2019 NBA Draft: An early look at potential Celtics' first-round picks
The Celtics aren’t playing their best basketball right now, but there’s still a sense that this franchise has an embarrassment of riches.
They have a roster that, while certainly hasn’t hit its stride yet, is still one of the best in the NBA. And they also find themselves keeping a close watch on the college basketball scene, well aware that they too may be among the teams picking in the lottery (top-14). In fact, Boston could potentially wind up with a pair of lottery picks this year. Those picks were acquired via trades that essentially wound up being Boston benefiting from other team’s losing ways. For Boston, the best-case scenario would be for them to have four first-round picks, which would include their own as well as the No. 2, No. 9 and No. 15 selections.
That being said, here’s a look at the potential top 15 picks.
1. RJ BARRETT, DUKE
Barrett came in with a ton of fanfare, and thus far has not disappointed. The 6-foot-6 wing from Canada has done nothing to hurt his current position as the top overall prospect in the draft class of 2019 with the stiffest competition coming from within his own team. He will be the first of what should be back-to-back Duke Blue Devils selected.
2. ZION WILLIAMSON, DUKE
Don’t let the YouTube videos fool you. Zion Williamson is more than just an internet sensation with his monstrous dunks, the kind you rarely see for a player with his physical dimensions (6-foot-7, 280 pounds). But as we’ve seen in this still-young college basketball season, Williamson is more than just a dunker. He has shown signs of being a good help-side defender, a willing passer and a player whose face-the-basket game has to be respected.
3. ROMEO LANGFORD, INDIANA
One of the most heralded players out of the basketball-rich state of Indiana, Langford has all the tools to make an impact sooner rather than later at the NBA level. Whether it’s off the dribble, catch-and-shoot or from 3-point range, Langford has shown tremendous potential. The biggest knock on him at this point is his ball-handling.
4. NASSIR LITTLE, UNC
There’s a lot to like about Little, a 6-foot-6 wing with a 7-1 wingspan and a knack for making his presence felt at both ends of the floor. He is part of a new wave of players who come into the NBA with two-way talent rather than excelling at one end of the floor and not the other. His 3-point shot needs some work, but his overall athleticism and skill set should land him a spot in the top five of the 2019 draft.
5. CAMERON REDDISH, DUKE
Part of arguably the best freshman class assembled ever, Cameron Reddish has an ultra-quick first step off the dribble and a 7-1 wingspan which he utilizes well when it comes to shooting and finishing at the rim. He can be extremely crafty off the dribble with the ability to change up his speed, thus throwing defenders off and most important, creating space to score. If he falls from this spot, it won’t be a huge drop.
6. BOL BOL, OREGON
While the frame may remind many of his father, the late Manute Bol, this father and son have two completely different games. Bol Bol is a stretch big in every way imaginable. He is a 7-foot-2, 235-pound center who can score from all the key spots on the floor -- mid-range, in the paint and from 3-point range. Becoming stronger, like most college bigs, will be the biggest hurdle he has to overcome at the next level.
7. QUENTIN GRIMES, KANSAS
One of the more balanced guards in this draft class, NBA teams love the fact that he has shown the ability to impact the game as both a scorer and facilitator. His ball-handling is solid as well which is a good thing because at 6-foot-5, he’ll most likely come into the league as a combo guard looked upon to play both on and off the ball.
8. KRIS WILKES, UCLA
NBA teams love Wilkes’ 6-8 frame and ability to score from the perimeter. What’s often overlooked in his game is what he can do defensively. He’s both long and strong enough to hold his own defensively with NBA small forwards, and has some intriguing tools (ball-handling, attacking the rim) that give him a chance to be a solid pro.
9. JAYLEN HOARD, WAKE FOREST
The 6-foot-8 wingman from France has the kind of length (7-1 wingspan, 8-6 standing reach) that’s eye-popping the moment he steps on the floor and starts playing. He can finish well at the rim, rebounds well for his size and position and more than anything else, has a nice feel for the ball to where he has the potential to really help a team when it comes to keeping possessions alive and scoring second-chance points.
10. DE'ANDRE HUNTER, VIRGINIA
A wrist injury in the NCAA Tournament last year likely prevented him from entering the draft last spring. The 6-foot-7 wing can score from the perimeter, finish at the rim and is a solid defender who provides the kind of defensive switching potential that teams can’t get enough of these days. This season will be about becoming a better ball-handler which can only enhance his draft stock.
11. JALEN McDANIELS, SAN DIEGO STATE
He’s not getting a ton of buzz right now, but that’ll change in the coming months. The 6-foot-10 sophomore is one of the more athletically gifted players in the nation. He flirted with entering the draft a year ago, but wisely decided to return to college. As tantalizing as his athleticism may be, he needs to showcase a more well-rounded offensive game and add significant strength to his frame to solidify his place as a lottery (top-14) pick.
12. DANIEL GAFFORD, ARKANSAS
A 6-foot-11 shot-blocking center is nothing special, but when you combine that with Gafford’s ability to run the floor with exceptional leaping ability for a near 7-footer, you got a likely lottery pick on your hands. His on-court decision making isn’t great and offensively he's a work in progress. Still, he has the kind of upside that reminds many of Clint Capela.
13. KELDON JOHNSON, KENTUCKY
At 6-foot-6 with a strong mid-range game and the ability to light it up behind the arc, Johnson has the potential to be a good scorer at the next level. He has a nice change-of-pace, dribble-drive game that should translate well at the next level too. But he’s a skinny kid, even by college basketball standards, so adding weight and strength will be key to his development into a lottery (top-14) pick this season.
14. ERIC PASCHALL, VILLANOVA
One of the few veterans back from Villanova’s title team, Paschall’s strengths align well with what the NBA is looking for these days. He’s a 6-foot-8 hybrid power forward/small forward-type who does a good but not great job at scoring off the dribble, from mid-range and beyond the arc as well as defend. He projects as more of a role player at the NBA level which is why he’ll be a solid pick-up for clubs in the middle to latter parts of the first round who are looking to add depth and not necessarily someone who can come in and start from Day One.
15. RUI HACHIMURA, GONZAGA
This will be one of the more intriguing draft prospects this year. He is a powerfully built 6-foot-8 forward who can bully-ball his way to big scoring nights. But as we’ve seen in the early going of this college basketball season, he has added an elbow jumper to his offensive repertoire and looks to continue his strong dribble-drive game in half court sets. The development of a 3-point shot would go far in solidifying his place among the top players in this year’s draft. Even if that doesn’t happen, there’s enough positives about his game that it’s hard to imagine he would slip any further than the mid-20s of the first round.