Luka Garza among five best big man fits for Celtics in NBA Draft


The Celtics employed the NBA's tallest player last season. But aside from the 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall? Not much height to go around in Boston.

Tristan Thompson (6-foot-9) was the tallest Celtics rotation player in 2020-21, followed by Daniel Theis (traded to Chicago at the deadline), Robert Williams and Jayson Tatum, who are all listed at 6-foot-8.

Boston addressed this issue in part by importing Al Horford and Moses Brown from Oklahoma City in the Kemba Walker trade. But new head coach Ime Udoka could use more beef in the frontcourt as insurance for the 35-year-old Horford and the oft-injured Williams.

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You could argue Brown essentially serves as the No. 16 pick the Celtics dealt to the Thunder last month. But the C's also select at No. 45 in the 2021 NBA Draft, and there could be some big men worth taking in second round if teams all set in the frontcourt pass them over.

More 2021 NBA Draft fits for Celtics: Point guards | Wings

The final installment in our Celtics draft fits series focuses on the best big man prospects for Brad Stevens and Co. Like we've done before, we'll include guys likely out of reach for Boston to get a sense of which type of player fits what the team needs.

Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky

Age: 19

Height, weight: 6-foot-10, 205 pounds


2020-21 stats: 8.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 54.0% FG, 0% 3PT

Why he fits: You want Robert Williams insurance? How about the kid who blocked 2.6 shots per game in the SEC? Jackson is raw, but he's a classic rim-runner who could provide a spark off the bench as an alley-oop target and shot eraser. All indications are that he won't make it out of the first round, though.

Projected pick: Late first round

Usman Garuba, Real Madrid

Age: 19

Height, weight: 6-foot-8, 230 pounds

2020-21 stats (EuroLeague): 4.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 50.4% FG, 27.5% 3PT

Why he fits: A high-energy defender and relentless rebounder who was named the 2021 EuroLeague Rising Star, Garuba grabbed eight rebounds in 12 minutes for Spain Sunday in its 2020 Tokyo Olympics exhibition against Team USA. We're guessing Udoka liked what he saw, but Garuba also shouldn't be around past No. 30.

Projected pick: Late first round

Neemias Queta, Utah State

Age: 22

Height, weight: 7-foot, 245 pounds

2020-21 stats: 14.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.3 bpg, 55.9% FG, 0% 3PT

Why he fits: Queta dominated the Mountain West Conference last season, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors while averaging a double-double. His age and lack of quality competition will hurt his draft stock, but the massive Portugal native could be a great defensive option off the bench against Eastern Conference giants like Joel Embiid, Brook Lopez and DeAndre Jordan.

Projected pick: Second round

Luka Garza, Iowa

Age: 22

Height, weight: 6-foot-11, 243 pounds

2020-21 stats: 24.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 55.3% FG, 44.0% 3PT

Why he fits: Garza was the best player in college basketball last season and shot nearly 45% from distance as a 6-foot-11 big man. So, why isn't he projected in the first round? Because he turns 23 in December, lacks NBA-caliber foot speed and isn't the greatest defender.

There's a good chance Garza is on the board at No. 45, though, and the Celtics need bench scoring. If they're taking a flyer, might as well use it on a scoring machine.

Projected pick: Second round

ProFile: Luka Garza

Balsa Koprivica, Florida State

Age: 21

Height, weight: 7-foot-1, 240 pounds

2020-21 stats: 9.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 59.9% FG, 0% 3PT

Why he fits: Koprivica would be another flyer for Boston, as he's more of a traditional big with limited athleticism. The Celtics gave him a workout at the NBA Draft Combine, though, and he's a strong rim protector with a 7-foot-4 wingspan who would add muscle to Udoka's bench. He'll most likely be on the board when Boston picks at No. 45.

Projected pick: Second round