The Celtics enter the 2019 NBA Draft with three picks, slated at No. 14 via the Sacramento Kings (which had a one percent chance of being second, third or fourth overall), No. 20 via the Los Angeles Clippers and their own pick at No. 22.
Boston could have had the No. 9 pick from the Grizzlies as well, but lost that when Memphis moved up to second in the draft. (Which was a good thing for the C’s because now that pick moves to the 2020 draft and is protected through the first six picks, as opposed to the top-8 this year. If the pick lands in the top-6 in 2020, the pick will be unprotected in 2021.)
With Kyrie Irving’s future uncertain, Terry Rozier pretty much completely ruling out a return and Boston needing help down low with Al Horford’s contract nearing its end and Aron Baynes always prone to injury, there are a few ways the Celtics can go with the 2019 NBA Draft.
Here are 10 players they could go after in the first round:
Sekou Doumouya, Forward, France
Doumouya’s 6’9”, 210-pound build makes the 18-year-old a prime target for the Celtics. But it’s more than likely he won’t contribute to the Celtics right away. He still has some room to grow, but his ceiling makes him a desirable, even before Boston’s first pick rolls around. The question marks may present the C’s with the opportunity to take Doumouya and develop him as the C’s try to get back on track in 2019-20.
Rui Hachimura, Forward, Gonzaga
Hachimura could make an impact in the NBA quicker than Doumouya, but he doesn’t appear to have the same level of potential. He’s not much of a long-range threat; as much as he shot 41.7 percent from three last year, he only averaged one attempt per game. Hachimura is more about finishing at the rim. He’s 6’8”, 230 pounds, so he could be helpful defensively in the paint and may be able to guard more athletic wings, eventually.
PJ Washington, Forward, Kentucky
Washington is the same height as Hachimura and pretty much the same weight (228 pounds according to his profile on Kentucky’s roster). But he projects to be a better offensive talent, after improving on his three-point game from freshman year (23.8 percent) to sophomore year (42.3 percent). He can handle wings in possession well, too. He might be the best pick for the Celtics in the bunch, but the problem with that: another team may wise up and take him before No. 14.
Brandon Clarke, Forward, Gonzaga
Whether you look at the numbers from his first two seasons at San Jose State or his last year at Gonzaga, it’s clear Clarke isn’t a three-point shooter. He’s immensely efficient from inside (70.5 percent within the arc in 2018-19) and has a sleek 6’8”, 215-pound build to go with his strong defensive capabilities. He may first be drafted among the four forwards on this list, but given what the others bring to the table, Clarke may be the fourth-best overall talent among them.
Romeo Langford, Guard, Indiana
Langford seems least likely of the three, but Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren got a look at Langford back in January, according to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. This guy supposedly has some serious potential, yet he wasn’t all that great in his one season at Indiana. He could be another project for the Celtics, with maybe more risk than Doumouya.
Other (Unlikely) Options: If Nassir Little (forward, North Carolina) slips he could be the best pick for the C’s at No. 14. He’s raw, which is good in some ways, but also means he’ll need some time. But him slipping this far is a big “if.”
Mfiondu Kabengele out of Florida State is another guy that might work for the C’s. He’s a 6’9” post player, but his value ranges from pick No. 14 to the end of the draft. He may be a bit of a reach at No. 14 and more likely to go at No. 20 or 22.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Guard/Forward, Virginia Tech
He’s a good shooter, but he leans on that a lot because his lack of strength makes it harder for him to create space at the rim. Now, that might be something he can address with age, but adding size could create different problems. There’s a chance the C’s could wait on him at No. 22, as well.
Kevin Porter Jr., Guard, USC
Porter has the talent and the build to be an effective guard in the NBA, but he apparently has somewhat of an attitude problem. He was suspended back in January for an undisclosed conduct issue. Can’t imagine the Celtics want to deal with someone like that after the 2018-19 season. But, the kid can shoot from three (41.2 percent in 2018-19), is as athletic as anyone in this area of the draft and is only 19.
Jontay Porter, Center, Missouri
Jontay Porter comes with a different set of baggage than the previously mentioned Porter Jr. He could provide the C’s a big body that can do a little bit of everything. The reason he’s not expected to go higher in the draft is he’s torn his ACL — twice. And the second time was back in March. If he can recover properly and develop as expected, he might have the most upside of any of these possible picks.
Keldon Johnson, Guard/Forward, Kentucky
Johnson’s biggest weakness is his inability to create his own shot. That’s a pretty significant drawback when assessing a potential NBA wing. However, he’s still a good shooter and is a versatile defender.
Grant Williams, Forward, Tennessee
Williams is only a fit for the Celtics if none of the aforementioned options at picks 20 and 22 are unavailable. He doesn’t have a high ceiling. He does everything he can to make up for that with smarts and grit. Oddly enough, he has the makeup of a fan favorite, but something says Danny Ainge isn’t factoring that in when he drafts a player.
Other Option: In addition to Mfiondu Kabengele possibly slipping this far, there’s a chance Bruno Fernando, a 6’10”, 240-pound forward from Maryland, could, as well. He’s another guy that could go sooner in the draft, but it’s looking more and more likely he’ll be a late first-rounder. In the same game where the Celtics reportedly got a look at Romeo Langford, Boston had a chance to look at Fernando while his Terrapins faced the Hoosiers.
Full article @ 2019 NBA Draft: 10 players Celtics could target in first round
Source: GreenStreet Blog