A few weeks ago, I ran a poll here that asked what the Boston Celtics should do with the sixth pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
The majority of readers who voted prefer to see the Celtics trade the pick, and when most of us discuss trading picks we mean that Boston should either try to move up in the draft, or should use the sixth pick as part of a deal that could bring a player such as _______ (insert name of big-name player here) to Titletown.
But what if trading the sixth pick actually meant that the Boston Celtics would move DOWN in the draft? If the Celtics are unable to move up, is trading the sixth pick for a lower one the smartest move for Danny Ainge to make?
In order to answer that question, we have to narrow the list of prospects down to who we think will still be available when the Celtics are on the clock with the sixth pick. Barring an absolute miracle, the Celtics can assume that neither Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, nor Andrew Wiggins will be available outside of the first five picks. Many would also throw Dante Exum’s name into the “guaranteed top five pick” pool, as well, so it’s safe to assume Boston is planning its strategy around the assumption that these four players are gone.
This means the Celtics will be looking at using its first pick in the draft on a player such as Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, or Aaron Gordon. All four of these guys are good young players with plenty of potential – but are they head-and-shoulders better than some of the players that Boston could be picking if the team moved down into the 11-20 spots in the draft?
That, dear readers, is the million dollar question.
Let’s be clear: Vonleh, Randle, Smart, Gordon – these are not franchise players. Each of these players will probably make the Boston Celtics a better team, sure. None are so good that the Celtics’ fanbase will threaten to dump season tickets in the Boston Harbor if Danny Ainge passes on them in the draft, but there is no doubt: these are talented kids.
However, if the Celtics are able to trade down, they could turn one draft pick into two players – for example, they could trade the sixth pick to Denver in exchange for J.J. Hickson or Wilson Chandler plus the 11th pick, which they could use on someone like Nik Stauskas – in the hopes that two good players are greater than one pretty good player.
From what I have heard, the Boston Celtics are high on Aaron Gordon, and the fact that the team is giving Julius Randle a private workout would seem to suggest the same. If Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens and the rest of the front office feel they have a potential All-Star on their hands, they will use the sixth pick accordingly . . . but if not, they might want to see if there are any 2-for-1 sales available come June 26th.