Boston Celtics Should Trade Up for Willie Cauley-Stein


Before this season began it was almost a consensus though that the Boston Celtics would be competing for a lottery draft pick. As the season started it appeared as though the Celtics would stay true to that narrative.

Danny Ainge was going in full force, trading away the team’s two top players at the time in Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. The Celtics sold out and gathered just an absurd collection of assets. The Celtics have more cap space and draft picks than anyone else and even though the Celtics fought their way out of a lottery pick they are still in the best position in the league to rebuild.

Nov 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) and forward Jeff Green (8) return up court against the Toronto Raptors in the first half at TD Garden. The Toronto Raptors defeated the Boston Celtics 110-107. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics could use their picks the traditional way and attempt to find a gem in the middle of the first round. The alternative would be to trade up and there is no team in the league that is in a better position to trade up. The Celtics have more ammunition to throw at teams in the draft lottery and if they choose to trade up they can find an immediate contributor.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are as close as you can get to a lock for the top two picks and if the Celtics want to go after one of them they will have to give up more than any team should be willing to part with.

Fortunately, the Celtics can avoid giving up too much and while they may not get the once in a generation type prospect, they should go after the most NBA ready player in the draft: Willie Cauley-Stein.

The number one reason the Celtics should go after Cauley-Stein is simple and essential, defense. The Celtics do not have anything that resembles a threatening defensive presence in the paint and even in his rookie season Cauley-Stein would change that perception. Cauley-Stein is 7 feet tall and 240 pounds and he should only continue to develop physically.

Mar 28, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) dunks against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the finals of the midwest regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats tormented the NCAA with their ability to block shots and that all started with Cauley-Stein. Jae Crowder is a great defender but it is usually not a good sign when a 6-7 small forward is leading the team with 0.8 blocks per game.

Cauley-Stein will immediately change how offenses will attack the Celtics and he will cause even more problems than just protecting the rim.

Cauley-Stein has the rare ability to cover any position on the floor. His size and athleticism gives him an advantage on almost anyone and that combined with his length and speed is an absolute nightmare.

Cauley-Stein really blows away the rest of the defensive competition in this year’s draft. Cauley-Stein had the number two defensive rating, the number one block percentage, was number one in defensive win shares and was in the top 10 of steal percentage, rebounding percentage and offensive rebounding percentage in the SEC.

Cauley-Stein could come to the Celtics as a rookie and become arguably their most important player (other than a potential max contract free agent). Cauley-Stein would surely lead the team in rebounding and blocks and the way he would impact the overall team defense would be invaluable.

Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder are already great defenders for the Celtics and they did that without any rim protection behind them. The presence of Cauley-Stein will certainly lead to more success by the smaller defenders and will give them a security blanket opening up more opportunities to take risks.

Feb 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (left) and guard Marcus Smart against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Celtics defeats the Suns 115-110. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As great as Cauley-Stein is defensively is it a lot more difficult to see him fitting in with the Celtics offensively. Cauley-Stein does not stretch the floor and truly lives in the paint. Fortunately, Cauley-Stein has already proven that he does not need the offense to run through him and he has no problem buying into a great team system.

The Celtics have plenty of bigs that can stretch the floor and Cauley-Stein could be a refreshing change of pace.

Having Cauley-Stein under Brad Stevens is also a match made in heaven. Stevens is the only coach that comes even close to the platooning type system that Calipari ran in Kentucky. Stevens always uses all the players available to him and ensures that there are always fresh legs on the floor.

Apr 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari (right) gives instruction to forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) in the first half of the 2015 NCAA Men

There may be times when Stevens will rather go to his bigs that can stretch the floor and it is comforting to know that Cauley-Stein is willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

It will take a miracle for Cauley-Stein to be available if the Celtics do not trade up in the draft and given the unbelievable amount of resources collected by the Celtics they are in a fantastic position to go and get the man that will help their team the most in this draft.

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