Boston Celtics: Sharife Cooper-Cs second unit belong together

Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

At 26-26, the Boston Celtics have proven capable of beating bad teams, but have struggled with the top squads in the Eastern Conference. Collectively 2-7 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, and Milwaukee Bucks–who are the three most likely first-round opponents should the Cs qualify for the postseason–Boston is not looking like a team that has the necessary juice to fuel a run to the Eastern Conference crown.

Next year could be a different story, though.

The foundation of a formidable foe to the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, and NBA as a whole is present. Two All-Stars, a former Defensive Player of the Year, and a potential difference-maker at the 5 (Time Lord, not Tristan Thompson so we’re clear) make Boston a team with a clear path to figuring things out.

That won’t happen unless the key issues plaguing the current roster are addressed, though.

The lack of facilitation has been glaring this season as Brown and Tatum have established All-Star cases by dominating defenders in isolation and in transition. Kemba Walker has seen a dip in his numbers across the board, and he was never known as a top-notch distributor, to begin with.

Not only that, but the second unit has not been able to keep the team competitive when the Jays take a seat. The Payton Pritchard hype has waned considerably since he broke out as an early-season All-Rookie team option, and the 2019 draft class has yet to have any sophomore success stories so far.

There is a remedy to all of this, though. The Boston Celtics could select Sharife Cooper out of Auburn with their first-round pick in July for the 2021 NBA Draft.

According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Cooper could trade in his orange and blue for green and white this summer:

If Cooper is available when the Celtics are on the clock, hesitation must go out the window. He would be the panacea to the team’s playmaking problems, as Nick Goss points out:

"Cooper is a point guard listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. He averaged 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game in his freshman season. Cooper also shot 39.1 percent from the field, 22.8 percent from 3-point range and 82.5 percent from the free throw line. Some of these shooting percentages are concerning, but his 2020-21 regular season is just a 12-game sample because of an NCAA eligibility issue that kept him out of 11 games early in the season.If Cooper is still on the board when the Celtics are on the clock, they should strongly consider drafting him. His scoring ability and impressive playmaking skill would be nice additions to Boston’s backcourt."

As an Auburn beat writer, I can tell you that the Tigers were not the same without Cooper on the floor. AU had a disappointing non-conference schedule before Cooper returned, but were able to collect an upset over a #12th-ranked Mizzou with him in the lineup.

A pass-first player is what the Boston Celtics roster needs and his assist-per-game total trailed only Jalen Moore out of Oakland. Topping eight assists is far more impressive in the SEC than the Horizon League, though.

Cooper is a slam dunk selection, and if Cs fans are lucky, they’ll be seeing plenty of those due to Cooper’s creativity with the ball in his hands.

Next. 5 potential late draft-night steals. dark