Five young players the Boston Celtics could target
Five young players the Celtics could target
By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON -- The youth movement has gone well for the Boston Celtics under Brad Stevens with just about every player brought into the fold since his arrival in 2013 showing marked improvement.
And while they want to add an all-star caliber talent with experience this summer, the Celtics are open to the idea of trading for a young, on-the-rise superstar. The names mentioned most often along those lines are Philadelphia’s big man tandem of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor with the latter drawing the most attention.
However, they by no means are the only potential youngsters Boston might engage in serious dialogue about acquiring this offseason.
Here’s a look at five young players with no more than three years of experience who may find themselves donning the Green and White this upcoming season.
5. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia
Having yet to play a single game for the Sixers due to injuries, it’s highly unlikely Philadelphia would look to ship him out before ever seeing what he can do in an NBA game. But if Embiid does in fact play this season, he joins a Philadelphia frontcourt that could include LSU’s Ben Simmons, if the Sixers take him with the top pick. Simmons would join a frontcourt that includes Okafor, Noel and Dario Saric, who is expected to join the Sixers as well. That’s a lot of young bigs with no clear pecking order, which is why a trade of some sort makes a lot of sense.
4. Nik Stauskas, Philadelphia
The Celtics need shooting in the worst way going forward, and Stauskas could be an inexpensive way of addressing this area of weakness. In his first season with the Sixers, he increased his scoring average to 8.5 points per game but shot a disappointing 32.6 percent from 3-point range. Still, he has great shooting mechanics and while his numbers suggest otherwise, shooting the long-ball – one of his biggest strengths – should improve with more experience. That said, the likelihood of the Sixers looking to move him and the Celtics wanting to acquire him, at this point seems highly unlikely.
3. T.J. Warren, Phoenix
Warren is one of those players who finds a way, regardless of who he’s playing with, to get points. In his second season he averaged 11.1 points per game while shooting better than 50 percent from the field for the second time in as many seasons. He’s not considered a great 3-point shooter but connected on 40 percent of his 3s this past season. The fact that Boston could use more scoring off the bench and Warren plays for the Suns – one of Boston’s favorite trade partners – makes a deal to acquire the 6-8 small forward a possibility.
2. Ben McLemore, Sacramento
McLemore is a player that has been on the Celtics’ radar for a couple years now. In fact, they had conversations prior to the 2014 draft about a trade that would have sent him to Boston and would have given the Kings the sixth overall pick that Boston eventually used to draft Marcus Smart. Last season saw McLemore’s scoring dip to 7.8 points per game, but he wound up shooting a career-best (36.2 percent) from 3-point range. He would be a good pick-up for the Celtics if they weren’t so deep already in the backcourt. He’s a good player, but I’m not sold on him being a significant upgrade to the group as a whole.
1. Victor Oladipo, Orlando
There has not been much talk about Oladipo potentially on the move, but you can expect that to change as we get closer to the draft. The Magic have their eyes set on a number of Celtics and Oladipo is expected to be a player they will dangle out there as potential trade bait. A 6-4 combo guard, Oladipo is a career 15.9 points per game scorer who shot a career-best 43.8 percent from the field this past season. He also grabbed 4.8 rebounds, which was also a career high for the 24-year-old. Marcus Smart is a player of interest to Orlando, which will now be coached by longtime Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel whose teams in Indiana were usually among the NBA’s best defensively. So pursuing a player like Smart, even if it came at the cost of losing a scorer like Oladipo, makes sense for the current Magic regime. Meanwhile, the Celtics have lots of guards but none other than Isaiah Thomas, who can score in such a multitude of ways like Oladipo can. And while they would miss Smart's defense, Oladipo is no slouch. Plus, rookie Terry Rozier showed signs of being an above-average defender along the lines of Avery Bradley who was named to the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this season.
A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter @SherrodbCSN