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Clearing up the Celtics 2023 NBA Draft picture

Boston projects to have a single second-round selection at the draft

NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Under Brad Stevens, the Boston Celtics have somewhat eschewed the NBA Draft process. Part of that is because the Celtics have a roster that is set to win now, so adding proven talent is a necessity over projects with upside.

At the 2022 NBA trade deadline, Stevens traded Boston’s 2022 first-round pick (and Josh Richardson and conditional swap rights in 2028) to the San Antonio Spurs for Derrick White.

During the 2023 offseason, Stevens traded the Celtics 2023 first-round pick (along with five players) to the Indiana Pacers for Malcolm Brogdon.

It’s unclear if this is Stevens choosing the known of veteran players over the unknown of prospects, or if he’s simply reinforcing the roster while the Celtics are title contenders. It’ll take at least a few more draft cycles to fully understand how Stevens views the draft as a means of adding talent.

What we do know is that Boston enters the 2023 NBA Draft a little light in terms of draft assets. Here’s what the Celtics are working with, as of now, on draft night on June 22.

First Round

This one is easy. As covered above, the Celtics sent their 2023 first-round pick to Indiana for Malcolm Brogdon. While we won’t know what the 28th pick will become, and likely won’t for several years, it’s fair to say this is a trade Boston would happily do again.

Second Round

This one isn’t quite as easy, but hopefully we can clear things up.

Boston’s own second-round pick is headed to the Washington Wizards. This pick is being routed to Washington via the Charlotte Hornets. The Celtics traded this pick to the Hornets to “pay” them to make the Gordon Hayward a sign-and-trade vs a straight signing. That created what was then the largest Traded Player Exception in NBA history.

That was of course used to acquire Evan Fournier, with the remainder being used to acquire Josh Richardson. Richardson was then flipped to the Spurs for Derrick White. So, it’s safe to say that worked out alright for the Celtics!

That’s the easy part of the second round. The Celtics will have a selection coming their way, but which one is a little complicated. And we won’t know until after the NBA Draft Lottery takes place on May 16.

If the Houston Rockets second-round selection lands at pick 32, it will go to the Indiana Pacers. If it’s pick 33 (technically 33-60, but 33 is the only possibility), the pick will go to Boston.

This pick came to the Celtics when they sent Enes Freedom to the Memphis Grizzlies, along with a 2020 first-round selection (yes, it became Desmond Bane, but we don’t need to have that discussion for the umpteenth time!) in a salary dump. The Celtics acquired this Rockets pick (encumbered with several conditions, which have now boiled down to 32 vs 33) and a 2025 Grizzlies second-round pick, which was sent to the Orlando Magic in the Fournier deal.

Back to what matters for the 2023 NBA Draft...

In order for that pick to become 33, the Celtics need to see the San Antonio Spurs finish ahead of the Rockets in the lottery. Because the two tied record-wise, their second-round picks will be the inverse of the first-round.

Now, should the Rockets pick land with the Pacers and not the Celtics, all is not lost. Boston will just shuffle down the board a couple of selections. They’ll receive the Portland Trail Blazers second-round pick, which is the 35th overall selection.

The Celtics acquired this pick from the Atlanta Hawks, after it changed hands from the Blazers to the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Detroit Pistons to the LA Clippers to the Hawks. Boston got this pick in the August 2021 three-team trade that sent Tristan Thompson to the Sacramento Kings, Delon Wright to the Hawks and Kris Dunn, Bruno Fernando and this pick to the Celtics.

Once again back to where things stand now...

If Houston comes up at pick 33, the Celtics will get that pick and the Trail Blazers pick at 35 will go to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the Mike Muscala trade from this year’s trade deadline. Boston also owes OKC their own second-round pick in 2029.

If Houston lands at 32 (they can’t be 31, because that pick goes to the Detroit Pistons), then Boston keeps the Portland pick at 35. In that case, the Thunder will get a later pick that was tied up between several other teams that isn’t really worth untangling for our purposes here.

Got it now? Clear as mud? Good!

TL/DR Version

The Celtics have no first-round selection.

The Celtics second-round selection will be either 33 (from the Rockets) or 35 (from the Trail Blazers), pending where the Spurs and Rockets land in the first round of the draft.

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