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Celtics choice: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward

05.23.16 at 9:25 am ET
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As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Wizards guard Bradley Beal (assuming he re-signs in Washington or somewhere else) or Jazz guard Gordon Hayward.

The case for Beal

At 6-foot-5, Beal has the ideal length to be a shooting guard, the role he’s most prominently served in Washington next to John Wall. He averaged a team-leading and career-best 17.4 points per game over 55 games this past season. He led the Wizards in their 10 playoff games from 2015 when he averaged 23.4 points. He is a career 40 percent shooter from 3-point range, another huge plus in the Stevens system. He is still very, very young, only turning 23 in June.

The case against Beal

Not worth the trouble and way too complicated. To acquire Beal, the Celtics could either go out and spend for him as a restricted free agent, opening the door for the Wizards to match or use Bird rights on him. Beal’s spent his first four years trying to prove he is a part of Washington’s future. Beal is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1 because he and the team didn’t come to terms on a contract extension before a Nov. 2 deadline. “I want to be here. I don’t know,” Beal said, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t even know what I’m getting into right now. It’s like choosing colleges again. But I’m happy where I am. Hopefully, we can agree with each other this summer and we can get it done. But if not, it’s a business at the end of the day.”

The case for Hayward

Upward trend. Hayward, only 26, entered the NBA at the age of 20 after two only two years under Brad Stevens at Butler (nearly winning the NCAA championship with a half-court heave at the buzzer against Duke). In six years with the Jazz, his scoring has steadily increased each year, averaging 19.3 and 19.7 points in each of his last two seasons. He earned a four-year, $62.9 million deal after the 2013-14 season. He is in the third year of that deal. Obviously, he has an existing relationship with Stevens and knows exactly what the coach expects from him on offense. He’s also been durable, starting 77, 76 and 80 games in each of the last three seasons. He has become an elite small forward in the NBA and his contract didn’t faze him. 

The case against Hayward

Really splitting hairs here but his defense is not elite, at least not yet. The Celtics were very good defensively at times last year with a small lineup but not as strong as they got longer on the court. Hayward has made big strides and can more than hold his own defensively. If the Celtics decide to bring back Evan Turner, that would seem to be a lot of money tied up in two players who essentially do the same thing, playing small forward/shooting guard. Also, the final year of Hayward’s contract (2017-18) is a player option and he and agent Mark Bartelstein could look to break the bank, giving the Celtics really only one year with him under control. 

The verdict

Hayward has risen to become a true small forward/shooting guard hybrid in the elite Western Conference. His versatility and what he could do in Stevens’ system, along with a previous relationship with the head coach, would make this a no-brainer if the Celtics decide to pursue that option. 

Should the Celtics use the third pick in the draft to trade for Bradley Beal or Gordon Hayward?

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward
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