At the conclusion of the NBA Draft, Danny Ainge and his staff have stated what their focuses for the Boston Celtics will be moving forward.
While the Boston Celtics’ draft selections may have come out of left field to some, their skill sets are versatile enough to be able to contribute right away no matter what the rest of the roster looks like. We’ll start with Romeo Langford.
A fair warning before I continue, by no means, am I college basketball expert, and the conclusions I’ve drawn about following prospects were made indulging in highlights at 3AM. There, you have been warned.
Langford’s skill set includes an elite slashing ability, scoring, drawing fouls, defensive potential, and a bit of playmaking. The biggest hole in his game is his three-point shooting, where he shot 27% from three in his one season at Indiana.
However, it is noteworthy that Langford played through a torn ligament in his thumb on his shooting hand. Over his last 12 collegiate games, he got that percentage up to thirty-five.
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Combine that decent stretch with his 72% free throw shooting (always a good indicator of shooting potential), and it’s possible for Langford to become a solid NBA shooter if he puts in the work.
If you want more concrete evidence, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, to different degrees, were considered hopeless or terrible shooters in their careers. Brown’s three-point shot has translated every year of his career thus far, and Smart finally shot above league average at 36%.
More importantly, Kyrie Irving is as good as gone, no one should be pretending anymore. Regardless of how you felt about him this season, that’s a lot of buckets walking out the door. This is why the Langford pick makes sense compared to someone like Brandon Clarke.
Langford can immediately give you offensive production at every level, things that Boston will need with Irving out of the picture. Langford got to the line six times per game while at Indiana. Free throw attempts are a luxury that has eluded the Celtics for quite some time aside from Isaiah Thomas’ tenure in Boston.
I see the complaints about a logjam on the wings again. Marcus Morris’ imminent departure combined with Marcus Smart needing to take on more point guard duties will leave Langford as the teams backup shooting guard.
There is no need to worry about a logjam on the wing.
Pivoting to Boston’s other first-round pick, Grant Williams who has Celtic written all over him.
If it didn’t become apparent when he gave his own spiel about the history of the Celtics, Williams is going to become a fan favorite. Standing at 6’7, he’s a bit undersized for an NBA big, but he’s got all the skills in the world at his disposal.
My (again not expert) comparison for Williams is a Draymond Green type player as his ceiling. Very intelligent, can pass, shoot, rebound, and boy can he defend. Brad Stevens himself said Williams has the mind of a point guard. Worst case scenario, he turns into PJ Tucker.
It’s not the flashiest pick in the world, but you can see Brad Stevens had a strong say in who was selected in this years Draft. Versatile players who can do everything on the basketball court has always been the Brad Stevens mantra.
A player like Williams is perfect to try and fill in the void left behind by Al Hereford’s departure.
Not to mention that all draft selections have been touted as high character guys; including the second round picks.
Carson Edwards and Tremont Waters are both miniature point guards who can score the rock. Edwards especially, who had a memorable performance in the NCAA tournament where he put up 42 points against Virginia, while averaging around 34 PPG for the 2018-2019 season.
Where does that leave the rest of the roster? This is where things stand as of June 23, 2019.
Point Guards: Marcus Smart, Carson Edwards, Tremont Waters
Shooting Guards: Jaylen Brown, Romeo Langford
Small Forwards: Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Semi Ojeleye
Power Forwards: Grant Williams, Guershon Yabusele
Centers: Robert Williams
That’s an 11 man roster with huge holes at point guard and center, and after the Aron Baynes transaction, approximately $34M in cap space.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t a clue what the rest of this roster will look like in the end. I am confident when I say none of the current players on the roster will be involved in trades.
While Boston likely won’t be a title contender this year barring a surprise superstar acquisition, it’s become clear that Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge want to re-establish a great culture that was compromised during last season’s circus.
Rejuvenating the culture will bode well for player development in the long term, and will play a factor in future free agent signings.
While it is possible the Boston becomes a dumping ground for bad contracts to accumulate assets, Celtic’s majority owner Wyk Grosbeak’s recent comments elude to more of a re-tooling of the roster, and not a rebuild.
It has been rumored that the Celtics will target Orlando Magic big man, Nikola Vucevic if he and the Magic cannot come to terms on a new contract.
Vucevic could replicate a lot of the offensive skills that made Al Horford such a great fit with Boston, though he is not in the same stratosphere defensively as Horford.
Vucevic is the most expensive target for the Celtics in my estimation, and you could fill out the rest of the roster with more depth if they decide to target other players.
Having a max slot doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sign a max player. What having a max contract slot also means is you can overspend on restricted free agents, someone like Malcolm Brogdon immediately comes to mind.
Milwaukee is going to have a tough time retaining Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Brogdon. Forcing their hand with Brogdon could ultimately prove useful, as he fills a need at point guard and lines up age-wise with the rest of the roster.
Then you could use the rest of that money to go after another impact rotation player. Someone like Kevon Looney, who will be hard for the Golden State Warriors to hold onto, will get some great offers this summer.
Looney is one of the most versatile defensive bigs in the NBA and would help the Celtics become one of the top defenses in the league like they were before their inconsistent efforts in 2019.
D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and of course, Terry Rozier are also viable options for the Celtics to spend their money on.
While the final product that takes the stage to start the 2019-2020 hasn’t yet taken shape, It’s become a little more clear who the names on the roster could be.
For the time being, the Celtics do not appear to be a championship contender. The acquisition of high character, high impact players through the draft is an excellent way to establish a stable base to mold your team around its new young stars, especially after last season’s toxic meltdown.
If you’re ready to embrace the scrappy, fun, non-contender Boston Celtics again, then they’ll be prepared to make it all worthwhile.