Blakely: Celtics may come up with a winner at No. 27

Blakely: Celtics may come up with a winner at No. 27

BOSTON -- The Celtics aren’t expected to try and move up in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

Judging by the success teams in recent years have had at their draft position, you can understand why.

Indeed, the 27th pick in recent years has been -- on many levels -- as good or better than players selected several slots higher in their respective draft.

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Look at last year’s draft, one in which the Los Angeles Lakers nabbed Kyle Kuzma with the 27th overall pick. As a rookie, he averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in earning a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team -- the only player drafted outside of the lottery (top 14) to be chosen for the first unit.

In the previous season, Toronto selected Pascal Siakam from New Mexico at No. 27. He appeared in 55 games as a rookie, making a total of 36 starts while averaging 4.3 points per game. This past season he was key to a strong bench that played an instrumental role in Toronto recording a franchise-record 59 wins, giving the Raptors the best record in the East for the first time in franchise history.

As you continue to look at the 27th pick lineage, it’s clear that all the talk about Boston being able to find a player who can contribute that late in the draft isn’t overly optimistic.

Rudy Gobert, drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2012 at No. 27, has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team three times and will be in contention for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award again. He was also on the All-NBA second team in 2017.

Last season Boston finished with the second-best record in the East with a roster that was the league’s fifth-youngest. Most of that core group is set to return, with only Marcus Smart (restricted) and Aron Baynes (unrestricted) on the free-agent market. Finding a potential replacement for either of those guys is possible (unlikely, but definitely possible) with the 27th pick.

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More important than that, Boston has to continue to add players who can produce regardless of their position.

And while it’s certainly a far cry from the last two years, when the Celtics had the third overall pick in each draft (Jaylen Brown in 2016, Jayson Tatum in 2017), history has shown that teams can find more than just a warm body at No. 27. The Celts hope to add another chapter to that narrative this week.

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Mazz: Almost guarantee Ainge called Pelicans about Kyrie

Mazz: Almost guarantee Ainge called Pelicans about Kyrie

Tony Massarotti says that he is ‘willing to bet’ that Danny Ainge has been making phone calls around the league about Kyrie Irving.

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Report: Danny Ainge and Celtics made trade offer for Kawhi Leonard in February

Report: Danny Ainge and Celtics made trade offer for Kawhi Leonard in February

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics reached out to the Spurs about trading for Kawhi Leonard.

Woj reports:

The Boston Celtics made a trade offer to San Antonio before the February deadline, but the Spurs turned it down --- and never made a counterproposal, league sources said. San Antonio wasn't willing to discuss deals for Leonard in February. So far this spring, the Spurs remain resistant to trades.

If reconciliation talks don't go well with Leonard, San Antonio has time to reconsider that stance. For example, Boston has the most appealing assets: starry young players and Sacramento's No. 1-protected 2019 first-round pick.

Woj also goes on to say that the Celtics thinking about trading for Leonard could have changed since the trade deadline, with the performance of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum following Kyrie Iriving's season ending injury, leading Boston to a fairly improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Any trade with the Spurs would surely cost Boston at least one of Tatum or Brown, along with other assets. Leonard played only 9 games this season for the Spurs.

Peter Vecsey reported in early May that the Spurs intended to trade Leonard this offseason. Also, Dwyane Wade said he thinks Kawhi will end up in Boston.

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