Will Celtics get Grizzlies' first-round pick in 2020? Here are the scenarios

Will Celtics get Grizzlies' first-round pick in 2020? Here are the scenarios

The Boston Celtics could still end up with a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and it all depends on the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies will send their 2020 first-round pick to the Celtics if it lands outside the top six. If it lands inside the top six, then Memphis would send its 2021 pick to Boston unprotected.

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The popular opinion is it would benefit the Celtics to get the pick this year because the Grizzlies are a team on the rise with a roster of young stars such as Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. While it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if the Grizzlies continued their improvement into next season, it’s far from a guarantee. The Western Conference is loaded, and there are three or four teams behind the Grizzlies that also could take major leaps next season. One of them is the New Orleans Pelicans, who are hoping No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson is able to play most of his sophomore campaign after missing the majority of his rookie season.

Another reason why the C’s might prefer to get the Grizzlies pick next year instead of this season is the quality of the 2020 draft class. This year’s draft isn’t rich with franchise cornerstone-type players, unlike the last two classes. The 2020 class has pretty good depth, but it lacks the type of superstar talent we’ve seen in recent years.

Let’s look at the scenarios at play for the Celtics.

The most likely one is the Grizzlies hold on to the eighth seed in the Western Conference and make the playoffs. This result would place them outside the lottery and send their pick to the C’s this year. The Grizzlies have two paths to the playoffs – keep the No. 8 seed or win a play-in tournament. Memphis has a 3.5-game lead for the final postseason berth, and under the league’s 22-team return plan, if the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in either conference are within four games of each other when the eight additional regular season games conclude, those clubs would compete in a play-in tournament for the No. 8 seed. The play-in tournament is single elimination for the No. 9 seed and double elimination for the No. 8 seed.

There are five teams in the Western Conference chasing the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the restart, and all of them are within six games of Memphis. The Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and Pelicans all are 3.5 games behind Memphis.

If the Grizzlies collapse and fail to reach the playoffs, their lottery position is already determined. The league announced Thursday that all lottery odds will be based on teams’ records through March 11. So, even if the Grizzlies went 0-8 in the restart and finished with a worse record than teams not included in the restart, they still would be slotted 14th in the lottery odds. The 2020 Draft Lottery is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 25.

The Grizzlies’ chances of jumping into the top four in the lottery as the 14th team are extremely slim. Here’s a breakdown of the odds:

So, even if the Grizzlies were in the lottery, it would be a huge upset if the Celtics didn’t get their first-round pick this year.

The smart money is on the Grizzlies winning the No. 8 seed and the Celtics getting their pick, which would be the No. 17 pick right now. Boston also has its own 2020 first-round pick and the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-rounder. The Celtics don’t need three more rookies on their roster, especially after they made two first-round selections in 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see how team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge uses these picks leading up to October’s draft.

2020 NBA Restart: How would Celtics fare in playoff series vs. Heat?

2020 NBA Restart: How would Celtics fare in playoff series vs. Heat?

Miami is always a tough opponent come playoff time, but the Boston Celtics have every reason to feel confident they would prevail if the two were to meet in the playoffs in Orlando. 

In their two regular season matchups, the Celtics won both by an average of 13.5 points. 

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Making the victories even more impressive was Boston playing without some top players, as Marcus Smart (illness) missed the Celtics’ 112-93 win at the TD Garden on Dec. 4 while Jayson Tatum (groin) and Enes Kanter (hip) were both sidelined for the rematch, a 109-101 Celtics win, in Miami on Jan. 28. 

In both wins, Jaylen Brown was the one player the Heat had no answer for containing. After dropping a season-high 31 points on Miami in the first matchup, Brown was just as dominant in the second meeting when he scored 25 points, only to be outshined by Gordon Hayward’s 29. 

For the Celtics, both wins came down to their ability to force Miami into the Jimmy Butler show while limiting the overall impact of those around him.

But the Heat team Boston could see in the playoffs will be better than the squad that the C's faced earlier in the season. Miami has been a notoriously bad three-point shooting team for years. But after the All-Star break, the Heat averaged 15.5 made threes per game, which was fifth-best in the league. And their 40.8 percent shooting on threes after the break was tops in the league. 

The Celtics' starting five has been strong all season, and will look to continue along that path if the two meet up in the playoffs.

For Miami to pull off the upset, look for the Heat’s bench to play a major role. Miami’s second unit averages 41.3 points per game which ranks seventh in the NBA. They would face a Boston squad that’s allowing a league-low 33.6 bench points per game. Part of that strong defense after the break has been Boston’s board work. After the break, they have a rebounding percentage of .510 which ranks ninth in the league, while the Heat’s .496 rebounding percentage ranks 20th. 


A. Sherrod Blakely: Miami is a better team now than it was during either of Boston’s two regular season wins. But Jayson Tatum’s meteoric rise combined with a healthy Kemba Walker will be too much for the Jimmy Butler-led Heat.

Prediction: Celtics in 5 games

Chris Forsberg: The Heat look a little different than the team Boston toppled twice in the regular season and added veteran, playoff-tested experience in Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder. While Jimmy Butler has a penchant for the big stage, he wasn’t able to get a loaded Philly roster out of the second round a year ago.

The task will be even more difficult here and Miami’s younger players will be challenged to maintain their regular-season production. If healthy, the Celtics have more pure talent overall and match up well against Miami’s small-ball ways.

Prediction: Celtics in 5 games

DJ Bean: We've seen Jimmy Butler's numbers drop in the postseason before, and while Bam Adebayo's a stud, they'd have the same problem virtually every team in the East will have: they just don't have the sheer number of stars Boston does. 

Prediction: Celtics in 5 or 6 games

Kara Lawson writes heartfelt tribute to Celtics after landing Duke job

Kara Lawson writes heartfelt tribute to Celtics after landing Duke job

Kara Lawson was only on the Celtics' coaching staff for one season, but it was clearly a special experience both for her and the team.

On Sunday, C's head coach Brad Stevens and some of the Celtics players both congratulated Lawson on her new job as head coach of the women's basketball team at Duke and described how much of an impact she made in her limited time in Boston.

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Marcus Smart was effusive in his praise for the former Olympic gold medalist, saying, "she became more than just my shooting coach, she became a longtime friend and somebody I know I can talk to if I ever need advice.”

On Wednesday morning, it was Lawson's turn to express her appreciation for the Celtics in an emotional social media post, writing, "These men have changed my life. I have loved my time with the Boston Celtics. Our players are authentic, intelligent, creative and passionate men. They motivated me every day to be my best for them."

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It’s been an emotional few days for me. And, while I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity in front of me at Duke University, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the team I’m leaving behind. These men have changed my life. I have loved my time with the Boston Celtics. Our players are authentic, intelligent, creative and passionate men. They motivated me every day to be my best for them. They surprised me last night by all wearing @DukeWBB T-shirts for an incredible show of support before I head to Durham. I cried. They would probably laugh and tell you I’ve cried a lot these last few days but I will tell you having relationships with players that move you to those kinds of emotions is the most meaningful pursuit one can have as a coach. I love them and I will miss them.

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Seeing the entire C's contingent decked out in Duke women's basketball shirts makes you realize the genuine affection and appreciation the players built for Lawson in such a short time — and it's no surprise that Jayson Tatum is front and center in the picture as Lawson heads to Durham.

Enes Kanter, always a consistent presence on social media, summed up the photo with a perfect one-word caption: FAMILY.

With Lawson leaving the Orlando bubble, the Celtics are replacing her on the traveling coaching staff with Brandon Bailey, who is also in his first season as a Celtics assistant.