How Far Could Willie Cauley-Stein Drop?


The Boston Celtics have always been surrounded by trade up rumours. Their flurry of draft picks and young players gives them plenty of options to trade up almost anywhere in the draft.

One player that the Celtics are suspected to be targeting in a trade up is Willie Cauley-Stein. Early reports were suggesting that in order to acquire Cauley-Stein the Celtics would likely have to work out a deal with the New York Knicks with the fourth pick. The good news is that many believe that unless a miracle happens and Jahlil Okafor falls to number four the Knicks will want to make a trade.

Apr 6, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) fouls Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor (15) in the act of shooting during the second half in the 2015 NCAA Men

Well, things have started to trend down for the defensive superstar and that could be good news for the Celtics. Reports have recently come out that Cauley-Stein’s draft stock has been falling due to his medical history. It’s reached the point where Draft Express has Kentucky’s big man falling all the way down to the Indiana Pacers with the 11th pick.

Perhaps the Celtics will be one of the teams scared away by Cauley-Stein’s medical history but if they have no problem with the added risk there is a legitimate chance that they could get the best defensive player in the draft by trading up to the number 9 pick, held by the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets are another team that the Celtics have already been linked to potentially working out a deal with. There is still no guarantee that Cauley-Stein will drop that far but if the Celtics are presented with an opportunity to work out a deal with the Hornets that will allow them to bring Cauley-Stein to Boston they will have to jump at it.

Talent wise, Cauley-Stein is certainly a top 5 pick and is arguably the most NBA ready player in the draft, especially on the defensive end. The Celtics also have their eyes on Bobby Portis with the 16th pick and that is one of the only realistic situations where the Celtics may be wise to avoid Cauley-Stein.

Mar 19, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Bobby Portis (10) looks for an open teammate as Wofford Terriers forward C.J. Neumann (31) defends in the second half of a game in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Jacksonville Veteran Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It will be very difficult for the Celtics to find an immediate contributor with the 16th pick and Portis’ draft stock has been on the rise. Unless the Celtics get the sense that they will be able to get Portis at 16 trading up will be their best option.

There are other potential trade up targets if the Celtics make a deal with the Hornets, such as Myles Turner or even Mario Hezonja but neither of those guys will have as immediate of an impact as Cauley-Stein.

Cauley-Stein fills the Celtics’ most dire need as a rim protector and a rebounder. He will also be the team’s most athletically gifted player and even if he can’t stretch the floor, Brad Stevens will find a way to optimize his athleticism on the offensive end.

If Cauley-Stein is available at the 9th pick and the Hornets are still interested in trading their pick the Celtics need to make their move to get their guy. Cauley-Stein is worth the medical risk, especially considering it is not as sever as recent prospect Nerlens Noel who is quickly becoming a dominant big man.

The Celtics have the assets to take a risk and trading up to number 9 will not be so expensive that it will kill the rest of their draft. Cauley-Stein may not make the Celtics contenders immediately but he can be one of the most important pieces in elevating them to that level.

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