By Christopher Frangolini
The future of the Boston Celtics will be decided on Tuesday: the NBA Draft Lottery. Can the ping pong balls bounce in their favor or will history repeat itself?
In the 2007 lottery, coming off a 24-58 record (second-worst record) the season before, the Celtics landed fifth despite holding a 19.90% chance at the number one pick. Greg Oden was taken first, followed by Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley and Jeff Green (Green was taken by the Celtics, who later traded him for Ray Allen).
Again in 1997, the Celtics owned the second-worst record from the year before (15-67), a 27.51% chance for the number one pick. They ended up third and missed on Tim Duncan.
Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant are two superstars and future hall of famers that could have possibly been Celtics.
The Celtics have been in the lottery eight times since 1997, but the 2007 and 1997 lotteries are of importance because they sat, both times, at the second pre-draft lottery position and slid up.
Could this happen again?
For the rest of this piece, I will explain options the Celtics should entertain.
What if the draft pick lands in the top-3? What players stick out?
There are four guys that stick out to me, Ben Simmons (LSU), Brandon Ingram (Duke), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma) and Jamal Murray (Kentucky) are all players the Celtics should take a hard look at. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe has reported that the Celtics have or will meet with at least three of those players, excluding Simmons.
So who are they?
Ben Simmons is a 6-10 talented point-forward. He averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting .560% from the field. The only knock I have on him is that he chose to go to LSU and be the number one guy, but could not lead them to the NCAA tournament.
Brandon Ingram is probably the second-best fit for the Celtics. The Duke star averaged over 17 points in his only collegiate year of basketball. He is a defensive nightmare and can shoot the ball efficiently. If he gains 25 pounds he could be an all-star in a few seasons.
Buddy Hield averaged 25.0 points per game in his senior season at Oklahoma, second-best in Division 1 college basketball. He’s a pure scorer who shot .501% from the field and .457% from downtown. He is, however, 22 years old, which sometimes scares teams away, which usually like to draft younger (I prefer an experienced player). He could be a great fit in Green.
Jamal Murray is a smart scorer and scouts rave about his basketball IQ. He averaged 20 points and 5.2 rebounds at Kentucky. He could be the not-so-flashy Ben Simmons or Buddy Hield pick the Celtics wouldn’t be afraid to make.
Analysis: If the draft lottery pick lands in the top three, doesn’t mean they actually have to select a player: I think it means they should trade it. The Celtics will be entering their fourth season in the post-Paul Pierce/Doc Rivers-era. They have already made the jump to the postseason each of the last two seasons, expediting the rebuild. At this point, they need to win now, not develop a player down the road. A top-3 draft pick could entice some value on the market.
Beantown Blitz will break down top free agents the Celtics should pursue next week.