2020 NBA Draft: Prototypical wings who could fit with Celtics
The idea of the Boston Celtics adding another wing player to the mix seems like overkill. Jayson Tatum, an All-Star in his third NBA season, has emerged as the leader of Boston’s wide world of wing players. Jaylen Brown has emerged as a major contributor in his fourth season. And let’s not forget about rookie Romeo Langford or veteran Gordon Hayward, a former All-Star in his own right who just turned 30 a couple months ago.
Because of Boston’s depth, whoever they select in the first round of this year’s draft will likely be the best player available. And there’s a good chance that player will be a wing. As we’ve seen with past Celtics draft picks, they are big on adding players with length, versatility and the ability to impact the game in a multitude of ways.
Currently holding the 17th, 26th and 30th overall picks in the first round, the Celtics will have some quality options to consider if they decide to add another wing player to the roster.
Here are five prototypical wings in this year’s NBA draft who may very well be on the board when the Celtics are on the clock.
Prototypical Celtics in 2020 Draft: Big men
1. Devin Vassell
6-foot-6, 180 pounds, Florida State
Vassell is expected to be a late-lottery or mid-first round pick so there’s a chance he’ll be available when the Celtics are on the clock at No. 17. One area that the Celtics could certainly use more of is points in transition — something Vassell has done at an elite level during his time at Florida State.
Last season, he averaged 1.411 points per position in transition which ranked among the 94th percentile in college basketball. He is also an elite scorer off screens. His 1.4 PPP off screens puts him in the 95th percentile, according to Synergy Sports Technology.
However, as one NBA scout texted NBC Sports Boston, “his bag is limited.” In other words, there’s not a lot of variety to his game offensively. That could be an issue at the next level along with his lithe frame.
2. Jaden McDaniels
6-foot-10, 185 pounds, Washington
There’s a lot to love about Jaden McDaniels’ game and his potential at the next level. With his length, he creates potential nightmares for teams defensively. He has a scorer’s mentality, well aware that he’s long enough to shoot over many defenders while still being agile enough to attack close-outs with pull-up jumpers or finish at the rim. But he won’t be able to do that with the kind of frequency he would want, primarily because of his thin-as-a-Twizzler frame. At this point it’s too easy for NBA players to knock him off stride. Obviously, filling out his frame would be a good thing, but more importantly, he has to get stronger.
But with all those talents, there is a sense among scouts and league executives that he relies too much on his talent and not enough on the nuances of the game such as being attentive at both ends of the floor along with playing with a high level of energy more consistently.
You don’t draft McDaniels — the top forward prospect in the prep ranks in 2019 — with designs on him contributing early on. Selecting him is more about his potential and promise that will be developed over time and in all likelihood, would involve a few trips to the G-League team.
That’s why the Celtics would have to think long and hard about scooping him up if he’s on the clock when they are picking at No. 26 or No. 30 in this season’s NBA draft.
3. Jahmi’us Ramsey
6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Texas Tech
One of the better high-energy players in this year’s draft, Ramsey has a decent number of intriguing qualities that all teams would love to have more of on their roster. He’s an aggressive player at both ends of the floor, and has shown the ability to finish in a multitude of ways.
Last season he averaged 1.0 points per possession (PPP) in isolations which put him in the 88th percentile of players nationally. And when it came to catch-and-shoots in the half court, his 1.273 PPP ranked in the 91st percentile.
That overall aggressive style of basketball has at times left him vulnerable, out of position on defense, missing a switch or sometimes not recognizing a great shot for himself or a teammate and instead settling for a pretty good one.
But he’s still one of those prospects whose draft window for now looks to be in the mid-teens, but unlikely to slide much further than the early to mid-20s.
4. Aaron Nesmith
6-foot-6, 210 pounds, Vanderbilt
A stress fracture in his right foot ended Nesmith’s season in January, but he had already done more than enough to prove his worth in the eyes of NBA scouts. “If he didn’t get hurt and kept up the pace he was on, he’s probably a top-5 pick this year,” an Eastern Conference scout told NBC Sports Boston.
Nesmith is a prototypical Celtics wing in part because of his defensive versatility. His size, strength and 6-10 wingspan allows him the luxury of defending shooting guards, small forwards and in some instances, small-ball power forwards. But what sets him apart from a lot of wing prospects is his shooting. Prior to suffering a season-ending foot injury in January, Nesmith was the SEC’s top scorer at 23.0 points per game while connecting on 52.2 percent of his 3-pointers. And the jump he made in 3-point shooting from his freshman year (33.7 percent) has drawn favorable comparisons to the improvement made by former All-American Buddy Hield between his junior and senior seasons at Oklahoma.
Nabbing a player with that kind of offensive potential at this point in the draft would be a good get for the Celtics.
5. Saddiq Bey
6-foot-8, 220 pounds, Villanova
For where the Celtics are picking, finding a star would be great. But adding a solid role player has value as well. And that’s what you would be getting with Bey.
He's from the Villanova tree of talent, which more times than not produces solid defenders in the NBA. Bey was a really strong defender for the Wildcats this past season, showing a knack for being similarly difficult to score on by smaller guards or bigger wings and frontcourt players.
And when he wasn’t earning his keep on the floor defensively, he showed he can also stretch the floor and help with floor spacing, with a better-than-average perimeter game which saw him connect on 45.1 percent of his 3’s taken last season.
He doesn’t have the quickest first step and his movement both with and without the ball offensively isn’t going to create many additional shots. But there’s enough talent in his game and potential upside to where taking a flier on him with one of their last two picks in the first round is a gamble worth taking for the Celtics.