Grading the Celtics Draft

By Christopher Frangolini

With the 2016 NBA Draft in the rare view mirror, it’s time for Beantown Blitz to assign a letter grade to the Boston Celtics’ selections.

The Green team had an eventful night in Brooklyn, entering the evening with eight of the available 60 draft slots, a draft record. The team ended up making six picks and traded the 31st (Deyonta Davis) and 35th (Rade Zagorac) overall picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for a first-round (lottery protected) pick in 2019 (but could turn into second rounder).

With Ben Simmons (LSU) and Brandon Ingram (Duke) unsurprisingly off the board with the first two picks, respectively, the Celtics frantically entered trade talks with Philadelphia and Chicago before ultimately staying put with number three.

The 76ers were interested in moving up to select Providence’s Kris Dunn. They offered Nerlens Noel and picks 24 and 26 to Boston for the third pick.

The Bulls also made Jimmy Butler available to the Celtics, but were unable to strike a deal.

The Sports Hub’s (98.5 FM) Jimmy Stewart speculated that the Bulls were asking for picks 3, 16, 23, next year’s Brooklyn pick and Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.

In all likelihood, the Celtics made the right move by not trading for Jimmy Butler. Of course, Butler is a superstar and could have been the first domino in attracting other free agents, but moving Bradley, Crowder and Smart is just too much of your core. The three combined for 38.5 points per game, but were most noted for their defense. Smart still has the potential to become a top 12-guard, which means now is not time to give up on him. Bradley is regarded as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and Crowder is an all-around player, an ultimate utility man on a very team-friendly contract.

Instead, the Celtics shocked their fans and selected forward Jaylen Brown from California with the third pick. And their fans let them hear it.

With lots of mock drafts leaning towards Dunn, Dragan Bender or Jamal Murray, the Celtics went with need instead of best available. It’s really not a terrible pick if you factor in the lack of talent at forward and the fact that Jared Sullinger may not return.

“The only thing that I don’t like about that is that it’s a reflection of Jaylen. Instead of a reflection of me — like, ‘We don’t like your choice.’ That’s OK to boo me. But, ‘Give [Brown] a chance’ would be the only thing I would say. Like, let’s see. Let’s wait a year, then boo me. Let’s not boo the kid when his name is announced,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. “As far as criticism in my position, I expect it, I’m used to it, and I don’t think [media members] can offend me. You can try, but I don’t think it’ll work.”

The real downward-spiral, head-scratching picks came with the 16th (Guerschon Yabusele) and 23rd (Ante Zagorac) picks. The Celtics decided to take back-to-back draft and stash International players. Yabusele (France) and Zagorac (Serbia) may not be NBA-ready, which means they will return overseas to play.

First Round:

Pick 3: Jaylen Brown (Forward), California

Pick 16: Guerschon Yabusele (Forward), France

Pick 23: Ante Zizic (Forward), Serbia

They most likely will not have a spot on the pro roster this season and even the Maine Red Claws have a roster limit so this could be Danny Ainge thinking two-three years down the line with overseas talent. Not good picks when the post Doc Rivers-Paul Pierce-era rebuild has already been expedited with back-to-back playoff appearances.

First Round Grade:

I give the Celtics a D- for a first round grade. Brice Johnson UNC) was still on the board at 23, but instead they went International. They made the right move by turning down Chicago’s ridiculous trade offer, but they should have entertained Philadelphia’s a little more. The Celtics could have taken those picks and packaged them together to try and get back into the top-10.

Second Round:

Pick 45: Demetrius Jackson (Guard), Notre Dame

Pick 51: Ben Bentil (Forward), Providence

Pick 58: Abdel Nader (Forward), Iowa

I think most Celtics fans tuned out of the draft and labeled the night “disappointing” after the first round. But I think they had a better second round than first. They opened the second round with a trade sending picks 31 and 35 to Memphis for a future lottery-protected first-round pick in 2019, that could possibly turn into a second-rounder.

Why? Don’t you own enough future draft picks? The 31st selection was Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis, who could have been a good fit with the Celtics.

Jackson at 45 was not a bad selection. Undersized at 6-foot-2, the guard averaged 15.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game as a junior for the Irish.


Bentil at 6-foot-8 and Nader at 6-foot-6 could be good depth players eventually. Due to roster shake ups it will be tough for them to contribute right away, but they could be stashed away in Maine in the development league.

Kris Dunn, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera
Providence guard Kris Dunn (3) blocks a shot by Georgetown guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Providence, R.I., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Second Round Grade:

Although not a great overall round, it was not as bad as the first. I give the Celtics a C-. It was obvious that the Celtics would make a trade so that they would not make all eight of their draft selections, but their was still good value on the board to open the round. Hopefully in 2019 the Celtics have a chance to land a lottery-pick.

Now the real work begins. Just because the Celtics didn’t make any franchise-changing trades does not mean they won’t, or at the very least sign a max free-agent.

“We’re not done,” Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said. “What happens next week? We have room for two max guys. The thinking and trying to improve the team starts next week in free agency.

“We’ll see if we can get anyone to come, and we’re going to work hard on that.”

“No. Absolutely not,” said Danny Ainge. “We haven’t even begun free agency. The summertime is when most deals and most things are done to build your roster. We have a lot of cap flexibility, so we’re certainly not done.”



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