Blakely: Top 5 potential Celtics draftees in 2017
SOME NAMES TO REMEMBER
BOSTON -- The Brooklyn Nets’ efforts to pilfer a couple of young, up-and-coming restricted free agents this summer were rejected this week when the offer sheets given to Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe were matched by the Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively.
Losing out on both players is indeed a blow to the Nets' efforts to put a little cushion between themselves and the bottom of the NBA pecking order.
Brooklyn’s problems lay the groundwork for Boston’s potential to improve its roster through the draft.
The Celtics used Brooklyn’s pick in last month’s draft, No. 3 overall, to select Cal’s Jaylen Brown.
In 2017, Boston has the right to swap picks with Brooklyn. The following year in 2018, Boston will have Brooklyn’s first-round pick outright.
While last month’s draft is indeed still relatively fresh in minds of most, that doesn’t mean NBA teams don’t have an eye towards the 2017 draft, which is expected to be one that’s deeper and filled with more high impact, franchise-caliber talent.
And that bodes well for a Boston team that, in all likelihood, will have a top-five pick courtesy of Brooklyn’s anticipated problems.
Here’s a look at five players to keep an eye on during the college basketball season that could be donning a Celtics jersey a year from now.
5. JONATHAN ISAAC
2016-17 school: Florida State
Of all of next fall's college freshman, there may not be a bigger high risk/high reward prospect than Isaac. One of his greatest strengths is his footwork at both ends of the floor. Offensively it allows him to get to where he needs to be in order to be effective, in an efficient manner. And defensively, it allows his length to be of even greater use. But even by college standards, he needs to get physically stronger. And his shooting mechanics aren’t bad, but he has more of a tendency to go hot and cold than most of the top players. But at his size, with his exceptional ball-handling skills, he is a player that you could envision finding his way in Brad Stevens’ system of pace and space.
4. MALIK MONK
2016-17 school: Kentucky
Monk doesn’t get the kind of hype that Harry Giles and Josh Jackson have received, but there are few players as electrifying. He has explosive quickness getting into the paint, can play above the rim and has the kind of physical benchmarks --elite standing reach and above-average wingspan -- that shows he could be an above-average defender. At Kentucky he needs to show that he can really play, rather than be just a highlight reel. As for the Celtics, he would be an intriguing addition to a roster that’s clearly focused on becoming a bit more athletic across the board.
3. MARKELLE FULTZ
2016-17 school: Washington
The poster boy for this generation’s version of the combo guard, Fultz emerged as arguably the best first-year guard in the country heading into this college basketball season. NBA teams love his size (6-5, with a 6-9 wingspan) and ability to balance having solid shot-making skills with a strong court vision. And being just 18 years old, his body (he weighs about 187 pounds now) has time to fill out even more. Boston has a ton of guards currently, but if the upcoming season leads to the Celtics clearing out their backcourt some, it would not be a shock to see Fultz as a player Boston targets.
2. HARRY GILES
2016-17 school: Duke
Phenomenal talent who has been impressive in seemingly every basketball environment. Has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, which makes him even more formidable defensively when you attach that to his great instincts as a shot-blocker and rebounder. Has good lateral quickness, which allows him to still be an impact defender in pick-and-roll switches and away from the basket. The biggest concern with him is his knees after having had a pair of torn ACL injuries in high school. A solid, injury-free season with the Blue Devils would make him a sure-first top-3 pick in next June’s NBA draft.
1. JOSH JACKSON
2016-17 school: Kansas
It’s hard not to watch Josh Jackson play and not envision him being Tracy McGrady 2.0. A 6-foot-8 wing player, Jackson has all the physical tools to be an exceptional player in the NBA. He has size, length, athleticism and an ability to play at a high level at both ends of the floor. And for whatever team drafts him following what should be one season at Kansas, they’re getting a player who will be 20 years old during his freshman season, which means he’ll be older than most of his high-lottery contemporaries. That should help pave the way for a smoother transition to the NBA.