Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Celtics’ mock draft a coin flip
|04.24.14 at 2:16 pm ET|
If you’re a Celtics fan, then you know this: Boston has never had lottery luck. This year, the C’s tough luck started early. With the lottery still almost a month away, the C’s already lost a coin flip to Utah, breaking the tie for the fourth position.
Here’s what losing the coin flip means for the Celtics‘ draft selection.
- 1. The Celtics get one less combination for a top-three pick than the Jazz. This is the least of Danny Ainge‘s concerns. Utah has a 10.4 percent chance at the top pick, and Boston has a 10.3 percent shot. The C’s also have 11.1 and 12.0 percent chances at second or third, respectively.
- 2. The Celtics cannot pick fourth. If both teams miss out on a top-three pick, Utah receives the higher draft spot. As a result, Boston has a 66.6 percent chance of picking between 5-8 if they don’t win a lottery spot.
- 3. The Celtics’ most likely spot to draft is sixth. In fact, there’s a higher chance they pick sixth (34.2 percent) than in the top three (33.4). It’s safe to say they’ll be in the top seven, although there’s a 0.3 percent chance they pick eighth.
Until May 20, as I say in every draft piece, nobody can be sure of anything. That being said, let’s pretend the Ping Pong balls fall exactly as they’re suppose to, even if they most certainly will not. Here is my mock draft for picks 1-17 as of April 24, covering both of Ainge’s first-round selections.
- 1. BUCKS: Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) — One of the fun things about this draft is that we have no clue who is going to get picked first … or second … or third. But NBA executives believe Parker is the best player in the draft. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported as much. In his poll of 30 NBA execs, 17 would take Parker No. 1 overall (8 said Joel Embiid, 5 went for Andrew Wiggins).
- 2. 76ERS: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) — Wiggins would be a great fit in Philly. They have a young point guard who will soon be Rookie of the Year, and while they still need to find out what Nerlens Noel is, Wiggins would give them the young wing they need to cultivate a star trio.
- 3. MAGIC: Dante Exum (Australia) — Here’s a twist. I’m not going to lie; I do not know as much as I would like to about Exum. But I’ll tell you what I do know: he’s a legit 6-foot-6 combo guard, meaning his size and skill-set are rare to find in the same player. Scouts love him, and the Magic apparently really love him. He has received Penny Hardaway comparisons, which would make Magic fans happy if he avoids injury.
- 4. JAZZ: Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) — Exum’s rise makes for an odd pick at four. You absolutely can’t pass on a talent like Embiid here, but the Jazz are also stocked with young bigs. They could add him to the rotation, or maybe even work a trade at the top of the draft. As of today, it seems impossible for Embiid to fall past four, and he’s still a very likely top-three pick once we see how the lottery plays out.
- 5. CELTICS: Aaron Gordon (Arizona, freshman) – Somewhat of another surprise here, but Gordon is another player that many feel is on the rise. If Gordon slides further, it is because scouts view him as an NBA ‘tweener. However, Gordon is also seen as a Blake Griffin clone (they even kind of look alike). If that’s the case, Gordon is a no-brainer at five. Jared Sullinger and Julius Randle are a tempting combo, but Gordon’s defense and versatility makes him a better fit in Boston if they miss out on the top prospects. If the draft were to play out like this, it wouldn’t be a surprise for Ainge to trade the pick for a veteran, or even move up to four to get Embiid. If they use it, though, I see Gordon as the best fit.
- 6. LAKERS: Julius Randle (Kentucky, freshman) — The Lakers have the ability to rebuild through free agency, so this gives them the freedom to simply take the best player on the board. At this point, Randle is most likely just that. If Pau Gasol is re-signed, they can play side-by-side. If Gasol walks, Randle can fill in as his replacement. Or the Lakers could trade the pick for Kevin Love, because they’re the Lakers.
- 7. KINGS: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) – Smart has been through a lot of adversity this past season, but there is no denying his talent. The Kings could use a big, strong combo guard, and Smart brings them that. If he keeps his head on straight, Smart has as much potential as almost anyone in the draft.
- 8. PISTONS: Doug McDermott (Creighton, senior) – The Pistons have a stacked frontcourt, but one of them could be moved this summer. Regardless, McDermott can help them right away. This guy is no Adam Morrison. He can really play. Speaking of Morrison, if for some reason a team jumps Detroit and gets into the top-three (unlikely), this pick goes to the Bobcats. Detroit owns the pick top-eight protected.
- 9. CAVALIERS: Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) — Vonleh has the talent to be selected higher, but it’s hard to argue with the names above him. Vonleh probably has the most upside on the board here, so the Cavs should roll with him. Cleveland is a mess right now, though, so who knows how their offseason will play out?
- 10. 76ERS: Gary Harris (Michigan State, sophomore) – If the Sixers do add Wiggins to what they already have, they would have a ton of raw talent to develop. Harris gives them more of a sure thing. He’s not going to blow anyone away with his game, but he is very solid in all aspects, plays hard and can score the ball.
- 11. NUGGETS: Dario Saric (Croatia) — Saric is a 6-foot-10 forward that plays inside and outside. He has been called a “point power forward,” and for a team like Denver with a lot of bangers down low, Saric could bring them some versatility.
- 12. MAGIC: Tyler Ennis (Syracus, freshman) — Ennis is a perfect pick for the Magic. Jameer Nelson is on his way out, and even though they already have Exum in this draft, the two can play in the backcourt together. The beauty of taking Exum is that they can use him at either guard spot, which keeps their options open with this pick (via the Knicks). Ennis is a real gamer and always seems to keep his cool.
- 13. TIMBERWOLVES: Nik Stauskas (Michigan, sophomore) – Stauskas is another guy climbing the board, and rightfully so. He can be a very solid off-guard in the league if he reaches his potential. He is a spectacular shooter, and an underrated athlete. He would fit well with the Wolves.
- 14. SUNS: K.J. McDaniels (Clemson, junior) — McDaniels, believe it or not, is one of the most explosive players in the draft. The Suns had 48 wins this season, so they want help right away for a playoff push next year. McDaniels is 21 years old, and his game should easily translate to the league.
- 15. HAWKS: T.J. Warren (N.C. State, sophomore) — Another ACC star that gets overlooked. Warren actually beat out Parker for ACC Player of the Year this past season, averaging 24.9 points his sophomore season. Warren could bring the Hawks the wing scoring they need right away.
- 16. BULLS: James Young (Kentucky, freshman) — At this point, you remember Young for his insane slam over seemingly the entire UConn squad in the championship game. But getting to the rim is just part of Young’s game. He is a fantastic shooter, and the Bulls always seem to be looking for wing scorers, especially after the loss of Luol Deng. (This pick is from the Bobcats).
- 17. CELTICS: Shabazz Napier (UConn, senior) — Call it a hometown pick, but this is a smart one. Napier is more of a sure thing to become a star than any player left on the board, so it really is an easy decision. Whether Rajon Rondo is in Boston or not (I believe he will be), Napier is the guy to take here. Shabazz gets to come home and grow into the star he likely will become. This is a best-player-on-the-board scenario. It just happens to be a hometown guy that plays the same position as your best player.
(Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow)