While the season is in full swing (minus a few COVID-19-related game cancellations here and there), there’s always recruiting going on for NBA teams. The Boston Celtics have traditionally preferred to build their team through the draft, with Danny Ainge repeatedly passing on top-billed superstars that would cost him future draft capital.
That strategy has worked in building a team that has been a postseason fixture every season besides the 2013-14 campaign since the dawn of the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Ray Allen “Big 3” Cs in 2007.
Three of the team’s current day starters were drafted by Ainge. Marcus Smart was the sixth pick in 2014, while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were picked third in consecutive years (2016 and 2017).
In recent drafts, Ainge has been hit-or-miss. The 2019 draft brought on only one rotation staple (Grant Williams) in four total picks. 2020, however, may have given the team two long-term fixtures for the franchise moving forward in Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith.
What does the future hold for the Boston Celtics in the 2021 NBA Draft?
In all likelihood, Ainge is going to fail to make a deal to move the Celtics forward before the trade deadline. I hope I’m wrong, and I’ll continue to craft potential deals in the hopes that Ainge himself sees one of them and changes his mind.
I won’t hold my breath, though.
With that said, the odds are high that the Cs will be on the clock in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft.
20. Boston Celtics: Davion Mitchell (Baylor, PG/SG, Junior)
Teams are wondering what type of numbers Mitchell would put up if he weren’t sharing a backcourt with Butler. He had scouts buzzing last week with 31 points against Kansas State, and between his improved playmaking and shooting, plus his reputation as one of the nation’s toughest defenders, he has risen into the first-round discussion.
Mitchell is a slick fit because of the fact that he is not the alpha of the #2 team in the country’s offense. As a sidekick of sorts to Jared Butler, Mitchell is thriving while deferring to teammates–he’s averaging seven assists in his last three games against three solid Power 5 opponents (Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Auburn)–making him the perfect complement to the scoring abilities of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Adding these sorts of role players is exactly what Ainge should do…besides pushing all the chips to the center of the table to get over the hump in the east.
Since he won’t do that, Mitchell is the next best get when the 2021 draft rolls around.