The Boston Celtics Should Not Move Up in the Draft


The Boston Celtics are better off with their two first round picks at 16 and 28 than trading assets for a lottery pick. The 2015 NBA Entry Draft is extremely top-heavy, specifically the top three picks, and after that there is a pretty diverse spread of talent at each position.

I, like most Celtics fans, would love to see Willie Cauley-Stein come to Boston, but I don’t think that it is a risk the Celtics should take. It would cost them at least both of their first round picks, or potentially one of the two increasingly valuable Brooklyn first round picks. Brooklyn, being one of the few teams in the Eastern Conference that is showing no signs of improving their roster this offseason, has picks that are all-but guaranteed to be top 10 and likely even top five.

Apr 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) goes up for a shot during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers of the 2015 NCAA Men

The Celtics won’t trade those picks unless it is for a sure thing; unfortunately, Willie Cauley-Stein is far from a sure thing. He is a proven lock-down defender in the paint, which is definitely something the Celtics could use. With that said, Stein’s rebounding leaves something to be desired. Despite being 7’1″ and 242 pounds, he averaged just 6.4 rebounds per game. To his credit, approximately one third of those rebounds came on the offensive side of the court; something the Celtics could desperately use.

The biggest question mark about Stein is his offensive ability. He doesn’t really have an established set of post-moves, and he doesn’t have too much of a shot either. He showed flashes of brilliance on the offensive end of the court, but ultimately he is inconsistent. As much as the Celtics could use Stein’s rim protection, they need a center who can score too.

The 16th pick in the draft can be used on any number of extremely effective players. Many of these players are just as good as Stein, if not better, and would not require Boston to give up any assets. This would allow Boston to hold on to those assets and use them towards trading for players who are already established in the NBA.

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Bobby Portis is one player who would be a great addition to the Celtics lineup. The power forward averaged 17.5 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game in his sophomore year at Arkansas. He has a player efficiency rating of 30, as opposed to Willie Cauley-Stein’s 24.3.

Portis is also quite fast for his size. He always hustles back on defense, which is definitely something the Celtics look for in their players. He is just extremely agile, which is something I would argue most of the Boston bigs lack. A lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Bobby Portis, and Tyler Zeller would be the ultimate hustle lineup, and it would be pretty lethal.

R.J. Hunter is another player who I really like for the Celtics. Even though they drafted a shooting guard last year, Hunter is one of the best shooters who is flying below the radar in this year’s draft. The Celtics could really use a sharp-shooter, and I think Hunter could be just that. He has a quick release pretty similar to that of Stephen Curry. Most importantly, Hunter hit one of the biggest shots of this years NCAA Tournament.

The only reason I can see the Celtics passing on R.J. Hunter is because they still have faith that James Young will figure out his game and produce at an NBA level. Personally, I wouldn’t be upset if they shipped James Young off in a deal for another player and used the 16th pick to take Hunter.

If Boston decides to go for a big player in the draft, which is very likely, there are a few more options outside of Bobby Portis, who could easily go earlier than the 16th pick. Myles Turner would be a perfect fit for the Celtics if he isn’t already taken. He plays solid offense, averaging 10.4 points per game, and also locks down the paint, averaging 2.7 blocks per game for Texas. He also, like Willie Cauley-Stein, contributed 6.4 rebounds per game.

Like Portis, Turner is agile for his size. He can get up and down the court with ease. He would also fit perfectly in to the Celtics roster because he has good range. He can shoot mid-range jump shots therefore freeing space up in the paint. He’s also very good at boxing out players who are bigger or stronger than him. Turner strikes me as a guy who’s game will translate well to the NBA, allowing him to make an immediate impact on whatever team he lands with.

Apr 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Trey Lyles (41) dunks the ball during the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers of the 2015 NCAA Men

Trey Lyles would be another option for Boston, even though reports are surfacing saying that the Knicks might draft him fourth overall. If that doesn’t happen, Lyles is projected to go sometime in the mid-10’s, giving the Celtics a shot at him. I’m actually not 100 percent sold on Lyles, and I can’t figure out from the life of me why the Knicks would pick him fourth overall.

Lyles is definitely good on the offensive end of the court, but he has some lapses on defense. I think the Celtics really need a good two-way player, but perhaps they could create one out of Lyles. I think young players who come to Boston relate to Brad Stevens, and are willing to learn his play-style and buy in to his system. For that reason, I think that Lyles could be a good fit at the power forward position for the Celtics.

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  • There is one final reason why I don’t see a need for the Celtics to trade up in the draft. Outside of the top three-or-so picks, many of the most succesful NBA players end up going in the mid-first round. Examples include: last year, Zach LaVine and Jusuf Nurkic going 13 and 16. In 2013, one of the most promising upcoming NBA big men Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted 15th overall. In 2012, the Celtics used the 21st pick to draft Jared Sullinger, while Tyler Zeller went at number 17.

    Lastly, and my favorite reason for why the Celtics should stay in the middle of the first round rather than trade up: Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 NBA Entry Draft. There are plenty of good players for the Celtics to take without giving up any of their massive stock-pile of draft picks. Instead, they can keep those draft picks and use them for proven NBA players instead of potential ones.

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