With Three First-Round Picks, Boston's Options Are Aplenty
BOSTON – The waiting game is over for the Boston Celtics. They finally know that they own three first-round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. They also now know what their options are as they approach draft night on June 20.
Armed with a trio of first-rounders, those options are aplenty. Boston possesses more flexibility in this Draft than any other team in the league. It can make selections, it can trade selections, or it can utilize a combination of those two options.
We have laid out below all of the possibilities Danny Ainge and his basketball operations crew must evaluate over the next five weeks. The Celtics have more picks – and thus, more draft flexibility – than any other team in the league. Their three-first rounders account for 10 percent of the entire first round, and they have another valuable future pick owed to them from Memphis.
Use Them All To Fill Out the Roster
The first option – and most obvious and self-explanatory option – is to simply use all three picks to fill out the roster. Boston’s roster is in an interesting state, as only six players have contracts that are guaranteed for next season without a player or a team option. With that fact in mind, the C’s could opt to scoop up as many young players as possible to fill out a chunk of the empty space on their roster. Boston is well aware that being a rookie doesn’t prevent a player from contributing to winning. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Semi Ojeleye all contributed to the team’s high level of success as rookies during the last few seasons.
Go the Draft-and-Stash Route
Boston dipped its toes in the draft-and-stash waters of the first round as recently as 2016, when it was in a similar draft situation to this season. That year, the Celtics owned three first-rounders (Nos. 3, 16 and 23) and five second-rounders (Nos. 31, 35, 45, 51 and 58). There was no way the team could bring eight rookies in that season, so it had to get creative. It decided to use two of its three first-round picks as draft-and-stash picks, as it selected Guerschon Yabusele at No. 16 and Ante Zizic at No. 23. Both young players stayed overseas for the next season to continue their development until Boston had roster space for them for the 2017-18 season. After a strong showing with the C’s in the 2017 Summer League, Zizic was included as a piece of the Kyrie Irving trade with Cleveland. Demetrius Jackson was the only one of those second-rounders who made it onto Boston’s roster the next season. The rest of the picks were either traded, waived, or sent to the G-League.
Use Picks To Trade for a Player
This move is similar to the consolidation section above, in the vein of turning multiple picks into a player the Celtics want. The scenario above outlines turning those picks into a player in the Draft; this scenario outlines turning those picks into a player who is already in the league.
There is always the potential that Boston could have its eyes on a player, and that his team could be seeking a draft asset (or more) in this particular draft. Such a scenario would set the table for a potential deal in which both teams would come out of draft night with what they were seeking. It happened in 2007, when the Celtics agreed to a trade for Ray Allen that was centered around their fifth overall pick.
Consolidate Picks To Move Up
There have been instances in the past in which Boston considered consolidating multiple picks to move up to a higher pick and draft a player it had its eyes on. It did so in 2013 when it traded a first-round pick and two future second-round picks to move up three slots to select Kelly Olynyk. In its current situation, Boston has far more firepower.
Say, in a purely hypothetical world, the Celtics wanted to move up a few slots, or even get into the top five, from their first selection at No. 14. In the event that a team ahead of them in the draft order is not in love with the players who are available at the time, it could be interested in trading its pick to Boston in exchange for multiple first-rounders. The Celtics are quite possibly in their best position ever to consolidate picks and move up to a better pick slot.
Trade for a Future First-Rounder
Boston could decide to trade a first-rounder this year for a future first-rounder. Trading a current first-rounder for a future first-rounder would allow Boston to maintain space on its current roster and on its current salary cap, all while maintaining the first-round asset with which it entered the night. A recent example of such a move took place in 2017, when Orlando traded its No. 25 pick to the 76ers in exchange for a 2020 first-rounder and a 2020 second-rounder.
Any Combination of the Above
Seeing as the Celtics own three first-rounders – the most of any team in the league – there is always the possibility that they could utilize multiple options listed above. That’s how much ammunition they have. Boston’s flexibility should create a very intriguing 24 hours for the team leading up to and through the 2019 NBA Draft.