As the Boston Celtics have figured things out, so has the rest of the Eastern Conference’s middle of the pack. The Cs are currently sitting in the #6 seed in the east because the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks have also righted their respective ships.
In all honesty, it may be better for the Cs to draw the #6 seed to avoid facing one of the surging young squads in the postseason. Obviously, one in the Milwaukee/Philadelphia/Brooklyn trio is a tougher matchup, but Boston could also benefit from their pick having a more favorable position.
This year’s draft class is loaded with top-tier talent as well as non-lottery depth. The drop-off isn’t a precipitous one at any point, but the chance to grab a stud only increases following what could be another disappointing postseason result.
Given how close the Cs have been to a title in recent years, a first or second-round elimination would be unacceptable. A potential postseason series loss to the Knicks or Hawks could be the nail in the coffin of Brad Stevens’ head coaching tenure, but a loss to one of the top teams could give him more leeway.
Truly, this talk of tanking for a lower seed comes from CBS Sports analyst Gary Parrish’s latest 2021 NBA mock draft. While the Cs end up with Zhaire Williams out of Stanford with the #20 pick, the group of players selected before him is a murderers row of intriguing talent.
Sharife Cooper (Auburn), Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois), Corey Kispert (Gonzaga), Kai Jones (Texas), and Chris Duarte (Oregon) are all further along in their development than Williams, who appears less likely to step in and contribute in year one.
Danny Ainge has too many of those types of players on the roster with Romeo Langford and Aaron Nesmith both spending most of their time glued to the pine.
Don’t get me wrong, Williams is a fantastic choice at #20. He showed the ability to create his own shots with the Cardinal and has been called a “skinnier Jayson Tatum“, but any of the aforementioned group of prospective pros would be a better fit for the Boston Celtics.
If this isn’t the year for the Cs–and last night’s loss to the Nets showed that the team is vulnerable to the top teams in the conference–perhaps letting the Knicks and Hawks stay ahead of them in the standings could help improve the 2021-22 Boston Celtics.