The NBA Finals has concluded, and now all eyes shift toward the 2019 NBA Draft this coming Thursday, June 20th. It will be a day full of speculation for the Boston Celtics as they come into the draft with three first round picks (and a second) and a flurry of trade rumors.
Of course, for our coverage, we will assume that the Celtics will be keeping all of their draft selections so that we all can get a better understanding of which college prospects are out there and could help the Celtics roster. Make sure you also check out Max Carlin’s draft coverage of his Draft Big Board and his draft philosophies for the 2019 class.
Let’s take a closer look into which draft prospects would be the best fit for the Celtics. It is important to distinguish between the top prospects and the realistic options in this draft because there will be hidden talent throughout with a player being ranked 15th overall on one person’s big board and 30th on another. The Celtics will have a good opportunity to hit a home run with one of their late first round picks.
As a refresher, the Celtics will have picks #14, #20, #22, and #51 coming into Thursday night. The prospects around these selections will differ, so I will have three tiers of prospects to be on the watch for the Celtics to choose on Draft Night. The main priorities for Boston should be looking to add to their depth at both the point guard and power forward/center positions.
Pick # 14
Coby White- 6’5” Guard, North Carolina
This may be wishful thinking, but if Coby White falls down to pick #14, he would be a great selection for the Celtics. The point guard need will be important to address with Kyrie Irving inevitability leaving on July 1st. White is a high upside point guard who has the handles and basketball IQ to quickly help whatever lineup is around him. His elite scoring ability and shot-creation will also be transferable into the Celtics system which will be a nice addition after losing the production from Kyrie. He would slide nicely into a roster in need of point-guard depth.
Brandon Clarke- 6’8” Forward, Gonzaga
Personally, Clarke is my favorite player at this pick. He has become the mid-round darling of the draft. Clarke comes in as another defense-first prospect that is working to develop his offensive game. He is a versatile defender who can stay in the post or switch out around the perimeter and still hold his own. He is a great pick here for the Celtics because he can (hopefully) learn from Al Horford on how to translate his game to become a five-tool player on the floor. Clarke brings the effort and intensity to translate well on the current Celtics roster.
Picks #20 & #22
Matisse Thybulle- 6’6” Wing, Washington
If the Celtics are to keep one of these picks in the 20’s, the selection should be taking Matisse Thybulle. Defense is the name of the game with this player. He is your stereotypical long-armed wing prospect with a wingspan measuring at 7’0”. Thybulle had unbelievable defensive numbers in his four years at Washington. He averaged 4.5 steals and 2.8 blocks per 40 minutes and was the catalyst for the Huskies’ zone defense. The biggest question marks come from how he will transition to an NBA defense and, above all else, his offense. Over time, I feel like the Brad Stevens system could help him develop into a decent scorer. His college free throw percentage was 85.1%, so that tells you that the shot is there, but it just needs to be adapted for a consistent NBA game. Next to Marcus Smart, Thybulle would wreak havoc on defense. Pair them with some more consistent shooters and that is a competitive lineup against any team.
Grant Williams- 6’8” Forward, Tennessee
As a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I saw first-hand Grant Williams’ development in his three years in Knoxville. These past two seasons, he has taken his game to another level. No one is certain where he fits at the NBA level and is someone who has been all across draft boards heading into Thursday night. Williams was a Naismith Finalist this year and a two-time SEC Player of the Year.
Offensively, he turned into Tennessee’s go-to option crafting into a multi-use player scoring effectively both in the post and on the pick-and-roll cutting and finishing around the rim. Williams still needs to find a three-point shot to be able to make it in the NBA, but the opportunity can be there with the Celtics. He could fit behind Horford and learn to be a reliable player in the league. Williams has the effort and motor to work on his game to become a long-term asset for the Celtics.
Bol Bol- 7’2” Center, Oregon
It felt necessary to add this prospect to the list because of the continuing speculation of the Celtics taking a risk on this center from Oregon. Personally, I would stay away, but the Celtics three first-round picks is the reasoning behind this gamble. Bol is one of the biggest question marks in the draft, but his measurables alone make him an enticing pick.
He has a 7’7” wingspan for rim protection while also being able to shoot a solid three ball. The biggest turnoff is the question of his physicality down in the post at an NBA level. Will he be able to hold his own to make an impact down there without much weight on his bones? That is a huge concern, but, as many have said before, he could be an interesting flyer for the Celtics to take in this draft.
In all reality, if the Celtics somehow keep all their picks, this pick will most likely be used for an international player that they can stash overseas for a season or two to spread out the influx of rookies coming in to an already young roster. It may very well be a prospect no one has heard of. So, instead of speculating on that possibility, I wanted to still add two names that would impact the roster next season.
Shamorie Ponds- 6’1” Point Guard, St. John’s
First up is the do-it-all guard out of St. Johns. Ponds is a pure scoring point guard that did everything for the team last season. He can get to any area on the court and create his own shot with ease. Occasionally, he finds himself getting into trouble taking shots that are not always good looks. Ponds biggest knock is that he forces either passes or shots that result in mistakes that do not translate well at the NBA level. If the Celtics are looking for a scoring-first point guard that can be a good source of depth, Ponds could the late round steal for them.
Jontay Porter- 6’11” Forward/Center, Missouri
The last prospect to highlight is Jontay Porter out of Missouri. Porter is another one of those question marks in this draft as he is coming off his second torn ACL in six months. In terms of positives, he is a passing big man who can impact the game outside of committing to the paint. He actually does not have the best rebounding skills, so he makes up for it creating space in the paint pulling his defender out. For the Celtics to draft Porter, it would be a huge risk. It makes things a bit easier at #51, but nonetheless, there are multiple red flags attached if Porter is the selection.
The Celtics will almost certainly be making moves leading up to or on Draft Night. Even as that may be the case, these prospects would all be solid fits with the Celtics heading into next year. There is always a common theme of high motor, defense-first guys that Danny Ainge is attracted to. This draft class has some diamond in the rough prospect which fit that mold perfectly for him and the Celtics.