clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

5 players the Celtics should consider drafting with the No. 35 pick

Adama Sanogo, Dariq Whitehead, Trayce Jackson-Davis are a few names to monitor.

NBA: Combine
Oscar Tshiewbe has an impressive motor on the basketball court.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, the Celtics have tended to prioritize drafting players with long-term potential who have plenty of room to grow.

This year, after an agonizing loss in the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s possible they’ll instead look to address an immediate need. Players with high ceilings are enticing, but sometimes players with high floors are the way to go, particularly so late in the draft.

Here are five prospects they should consider taking with the 35th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Adama Sanogo, UConn forward/center

You might remember Sanogo from his dominant NCAA Tournament run with UConn a few months ago.

At 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, he makes up for his “lack” of traditional big man height with a strong foundation and nearly 7-foot-3 wingspan. Sanogo, the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player, averaged 17.2 points 7.7 rebounds this season and played his best basketball when it mattered most.

He can come in right away and make his presence felt. Even if he averages 3 points and 3 rebounds in 12 minutes, that’s beneficial. The Celtics really needed another big during their playoff run (yes, even Cody Zeller would have helped), and Sanogo can fill that role well.

He plays extremely hard, runs the floor decently well for his size and is a great team guy. Plus, he has a steadily improving outside shot and is a sneaky good passer. He won’t be a bust and is worth the pick.

Dariq Whitehead, Duke guard/forward

Whitehead is 18 years old but is an NBA-ready player from a talent standpoint.

The 6-foot-7 guard/forward has a unique blend of size, length and athleticism. He’s a guy who can provide instant energy off the bench next year.

At Duke, while he had a decent season with 8.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game, he didn’t really get to showcase his potential while dealing with injury on a loaded roster. He was once considered a possible top-five pick but had foot surgery last August and never quite hit his stride afterward.

Whitehead would fit in well as Jaylen Brown’s backup and would learn from him (assuming Brown stays). He plays downhill, has a great first step and has a chance to become an elite NBA finisher.

He has a high ceiling but also has a high floor.

Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana forward

While it’s likely Jackson-Davis will go late in the first round, there’s a chance he’ll fall to early in the second. If he does, the Celtics shouldn’t hesitate to take him.

He’s an Indiana guy, so Brad Stevens will like that. He also improved considerably with the Hoosiers, upping his scoring average from 13.5 as a freshman to 20.9 as a senior.

The word that comes to mind with Jackson-Davis is versatility. He averaged 10.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.9 blocks, 0.8 steals and shot 58.1 percent from the field last year. He does a little bit of everything, finishes well at the rim and has special leaping ability.

He’s not a great shooter right now, but he has the potential to become a respectable one. Even if he doesn’t sharpen his shot, he still should last. If he does, he could blossom into a great NBA player.

Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky forward/center

The knock on Tshiebwe, much like Sanogo, is that he’s “only” 6-foot-9 or so.

Having said that, he’s an outstanding – truly outstanding – rebounder. Tshiebwe carves out position like few others and relentlessly pursues the ball like his life depends on it. He averaged a whopping 15.1 boards in 2021-22, when he was the National Player Of The Year, and 13.7 last season.

The Celtics need another guy who will dive on the floor, keep plays alive and play with heart. Tshiebwe can be that guy. His post moves worked in college, but the next step is developing a variety of moves that will work in the NBA. He can get there.

Again, this list isn’t necessarily filled with guys who will average 20 points per game someday. It’s designed to highlight players who can contribute right away and make winning plays on a championship team – think Christian Braun.

Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan guard/forward

OK, just for fun, here’s one long-term project.

Bates, a 6-foot-9 wing who was ranked No. 1 in the country from sixth grade to his senior year of high school, was supposed to be the next big thing.

He had an up-and-down freshman year at Memphis and was later sentenced to 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge.

Bates, still 19, averaged 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds last year with Eastern Michigan. The talent is still there, and he just needs the right team to unlock it. The Celtics have a strong enough culture, and enough hardworking veterans, that Bates won't be a distraction off the court.

His on-court prowess is intriguing, as his length, athleticism and ability to glide from point A to point B make him a first-round talent who will likely go in the second.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Celtics Blog Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Boston Celtics news from Celtics Blog