Danny Ainge was heavily criticized for his picks, but did he really blow it? What we expected were fireworks… What we got was more of a camp fire. And the Bulls’ GM Gar Forman was telling spooky stories about our darkest trade nightmares as we watched our social media feeds burn.
What we expected were fireworks… What we got was more of a camp fire. And the Bulls’ GM Gar Forman was telling spooky stories about our darkest trade nightmares as we watched our social media feeds burn.
Woah. But please, tell me more about how we are over valuing our assets.
There’s a lot to digest after this draft, but I think Danny did a much better job than he’s getting credit for. He really swung for the fences with one of the first rounders, but I’m excited to see what these players can do in the summer league. Now that the dust has settled, let’s try to make sense of everything, starting with the coveted #3 pick.
#3 - Jaylen Brown:
The first two picks went as expected, and then Danny Ainge melted the internet. Ignore the media noise (says the guy on the internet): this was a great pick. The media narrative said that Boston would take a shooter, but there is sound reasoning to take a talent like Jaylen Brown. The Celtics already have strong core of guards in Smart, Bradley, and Thomas, and when we look at all the trade possibilities that fell through (and the fact that Thomas is untouchable), we have no choice but to assume that they’re going to be our guards moving forward. If Evan Turner gets paid (doubtful, but possible), that makes four guards if you ignore his listing as a small forward.
If you look at where the team is really hurting, it’s at the forward positions. Jared Sullinger with his weight issue and Tyler Zeller with his not-being-a-part-of-the-rotation issue both have expiring contracts. Amir Johnson’s $12 million and Jonas Jerebko’s $5million for next season are non-guaranteed and Evan Turner is an unrestricted free agent with a big price tag. Don’t forget about the time that David Lee fellow got waived. There are going to be spots to fill at these positions, and I think a backup for Crowder and a replacement for Sullinger are the team’s top priorities, and Brown could be the back-up forward we’re looking for. He’s 6-7 and explosive. I’m talking Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 Xxplosive. He’s not the shooter we expected to get, but let’s be honest: the need for a shooter has been blown out of proportion. The Celtics can put a lot of points on the board in a hurry with or without the next coming of Ray Allen. Brown might be a project but athletes with his kind of potential rarely slide down the draft.
#16 - Guerschon Yabusele:
2 cups heavy cream
1 pinch of salt
¼ cup of white sugar…
Oh wait, that’s a basketball player? Apparently so, and he’s a bruiser. At 6’8”, 260 lbs, add him to the list of guys who were scouted to be the next Draymond Green-type of player. In the era of positionless basketball, we’ve learned that height doesn’t always dominate the paint, but strength does. Yabusele isn’t strictly a post player, he’s got a great outside shot as well, but he has a body the allows for him to work in the post. Danny doesn’t often draft internationally, so this is unfamiliar territory, but I’m not getting any Andrea Bargnani vibes from this guy. This selection felt like Danny was swinging for the fences, so we’ll have to wait and see where the ball lands.
#23 - Ante Zizic:
No foreigner jokes this time, because this guy is the business. Zizic is 6'11", runs the floor, and is a great rebounder. In other words, the ideal center. He doesn’t bring much on the offensive end – not yet anyway – but this roster isn’t dependent on interior scoring. However, there is a lack of physicality when it comes to interior defense, especially with the possibility of Sullinger leaving. Zizic has a strong frame for a 19 year old and isn’t somebody who backs down from playing physical basketball. I can’t predict what ultimately happens with Zeller and Olynyk, but I don’t see much lock-down defense in their future whether they stay or go. He might not go full Biyombo, but probably won’t go full Fab Melo, either. If I were Zeller or Jerebko, I would be worried about these skilled big men coming in.
#31/35 - Deyonta Davis/Rade Zagorac:
Traded for a Clippers pick in 2019. Best case scenario is the Clippers are mediocre that year and we get a mid first rounder. Given how dysfunctional that organization is (Love ya, Doc), I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re a few years away from hitting the reset button. I’m not the kind of person who complains about players we passed on five years after we passed on them, so I’m not digging too deep into this. Moving on.
#45 - Demetrius Jackson:
If you’ve been watching Celtics basketball for the past couple of years, chances are you’ve developed an affinity for high energy point guards. Jackson was projected to go much higher than this by some experts, so I’m curious as to why he fell to 45, but regardless, he’s another explosive player as well as an aggressive defender. He fits the mold of a Celtics guard perfectly, the only problem being there are a lot of Celtics guards. We know Ainge can’t resist picking a guy who was once rated way higher than his actual draft day stock (see: Sullinger, Olynyk), so I can see why he took Jackson. I doubt we see much of him after this summer, but maybe he can take Rozier’s job after a year in the D-League.
#51 – Ben Bentil
Can I get a hell yeah? I wrote about Ben Bentil a few weeks ago as a draft target that I suggested the Celtics should take in the 31-35 range, but after we traded those picks, I assumed Ainge had no interest in him. Apparently I was wrong, and I have no earthly idea how Bentil fell all the way to the bottom 10 picks. 21 points per game and eight boards playing for a highly ranked Providence team alongside fifth-pick Kris Dunn somehow led him to being the 51st pick overall. Bentil is a Jae Crowder-sized dynamic scorer who can defend his own position well, but will likely be molded into a multi-positional defender at the NBA level. He also fills the need of “somebody who might actually score at the small forward position if Jae gets hurt again”.
#58 - Abdel Nader
From what I can tell, Nader was a solid shooter at Iowa State last year. At #58 overall, anything Nader contributes is a bonus. You can’t assume Nader won’t amount to anything as a late second rounder when Isaiah Thomas plays for your favorite team, but the Celtics can only hang onto so many of these young players.
Danny Ainge got a lot of backlash last night for not pulling off a big trade despite the absurd asking price for Butler. Not many details leaked on any other trade fronts except for a possible trade with Philly to give them the third pick for Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, and more picks. Also, how can you criticize Danny for drafting a forward if he almost traded the pick for a deal revolving around another forward? Do we value Covington that highly? (Correct answer: No)
Anyway, I trust Ainge’s judgement and I can assure you that he addressed the team’s needs to the best of his ability in this draft. Whether or not the players pan out is always another story, but I don’t understand how you can look at who he picked and not be satisfied.