The sobering truth of the Celtics‘ 57-loss season is now settling in. All it was worth is the No. 6 overall pick in June’s NBA draft. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers won the lottery for a third time in four years since LeBron James left for Miami — this time with a 1.7 percent chance — seriously? Anyway, there’s a lot of chatter about whom Boston should use the pick on, as well as what to trade it for.
If Danny Ainge chooses to (or is forced to) use the pick, he most likely will be left with three worthy prospects to select from. But before discussing them, let’s be clear. Using this pick signifies heading into a full-on rebuild; one that probably doesn’t include Rajon Rondo. If I’m Ainge, I use the pick (along with any assets it takes) to go after Kevin Love at all costs.
Pairing Rondo and Love would put the most difficult stage of getting back into contention behind us. Boston likely still would have a few assets left over, along with the cap space to find the third star it takes to win in this league. For argument’s sake, let’s say Ainge goes the opposite direction. Here’s how the draft should shake down.
Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are essentially locks to be taken in some order with the first three picks. And the Magic are one of the teams most intrigued by Dante Exum, making it tough to see them passing on the Australian guard when they pick fourth.
The Jazz are the mystery team. Will they keep the fifth pick or trade it? Regardless, the team in that spot will be picking from four players, in all likelihood. Which leaves Ainge taking one of the remaining three top-level prospects. The following are the four players projected to be taken with picks 5-8.
Noah Vonleh, Indiana, freshman: 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks
As I mentioned in my last column, Vonleh was the big winner of the combine — to the point that he is viewed as the player most likely to be picked fifth overall. I am on the opposite end of the spectrum, I see Vonleh as the eighth-best player in the draft. Still, he would be a decent fit in Boston. This is primarily because he is a much different player than Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk.