2019 NBA Draft Preview: Who Should the Celtics Draft?
BOSTON - Even though the Boston Celtics didn't end up with Anthony Davis in the New Orleans Pelicans-led trade sweepstakes, we still learned plenty about the team and how Danny Ainge envisions its future during the onslaught of rumors. Boston is fully committed to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the core of the team and the forwards are filling a solid void on the team. Additionally, Ainge has no choice but to bet on Gordon Hayward continuing to return to form because he seems to have lost hope to restructure a deal to retain Al Horford's talents. The team is also prepared to lose Marcus Morris to free agency, as well as Kyrie Irving, who has essentially "ghosted" the Celtics' front office.
In my mind, this leaves two core needs for the Celtics to address during the off-season and potentially during the draft: a scoring point guard (Marcus Smart is a lock down defender and Terry Rozier is, well, not the answer) and an athletic big man (Horford is a worthy veteran, but still a veteran). Obviously, the team can unload some assets to acquire these holes via trade (looking at you D'Angelo Russell), but the draft is two days away so we have to act like the Celtics will stand pat with their current picks.
The Celtics have four draft picks this year, including three in the first round (the 14th, 20th, 22nd, and 51st picks). But who should they select?
Because of this potential interest in Russell, I think the Celtics will go after a power forward or center first, and with Zion Williamson projected to go number one, I predict Boston will select will draft Jaxson Hayes, a nearly seven foot tall center out of Texas. He may not fall to the 14th pick, but if he does, his athleticism, length, and defensive prowess would fit into Brad Stevens' schemes perfectly. It would be more ideal to pair Hayes with Horford, but he'd be a good pick in any situation.
Other potential Celtics selections could include P.J. Washington of Kentucky, Rui Hachimura of Gonzaga, and Bol Bol of Oregon.
As for the guards, this is a rather weak year for point guards in the draft. If the Celtics do decide to pursue a point guard, they should save the selection for one of their later picks in the draft. Their two best options seem to be Ty Jerome and Carsen Edwards. Jerome led Virginia to the 2019 NCAA title, but he is more of a traditional point guard and not one that would necessarily spark the Celtics' offense. Edwards, on the other hand, was a prolific scorer at Purdue and could replace Irving's stat lines, if not his overall game-changing ability.
With so many high picks, the Celtics are in a better position than most ahead of this year's NBA Draft and whoever they select will surely be eager to contribute to the Boston cause.
Image via Flickr / Michael Tipton