“With the Third Pick, The Celtics Draft… Just What They Needed”
After years and years of banking on one of the Brooklyn picks to turn into a No. 1 pick, the Celtics got exactly that… and traded it away. Pretty much everyone in New England freaked out because we are pretty good at that in our six state region. When it happened my reaction was, “meh, maybe the Celtics will trade for a 2nd-Team NBA guy, maybe the Celtics will just pick the guy they wanted there anyways and get an extra lottery pick out of it.” Why would I, or anybody else, second guess what Danny Ainge wanted to do. The man knows his stuff. The reason the Celtics even had the No. 1 pick was because of Ainge’s ability to evaluate talent and then swindle a fellow general manager. The guy knows his stuff. If he has taught Celtics (and NBA) fans anything over the last decade or so, it is that he has a great eye for talent. You love the King of the Fourth Isaiah Thomas? Thank Ainge for one of the most lopsided trades in recent history. You love how the Celtics have one of the best two way players and second best on-ball defender in the NBA in Avery Bradley (Kawhi Leonard is No. 1)? Thank Ainge for great drafting and developing. How about the Tasmanian Devil known as Marcus Smart? You know, another unreal defender and a guy that almost single-handedly won a game against the Cavs IN CLEVELAND in the playoffs? Yeah, thank Ainge again. He does not have the track record of Bill Belichick (nobody does), but when it comes to having faith in unforeseen moves, the best bet when evaluating the Boston Celtics and the Celtics Draft is to simply wait and see. Ainge knows what he is doing and connects more times than not.
How to Evaluate the Celtics Draft
I am not a grades guy, or numbers guy, when it comes to draft analysis. To me, that is stupid. The question with every drafted player should be, “does this guy work on the team?” Or, “does this player fill a need?” When you look at the Celtics draft in this light, it is a pretty substantial haul.
Round One–No. 3 Pick Overall (first Celtics Pick): Jayson Tatum
If you are going to trade away the No. 1 pick, and a chance at drafting Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Boll, make sure you still get the guy you want. If Danny Ainge is to be believed (and he should be considering he did not have to trade the No. 1 pick), he always wanted either Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum. Jackson spurned the Celtics not once, but twice in pre-draft workouts, which speaks to something dubious about his character (have fun in Phoenix), and that refusal seemed like the tipping point in the Tatum/Jackson debate. All the Celtics are getting in Tatum is a guy who could possibly be… Paul Pierce light. Tatum is one of the best scorers in the draft. What was one of the most glaring flaws of the 2016-2017 Celtics? Pure scorers.
Isaiah Thomas is pretty much the only guy who can create his own shot on the Celtics, especially out on the perimeter. If you get the ball to Al Horford down in the post he can do his thing (either passing or scoring), but you still need cutters to open up lanes for him. Avery Bradley can create his own shot maybe once or twice a game, but most of his buckets come off of set plays or glorious backdoor cuts. Even a guy like Marcus Smart is at his best posting up smaller guards. In a perimeter league, you need guys that are pure scorers and Tatum is one of the best pure scorers in the draft. It will be interesting to see how the Celtics use Tatum, but by adding yet another skilled and explosive swing man, the Celtics can field an uber athletic five at any point in the game (watch out defenses for a IT4, Avery, Jaylen Brown, Tatum, Horford combo). You will notice that if the Celtics roll out a five like the one listed above, there are three above average defenders on the floor, all of whom could go off for 20 on any given night (my most solid prediction for the upcoming year is the jump in production of Jaylen Brown, the guy is going to be a stud).
Round Two–No. 37 Pick Overall (second Celtics Pick): Semi Ojeleye
Biggest steal of the draft. Semi Ojeleye MURDERED UConn every time he played them. As a monster of a “Three and D” guy with a tremendous motor and hysterical vertical (40.5″), the Huskies and Kevin Ollie had no answer for Ojelye every time they played. In his last collegiate game (a loss to USC in the first round thanks to a late game three), Ojeleye put up a 24 and 10. He had a disrespectful 36 and 12 against Eastern Carolina and also went the entire season without fouling out while averaging 18.9/6.8. This is a guy who can shoot, play some defense, and punish the rim. I am not saying Ojeleye is going to be a 10 time all-star, but this is a guy who will have his own YouTube highlight reel wearing the shamrock in five years. Heaven help any four that is out of position on Ojeleye (a 42% three point shooter). He can knock it down from deep and slam it on home with ferocity from the inside. I LOVE this pick and hope he plays to his potential. An absolute steal, and at 6’8/230, his body type and size should remind you of another Eastern Conference player.
Round Two–No. 53 Pick Overall (third Celtics Pick): Kadeem Allen
Quick, what were the Celtics completely unable to do against the Cavs? Forgot because you wiped the memory of the series out of your head? Let me help. PLAY DEFENSE!!! What can Kadeem Allen do? PLAY DEFENSE!!! Allen is 6’3. His wingspan is 6’9. Allen was one of the most perimeter defenders in all of the NCAA last season. Not a guy that will light up the scoreboard (9.8 PPG) by any stretch, but somebody that can stick with the quickest guards in the Eastern Conference (looking at you John Wall) and bother them into mistakes (1.9 steals PG) and also understands help rotation (1.0 blocks PG). If this sounds like a poor man’s Avery Bradley, you are right. That is exactly what Ainge is going for with this pick? Will it pan out? Who knows. Does it provide an extra layer of guard defense if it works out? Definitely. Also, remember how when Avery Bradley was drafted people said he was pretty much a nonfactor offensively and would always have to rely on backdoor cuts until he developed a shot? Well, he developed a shot this year and was averaging 18 and eight until a midseason injury limited his effectiveness and he ended the year with a still pleasant 16.3/6. Why does this matter? Because Kadeem Allen, all defense and no offense, shot 42.7% from three last year. Could he pull an Avery Bradley? Hopefully. It is a bunched and loaded backcourt for the Celtics, but this is still a solid draft pick nonetheless.
Round Two–No. 56 Pick Overall (fourth and final Celtics Pick): Jabari Bird
A poor man’s Jaylen Brown. Bird is a decent shooter (under 40% from the three point line) who played with Brown at Cal. He does not have the type of explosiveness displayed by Brown (not many do), nor does he battle all that hard for boards (he improved to 4.7 rebounds a game as a senior after junior and sophomore campaigns of 3.3 RBP and a freshmen mark of 2.0 RPG in 20 minutes of action). He can score some, averaging a little more than 10 points per game his sophomore and junior seasons before jumping up to 14.3 PPG his senior season. The thing is though, he does not have the type of athleticism that Brown possesses and is an inferior and similar player to Brown. This is more of a feeder pick in case something bad happens to the roster. I do not expect to ever see Jabari Bird on the court this season unless Gino is dancing.
Overall Analysis of Celtics Draft
From a standpoint of did the Celtics draft anybody that can wow you? No. No they did not. But for anybody that has watched the Celtics the last couple of years, that is simply not the type of team they are. Did the Celtics draft a couple of really useful cogs and maybe even hit a sleeper pick out of the park? Absolutely. I cannot wait to see what Tatum brings to the second unit in terms of pure scoring ability. I also want to see if Brad has the gumption to roll a defensive second unit of Smart, Allen, Brown, Ojeleye, and Ante Zizic.
Bottom line is the Celtics drafted a pure scorer that can best be described as Paul Pierce Lite (he even grew up rooting for the Lakers). They also took a manimal with their first pick of the second round that is a moster Three and D guy who can rip down boards. They then doubled down by taking Avery Bradley’s illegitimate younger brother with their third pick (and Jaylen Brown’s less talented younger brother with their fourth). They also have two different guys in Ante Zizic and Guerschon Yabusele from the 2016 Draft that most Celtics fans have never seen and have completely forgotten about, but that should shore up their rebounding problems. Ainge took at look at what his team needed; a pure scorer to help out IT4 and a little more defense and drafted exactly that. Maybe Ainge is going to move on and get somebody for Tatum, but as it stands now, Ainge just made the Celtics better with this draft. And oh yeah, in case you forgot… that means he just made the team that finished first in the Eastern Conference regular season… better.