Blakely: Will Celtics add some depth at wing with pick No. 27?
Will C's take a flier on a wing?
BOSTON – For years, the Celtics have been doing their part to field a roster full of position-less players.
And as we saw this past season, Boston’s efforts have paid off in the form of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and, to a lesser extent, the addition of All-Star Gordon Hayward, whose season was cut short because of a left ankle injury after just five minutes.
But as much as the Celtics will lean on those players for support at the wing position, Boston wouldn’t mind adding another player to the mix for added depth, which as we saw with the Celtics’ unexpected run towards the Eastern Conference Finals, may come in handy.
Here we look at five wing players who may be available for Celtics if they stand pat and remain on the clock with the 27th overall pick in the draft on June 21 (For a look at potential guard sleepers, click here):
Chandler Hutchinson, 6-7 G/F, Boise State
Stats from last season: 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals per game.
Possessing a 7-1 wingspan, Hutchinson has the length to defend both small forwards and some small-ball power forwards. But he’s on the light side weight-wise (around 200 pounds) and needs to become stronger if he’s going to hold his own defensively. Has a decent offensive game, but needs to continue improving as a playmaker in addition to expanding his perimeter game. There’s a chance he’ll be available for the Celtics at No. 27, but how good a fit he would be remains unclear.
Troy Brown, 6-6 G/F, Oregon
Stats last season: 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
One of the more versatile players in this draft, he has good length and foot speed to hold his own defensively against guards and some wing players. But like a lot of rookies coming, Brown has to improve his strength as well as his long-range shooting, which came in at a not-so-great 29.1 percent from 3-point range at Oregon last season. He does a lot of things well and has a good basketball IQ, traits that collectively make him someone to consider if he’s still on the board.
Gary Trent Jr. 6-5 G, Duke
Stats last season: 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
For a Celtics bench that has struggled at times to get scoring, Trent Jr. could be a breath of fresh air. When it comes into games, his focus more nights than not is to get buckets. He averaged 11.5 field-goal attempts last season, with more than half (6.5 per game) coming from 3-point range. However, to play for Brad Stevens you have to buy into wanting to be a strong defender, which is far from a given when it comes to Trent Jr. at this level. Still, with his ability to score from the perimeter (he shot 40.2 percent on 3s last season), he would be worth the risk if you’re talking about the 27th overall pick in the draft.
2018 NBA Draft Reel: Gary Trent Jr.
Keita-Bates Diop, 6-6 G/F, Ohio State
Stats last season: 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 blocked shots per game.
Diop's best shot at seeing early time in the NBA will come at the defensive end of the floor in large part because of a ridiculous 7-3 1/4 wingspan. He has better-than-average speed going to the basket along with a strong mid-range game, which is looking more and more like a lost art these days. Still, there are a couple of concerns about him heading into the draft. In the interview session following a recent workout for Utah, he began to experience back pain and reportedly had to lay on the floor before eventually being given the OK by team trainers. Was it a one-time thing or a bigger issue of concern going forward? Another concern with the 22-year-old has to do with him doing very little through his first three seasons, but having a breakout season as a senior leading up to him being named Big Ten Player of the Year. Was it him finally tapping into his potential? Or was it him using the experience he gained in three years of high-level college basketball to his advantage against less-experienced talent?
Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech
Stats last season: 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
Has lots of 3-and-D potential, possessing a wingspan of near 7-feet with one of the best catch-and-shoot games among these draft candidates. He’ll play off the ball at the next level, but has the size, length and foot speed to defend both guard positions. He is being seen as a late first-, early second-round selection who, at a minimum, is a player the Celtics should give some thought to at 27.