Grading the 2016 Boston Celtics Draft
On the morning of June 23rd the Boston Celtics controlled 13% of the 2016 NBA Draft. With eight picks, Celtic fans were eager for GM Danny Ainge to make a big splash — either by trading the 3rd overall pick (acquired from Brooklyn for the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett deal) or drafting a player who would help the Celtics win now. Ainge did neither.
At the TD Garden draft party, the longing Garden faithful showered the bannered rafters with a flurry of boos as Adam Silver announced the third pick in the draft: Jaylen Brown.
Was this a good choice by Ainge and company? Did the Celtics trade any of their picks? Below is a graded recap of all of Boston’s moves made yesterday during the draft.
Number three overall (Celtic pick 1 of 8): Jaylen Brown, SF, California
The legacy of Danny Ainge as a GM in Boston rests on this pick. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year shoots an impressive 48% from inside the arc and is getting better every day. It was reported earlier this week the Brown hit 75/100 of his three point attempts and was invited back for a rare second workout. Ainge and the entire front office was sold on Brown from the minute they met him. Brown is a smart and athletic kid with a terrific wingspan and defensive potential. The only flaw with Brown is that he is still very raw and figuring out his game. Brown will likely back-up Jae Crowder and try to mold his game after the Marquette forward. This pick gets a B+ because Brown does not necessarily help the Celtics “win now,” but Brown holds the potential to be an NBA superstar.
Number sixteen overall (Celtic pick 2 of 8): Guerschon Yabusele, PF, International
I get it. The Celtics don’t have the roster space for eight picks and were projected to “draft and stash” several international players anyway. While the 6’8”, 270 lbs power-forward has very interesting potential, he may have been over-reached for just a tad by the Celtics (I had him outside the first round in my mock draft). Ainge says he picked the best available at 16, yet names like Deyonta Davis, Henry Ellenson, and Wade Baldwin IV were all still available. Yabusele is a fast and agile big who can step back and knock down shots and could very well develop into a nice role playing big for the C’s in the future.
Number twenty-three overall (Celtic pick 3 of 8): Ante Zizic, C, International
I thought the C’s would draft Zizic at twenty-three and they did just that. Zizic is only 19 years old and will probably play overseas and develop much like Yabusele. Zizic is more of a true center and has a solid frame and athletic abilities. His game is high-energy which is always a must when playing under Celtic coach Brad Stevens. Zizic is a great rebounder and will fight to earn his spot in Boston in the near future.
*Number thirty-one overall (Celtic pick 4 of 8): Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State — Traded to Memphis
*Number thirty-five overall (Celtic pick 5 of 8): Rade Zagorac, PF, International — Traded to Memphis
The Celtics traded their first two second round picks to Memphis in exchange for the Los Angeles Clippers first round pick in 2019 (previously owned by Memphis). The pick is lottery protected (1–14) for both the 2019 and 2020 seasons. If Boston does not receive the pick in 2019/2020, they will receive LA’s 2022 second round pick. Again the move makes sense as these two player would struggle to make the roster due to the lack of spots. The only downside is LA’s protection on the pick. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Reddick, are all unsigned through the 2018 season. With the rumors surrounding Griffin and Paul leaving, there is a good chance the Clippers will be rebuilding at that time and the C’s will end up getting a high second round pick in 2022.
Number forty-five overall (Celtic pick 6 of 8): Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame
If the Celtics needed a guard, they would have used the number three pick on one. However, the value and upside Jackson holds is an absolute steal at 45 (I had him going 17). Jackson can jump out of the gym and makes up for his lack of size with speed and athleticism. While his three-point percentage dropped from his sophomore season, he shoots 41% from three off the catch. Jackson could find himself on the Celtic’s opening day roster if he has an impressive summer and plays to his potential.
Number fifty-one overall (Celtic pick 7 of 8): Ben Bentil, PF, Providence
Bentil is very efficient offensively and can shoot the ball with confidence. He plays with high-energy and improved drastically from his freshman season. While Boston’s 2015 second round pick Jordan Mickey has great defensive abilities, Bentil will likely be competing against him for a spot on the C’s roster.
Number fifty-eight overall (Celtic pick 8 of 8): Abdel Nader, PF, Iowa State
Nader adds versatility and depth to the Celtics. He is an above average shooter, yet his size is under par for his position. I do not think Nader will make the D-league roster after the summer and think the Celtics should have taken a player with higher upside like AJ English or Gary Payton II.
Overall the 2016 Boston Celtics NBA Draft yielded a final grade of a B. They drafted players that can develop overtime, make an impact this season, and traded picks for future assets. Danny Ainge’s biggest draft in Boston is complete — now only time will tell how he did.