BOSTON -- In recent years when the Boston Celtics had multiple first-round picks, one cracking the team’s rotation as a rookie would have been deemed a successful draft class.
But because of the transient state the Boston Celtics find themselves in right now, the four rookies selected in last night’s draft - two from the first round and two from the second - are on track to have a legit shot at playing sooner rather than later.
Here we take a look at the four Celtics draft picks and how each fits in with the current group of returners under contract.
Taken with the 14th overall pick, Langford is an athletic jack-of-all-trades whose strengths offensively lie in his ability to create his own shot driving to the basket or set his teammates up for easy buckets as a playmaker.
With the expected departure of Kyrie Irving, the Celtics will need an all-hands-on-deck approach when it comes to scoring in isolation sets.
Despite being tied for 10th in the league in isolation plays per game, Boston ranked just 28th (0.79) in points per play in isolation sets.
Langford won’t come in and dramatically improve that figure, but this is an area in which he can be of some assistance.
Assuming Boston’s starting five will include restricted free agent Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum, Langford would be coming off the bench looking to primarily back up all of those guys in some capacity.
But whatever role that he’s put in coming off the bench, it should be one in which he plays more on the ball than off akin to how the Celtics utilized Evan Turner.
And with his 6-foot-6 frame and 6-11 wingspan, there’s the potential for Langford to be a solid defender which makes him even more valuable when it comes to finding a role for him this upcoming season.
While Langford may be the more versatile player, Grant Williams probably has a better shot at seeing immediate playing time.
Boston’s frontcourt is extremely thin right now, with Robert Williams III and Guerschon Yabusele the only bigs under contract. Boston’s likely to bring back Daniel Theis, but still … that only takes them from being ridiculously young and thin to just really young and thin in terms of bigs.
At 6-7 ½, 240 pounds, Williams has the kind of girth that will allow him to compete against taller big men. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s arguably the strongest player in this year’s draft.
During the Pre-Draft combine in Chicago last month, Williams bench-pressed 185 pounds 20 times which was tops among all players there.
In addition, the two-time SEC Player of the Year has a solid mid-range game which is on-the-floor real estate that the Celtics would love to continue capitalizing on in the future.
With the possible loss of Al Horford to free agency, his departure would leave a pretty significant void for the Celtics when it comes to the team’s overall mid-range shooting which was among the best in the NBA.
And while most think of last season’s Celtics as a team that lived and died by the 3-point shot, they were among the better teams when it came to the mid-range game, too.
According to nba.com/stats, the Celtics ranked sixth in both shooting percentage (.424) on mid-range shots as well as attempts (1,376).
One of the bigger concerns with Williams has to do with defense, the one thing that head coach Brad Stevens looks to more than anything else when it comes to doling out playing time.
Williams has some work to do along those lines, like most rookies. But his physical presence, strength and ability to knock down shots will bode well for his chances to see some playing time early on his career as a Celtic.
Selected by Boston with the 33rd pick overall, Carsen Edwards falls under the category of high-reward, minimal-risk for the Celtics.
He’ll get some of his salary guaranteed, but it won’t be like the two-year deals players taken in the first round receive.
Shortly before it was announced that Edwards was the Celtics’ pick at No. 33, there was a loud, jovial cheer coming from the office of the Celtics’ brass who were admittedly happy with being able to draft Edwards.
We’re assuming that restricted free agent Terry Rozier will be re-signed by Boston and thus become their starting point guard, with Edwards fighting to be the backup or at worst, the team’s No. 3.
There’s a lot of attention paid to Edwards’ ability to score in bunches, as we saw this past spring in the NCAA Tournament when he strung together a couple of 40-plus points which was part of a season in which he was among the nation’s top scorers while averaging 24.3 points per game.
While his 6-foot size automatically casts him as a point guard, the truth is Edwards is more of an undersized shooting guard in the mold of ex-Celtic Eddie House or if you’re looking for a current player comparison, Toronto’s Fred VanVleet.
For Boston, that’s not an issue because it’s almost impossible to envision a Celtics lineup with Edwards on the floor that doesn’t include at least two other playmakers who can run the offense if he’s not tasked with doing so.
And while some might look at his size and see tons of defensive matchup issues, here’s the thing you need to know about Edwards.
He’s only 6-feet tall in shoes, but he’s a physically strong player - only five players at the draft combine last month in Chicago bench-pressed 185 pounds more than Edwards who did so 14 times.
In addition, he’s blessed with a 6-6 wingspan so he’s capable of contesting shots when defending taller point guards. And with a lane agility time (10.53 seconds) and shuttle run time (2.82 seconds) at last month’s combine which ranked sixth and third, respectively, Edwards has the kind of lateral quickness that the Celtics are looking for defensively.
Among the last 10 players selected when Boston scooped him up with the 51st overall pick, Tremont Waters has a lot of skills - high basketball I.Q., plays both ends of the floor with great intensity - that fit in well with what the Celtics are looking for.
And with the backcourt of the Celtics being so wide open as it is, this has the makings of being an ideal landing spot for a late second-round pick such as Waters.
But the biggest hurdle he has to overcome, frankly, he can’t change.
He measured in at just under 5-11 at last month’s combine, making him the shortest player there.
Finding a way to not allow his slight frame be a factor, more than anything else, will determine his future as an NBA player.
He’ll get a shot to compete for a roster spot with the rest of the team’s newcomers.
But don’t be surprised if he winds up with the Celtics’ G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, for most, if not all, of this upcoming season.
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