If the Boston Celtics ultimately keep all three of their first round picks, here are some players they could target in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Unlike last summer, there are countless ways this offseason can go for the Celtics. Kyrie Irving’s future with the team is up in the air, there’s the Anthony Davis trade hanging over the entire league, and Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Al Horford highlight the team’s other key free agents.
But all of those questions will be answered after June 30. The 2019 NBA Draft will be the Celtics’ front office’s first step in what should be the most important offseason in franchise history.
The Celtics have four draft picks this year with three first round picks and one second rounder. There’s a really good chance Danny Ainge trades at least one of those selections if not most of them, but for the sake of this post let’s assume he keeps them all to build the team’s depth.
Round 1: Pick No. 14
Clarke could go as early as 10 in this draft due to the instant fit he’d have with a lot of teams selecting before the Celtics, but here I have him falling due to a lack of star-potential. Something the Celtics won’t really have much trouble with if they can get a player like Clarke to play in their defensive scheme.
The 6-8 big man is incredibly active on both ends of the floor, creating most of his offense off of dives to the hoop and crashing the offensive glass. He doesn’t have much of a jump shot, but he’ll have time to develop it. He’ll earn his minutes on defense. Clarke could theoretically guard any position on the floor, provide stellar rim protection, and possibly be another body for the Celtics to throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo, since it looks like the Bucks will be Boston’s main competition in the East for years to come.
Boston went with Robert Williams in the first round last year, a big man with All-Star level skills but hasn’t put it all together yet. Clarke presents a more polished big that can provide defensive versatility in bigger lineups and an upside as a driver on offense.
Round 1: Pick No. 20
Given the amount of young talent the Celtics have, the fact that they have three first round picks and how they should probably target veterans to shape out the rest of the roster, using at least one pick on a draft-and-stash seems like the right move. Doumbouya, an 18-year old forward with great athletic ability but almost no polish to his game is a prime candidate at 20th overall.
Doumbouya struggles with his fundamentals on defense, has an inconsistent shooting stroke and a sometimes sloppy handle. He could use at least one year overseas if not two, so the Celtics could see the untapped potential in this fluid athlete and let him develop for a bit before bringing him over.
If all works out, the Celtics could have another versatile wing on their hands with terrific defensive tools, driving ability and 3-and-D potential. At this stage of the first round teams look for players who could fit their scheme and provide useful minutes off the bench. Rarely do stars get selected in this range.
Round 1: Pick 22
I’m more for the mindset of having veterans to play backup point guard due to their poise and experience when it matters most, but with Terry Rozier likely heading to another city this summer and Brad Wanamaker’s underwhelming 2018-19 season (due to lack of opportunity), Carsen Edwards wouldn’t be a bad pick to take one of their open roster spots.
Edwards is undersized and could potentially be a problem on the defensive end with mismatches, but a good rule of thumb to follow with the draft is to pick guys who can flat out play, and Edwards is exactly that. He’s a very good shooter off the dribble and in spot-up situations, and isn’t afraid to let it fly from anywhere once he gets past half-court.
I’m a little concerned with his ability to finish inside, but he plays hard and has good moves to beat his defender off the bounce. In the Celtics offense, he could use that skill to initiate drive-and-kicks to feed shooters or be one of those shooters. It’s hard not to like Edwards when you watch him play.
Round 2: Pick No. 51
Bowen was the 14th overall high school prospect in 2017 when he committed to Louisville, but a recruiting scandal ended his college career before it started. I’m not certain whether there’s interest in Bowen from any teams in this draft, but in the late-second round, the Celtics could take a flier on an incredibly talented kid who spent last season with the Sydney Kings.
There’s also a high likelihood of the Celtics trading this pick, but Bowen is a name to look out for. There’s a good chance he never becomes much of anything in the pros, but there’s also a possibility he becomes the poster-child for what’s wrong with the NCAA and the Celtics could be the team to benefit from it most.