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What if we looked ahead to the 2023 NBA Draft?

Without a first-round selection, the Celtics will have to look in the second-round for projects in the upcoming seasons.

2022 NBA Summer League - Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics
JD Davison
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

After trading for Malcolm Brogdon earlier this summer, the Celtics sent their 2023 first-round selection to Indiana in exchange for the skilled combo-guard. Earlier in 2022, the Celtics acquired Derrick White from the San Antonio, but it cost the organization their 2022 first-rounder — that’s why you didn’t see the Celtics making any selections this past June. Throw in the 2021 first-rounder the Celtics gave up in the Kemba Walker for Al Horford deal, and that’s three years that the Celtics haven’t had a first-round pick.

But, luckily for the Celtics fans, Brad Stevens has an eye for basketball talent. This offseason, Stevens selected JD Davison in the second round and he showed out at Summer League. I analyzed Davison’s Summer League performance in a film breakdown for CelticsBlog:

We’re a long ways away, but in 2023, the Celtics have another opportunity to find another diamond in the 2nd round rough again. Here are some way-to-early prospects the Celtics could draft in 2023:

Terrence Shannon Jr.

Let’s start with this: Terrence Shannon Jr. is an incredible athlete. Throughout his time at Texas Tech, he mesmerized crowds with his high-flying dunks and layups. For a 6’6” guard, he’s very quick and has high-level fluidity.

Shannon Jr.’s athleticism makes him dangerous in transition. He can go coast-to-coast in a flash, and has a great first step that he utilizes often. Shannon Jr. goes to a very distinct move in transition: he’ll plant his right foot and crossover to the dominant left hand. That’s when he has you. That quickness to get past perimeter defenders, and vertical to finish through interior defenders makes Shannon Jr. an intriguing prospect for the Celtics.

But, here’s what really makes Shannon Jr. a next-level fit with the Celtics: his switchability. Shannon Jr. was far-and-away the most athletic wing on Texas Tech’s roster last season, and his 6’8” wingspan allows him to guard multiple positions. Texas Tech ranked 1st in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency last season, and Shannon Jr. was a key contributor on that end of the floor, helping the Red Raiders reach that margin.

The most notable thing Shannon Jr. has to improve upon is the shooting ability. Shannon Jr.’s jumper isn’t completely irrelevant, but consistency is key.

He has improved, though. Shannon Jr.’s 3-point percentage has increased in each of his three collegiate seasons. As a junior, he shot 38-percent from deep — not a bad statistic for a prospect that’s still in the early stages of establishing a consistent jump shot.

As Shannon Jr. transfers from Texas Tech to Illinois, there’s certainly hope that he can take another leap forward as a 3-point shooter under Brad Underwood. If he does, he’s definitely someone the Celtics should keep an eye on.

Jarace Walker

Jarace Walker is a 6’8” forward. He weighs 235 pounds. He has a 7’2” wingspan. So yes, Walker is an absolute force. The Houston-bound prospect is very, very strong. Despite the frame and strength, Walker has excellent control — he’s very fluid considering his size. Walker is also incredibly athletic. He’s flashed solid speed and vertical ability.

Walker has a great second-jump, and through this ability, Walker can become a solid interior shot-blocker and rebounder. He’s like a pogostick when he’s on the floor. He averaged 2.2 blocks per game in National Interscholastic Basketball Conference in the 2021-22 season.

Another aspect of Walker’s game is his playmaking and passing ability. For the position Walker will play, he has good floor awareness. Even better, he can play-make from the high-post or low-post. Similar to the elite passing frontcourt players in the league, Walker doesn’t hold the ball for long — he gets the ball quickly and accurately to where he wants it to go.

Walker still has room to improve, however. He has a tendency to drive and force an ill-advised attempt. Walker’s pure athleticism has masked this bad habit so far, but as he plays against defenders equal his size and strength at the next level, this habit could become glaring if he doesn’t develop as an off-the-dribble finisher.

Another area of improvement for Walker has to come in the jump-shooting department. Walker’s shot is slow, he needs to speed it up to truly become an effective 3-point shooter. Depending on how Kelvin Sampson uses Walker, we could see steady 3-point improvements from Walker at Houston. If the Cougars are looking to spread the floor and play 5-out, Walker’s development as a 3-point shooter could determine where he’s selected.

With the impending retirement of Al Horford, the 6’8” Walker could be a prime candidate to replace the 36-year-old Horford if he’s selected by the Celtics.

Taran Armstrong

Taran Armstrong is an Australian 6’5” point guard. A tall, lengthy point guard? Yes, please. He’s somewhat of a sleeper in 2023, but Armstrong’s combination of playmaking and size is real. During his freshman year at Cal Baptist, Armstrong put up steady numbers — 10.5 points, 6.4 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game.

The statistics don’t showcase Armstrong’s actual skills, which mainly revolve around his passing. He’s excellent in the pick-and-roll, finding teammates via cross-court skip passes and over-the-shoulder dimes. Armstrong has pinpoint accuracy, oftentimes delivering passes in the shooting pocket of the teammate.

Armstrong can score, too, particularly off-the-dribble and through transition, meaning that most of Armstrong’s attempts come closer to the basket. Of the 244 field goal attempts he took in his freshman season, only 78 were from 3-point range.

Armstrong does need to improve his efficiency, from both inside and outside the arc. He shot 39-percent from the field and 30-percent from 3-point territory. It’s an area to focus on for the 20-year-old guard. But, the size and playmaking ability is enough to draw attention from the Celtics.