Even in years when we don’t have a first-round pick the rumor mill keeps swirling.
On Tuesday, Chris Grenham of Forbes noted interest from the Boston Celtics in taking Austin Reaves at the 45th pick. This time of year, it’s hard to know what smoke is purely a smokescreen and what is indicative of something ablaze.
At 23 years old, Reaves is a little older than most prospects and would be counted on for an earlier impact in his career. A late riser in many draft circles, Reaves is used to being the underdog.
“Coming out of high school, I wasn’t highly recruited,” said Reaves to Grenham. “I bet on myself, went to Wichita (State) and really proved that I could play. Then I had the opportunity to go to Oklahoma and play on arguably the biggest stage in college basketball. I really just had to prove myself at all stages. Nothing has really changed in that aspect.”
Reaves’ college journey was a different one. After two years as a spot-up shooting specialist, he transferred to Oklahoma and moved to become the focal point of a Big Twelve team ranked national. Usually, the inverse happens: a high-level scorer in lower ranks moves up to the big leagues and becomes a specialist. Reaves had a different path, and that alone is cause for intrigue.
When he went to Oklahoma, not only did his spot-up usage decline but his percentages from 3 plummeted. Some may see the glass half full, with potential for Reaves to fulfill both pull-up scoring roles he demonstrated at Oklahoma and the off-ball role he excelled in at Wichita State. Others are still hesitant on Reaves, doubting him just like he’s been doubted at every stop in his career.
But Reaves has been a winner at each stop. This year at Oklahoma, the Sooners made the NCAA Tournament and got ranked as high as #7 in the nation. He made two tournaments at Wichita State on a team that was ranked as high as #3. The success extends even beyond his college days.
“I had really good performances in high school,” remarked Reaves, “...and we won. We won three of four state championships, so it wasn’t someone just putting up good numbers and losing basketball games. We were winning as well.”
A 6’6” shot-maker with a winning pedigree? Sounds like a Brad Stevens guy to me. While I’m not overwhelmingly sold on Reaves due to some mild concerns around his on-ball defense, there is clear potential to come into the league and help a team like Boston by scoring from the guard spot.
Reaves is a hot name right now. He played well at the NBA Draft Combine back in June and has a ready-made game that can impress in solo workouts. There’s a chance he is off the board before the 45th pick. I’m not sure if he’s a needle-mover worth trading up for, but if Grenham’s report is accurate, it seems like there’s mutual interest between Reaves and the Celtics that would make him a hot name at 45.