, and speaking of potential candidates to buy a pick from, the Magic (35th and 41st) and the Nets (40th and 45th) are teams with multiple selections in close range that could be willing sellers. Getting a chance to maybe swing on one of the perimeter guys and land Wagner in the second round would be a huge win for the Celtics.

SS: I can’t imagine that a man of integrity like Richard DeVos would ever disappoint a fan base for a cash infus-- (unable to continue due to uncontrollable laughing)