2018 Mock Draft: Who will Celtics take with No. 27 pick?
2018 Mock Draft: Who will C's take with No. 27 pick?
BOSTON – The NBA Finals have begun, reminding us all that only two teams actually care about what’s on the immediate horizon.
The other 28 teams are focused more on what’s going to transpire later this month – the NBA draft, specifically.
And the Boston Celtics are no different, although this year’s draft will be more befitting a team like Boston which finished with the fourth-best record in the NBA this past season.
Boston has been among the better teams record-wise in recent years, although you wouldn’t know it by the NBA draft lottery where, courtesy of previous trades, the Celtics landed back-to-back No. 3 picks in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, respectively.
This draft will be a more traditional one for Boston which currently has just the 27th pick overall.
But as has been the case in past years where the Celtics were in the lottery (top-14) or not, Danny Ainge has been active in his pursuit to bolster an already stuffed Celtics roster, through the draft.
That’s why the rumors about Boston potentially trying to trade up into the top-6 will continue on until draft night.
While Ainge knows as well as anyone this is a top-heavy draft particularly when it comes to big men, he also understands that as good as his roster is there is the room for growth – significant growth – by keeping the group together for another season.
Boston advanced to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals, a playoff run that was spearheaded by rookie Jayson Tatum, second-year wing Jaylen Brown and third-year guard Terry Rozier. It was an unlikely Big Three for Boston, a team that was making the most of what they had available, a group that saw its two best players Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, both out for Boston’s entire postseason run.
Adding a player even at the top of the draft board to come in and be a solid contributor, won’t be easy. Selecting a player near the end of the first round has the look and feel of being even more daunting.
But this is why Ainge and his scouting staff are among the best in the NBA, able to acquire overlooked talent like Semi Ojeleye (second round, 34th overall) who was instrumental in them getting out of the first round of the playoffs this season.
There’s no guarantee that Boston will sit tight and wait until the 27thpick to strike. But if they do, here’s a look at how the first round will play out with NBC Sports Boston’s first 2018 Mock Draft.
1. Phoenix – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
Already has an NBA-ready body at 7-1, 260, Ayton’s size, strength and overall game are inmpressive. He also showed improvement defensively as the season progessed which is a good sign coming into the NBA.
2. Sacramento – Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia
We have seen the Kings have their brain-cramp moments when it comes to the draft. But they can’t possibly get this one wrong, can they?
3. Atlanta – Marvin Bagley III, Duke
Hawks GM Travis Schlenk loves versatile big men. After Ayton, Bagley III is the next best.
4. Memphis – Michael Porter, Missouri
Porter’s health makes him a risky pick this high in the draft. But there are few if any other players in this draft, when healthy, that have more upside than Porter.
5. Dallas – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
It just makes so much sense for Dallas to address its need for rim protection by adding arguably the best in this year’s draft who played his college ball nearby.
6. Orlando – Jaren Jackson Jr., F, Michigan State
He checks off a lot of boxes when you talk about young bigs coming into the NBA. Still not sure what his greatest strength is other than he’s pretty good at a lot of different parts of the game.
7. Chicago – Wendell Carter Jr., F, Duke
The temptation to draft Trae Young is there, but Carter Jr. provides more frontcourt depth, versatility and toughness.
8. Cleveland – Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
Will selecting him be enough to convince LeBron James to stay around? Probably not. But the Cavs will need another scorer, regardless. And in this draft, Young’s ability to get buckets stands out in a big way.
9. New York Knicks – Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
A bit of a reach this high, Bridges has a lot of the intangibles – toughness, versatility defensively – that fit into the culture the Knicks are trying to create under GM Scott Perry.
10. Philadelphia – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
Has the versatility to score deep, mid-range and at the rim which addresses an absolute need for the Sixers that was exposed in playoffs versus Boston.
11. Charlotte - Collin Sexton, G, Alabama
Explosive playmaker whose end-to-end speed while seemingly always on the attack, bodes well for his play at the next level.
12. Los Angeles Clippers – Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
Doc Rivers is feeling pretty good about Bridges falling to the Clippers at No. 12. A two-way talent, his much-improved 3-point shooting makes this defensive standout at the college level an ideal fit for Rivers’ Clippers.
L.A. Clippers - 13. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
His 6-foot-6 frame is impressive for a lead guard. But it’s his work ethic and the rapid progress he’s made that will make him a lottery-pick this month.
14. Denver – Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke
One of the better shooters in the draft, Trent provides another long-range sniper who’s presence will aid their quest in keeping the floor as well-spaced as possible.
Washington - Robert Williams, F, Texas A&M
Has a tremendous 7-foot-6 wingspan despite being just 6-9, rebounds the ball and blocks shots at a fairly high rate with an offensive game that remains very much a work in progress.
16. Phoenix - Zhaire Smith, G, Texas Tech
One of the best athletes in the draft, Smith has the tools to develop into an above-average defender in the NBA.
17. Milwaukee – Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova
Nobody’s stock from the NCAA Tournament rose as much as DiVincenzo’s did.
18. San Antonio – Lonnie Walker, G, Miami
Long arms, aggressive scorer, has the potential to give the Spurs a much-needed jolt offensively off the bench next season.
19. Atlanta - Troy Brown, G, Oregon
Has ideal size (6-7) and wingspan (about 7-feet) for an NBA wing, needs to add strength to his wiry frame.
20 Minnesota – Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State
Will need to get stronger, but his experience as a playmaker who can also play off the ball and score, will give him a better-than-average shot at sticking at the next level.
21. Utah – Kevin Huerter, G, Maryland
One of the big risers in recent weeks, his size, length and shot-making are skills that make him an ideal fit for the Jazz.
22. Chicago – Mitchell Robinson, C, USA
An athletic rim-protector who did not play in college, Robinson is a risky pick but at this point in the draft, there are no players on the board with as much upside as Robinson who was a five-star recruit coming out of high school.
23. Indiana – Omari Spellman, C, Villanova
Not ideal size for a center, but has a pick-and-pop game that shows promise at the next level.
24. Portland – Jacob Evans, F, Cincinnati
The playoffs exposed Portland’s defensive shortcomings at the wing positions. In Evans which seems a bit of a reach this high, the Blazers would add one of the more physical wing defenders which tends to stand out in the postseason.
25. Los Angeles Lakers – Grayson Allen, G, Duke
He’s had a slew of well-publicized issues, for sure. But his perimeter-shooting skills along with court vision that’s underrated makes Allen a good pick-up at this point in the draft.
26. Philadelphia – Josh Okogie, G, Georgia Tech
A strong-bodied wing, the 6-foot-4 Okogie made tremendous strides towards being a first-round pick with a strong showing at the NBA pre-draft combine last month in Chicago.
27. Boston -- Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
Only 6-3, has the ability to play both guard positions courtesy of having a 6-10 wingspan. A solid defender, Thomas has drawn favorable comparisons to Jrue Holiday.
28. Golden State – Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
Completes the first-round trifecta for Villanova despite being the most decorated of the trio.
29. Brooklyn – Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College
Showed steady improvement in his three years at B.C., was runner-up to Marvin Bagley III for ACC Player of the Year this past season.
30. Atlanta – Elie Okobo, G, France
The 6-foot-2 lefty has size and length, but doesn’t appear ready to contribute immediately. May spend another year or two playing overseas before coming state-side.