Boston Celtics

By Matt Dolloff,

Danny Ainge has been known to engage in some misdirection. But would he do it by wasting time working out draft prospects that he doesn’t intend to draft?

Based on the majority of NBA Draft prospects who worked out for the C’s, Ainge is planning on bolstering the backcourt amid a lack of shooting guard depth behind Jaylen Brown and uncertain futures with pretty much everyone. Who knows where Kyrie Irving will be after next season? Meanwhile, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier may not be in Ainge’s long-term plans.

But at the same time, the Celtics also worked out a handful of frontcourt prospects who could play the wing or man the paint, and have been connected to others. The Celtics arguably have a more pressing need for size to back up Al Horford on the depth chart, especially if they don’t retain Aron Baynes.

The C’s were previously linked to top draft prospect Mo Bamba, but that all sounded like some classic Ainge sleight-of-hand. While you can’t rule out anything with “Trader Danny” and it’s possible he moves into the top-5 to draft someone he truly believes in as a foundational piece, it’s still likely that the Celtics stand pat at No. 27.

Here are some names to know that might fall to the end of the first round and entice Ainge and the Celtics:

Omari Spellman, Forward, Villanova: The NCAA champion worked out for the Celtics back in May. He’s projected as a late-first-round pick because he’s still raw as a player, but he does check off some boxes for Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens. He has the size and length (6-foot-9, 7-foot-2 wingspan) to play power forward on both ends, but he can also Stretch The Floor™ with his three-point shooting. He’ll draw defenders to the perimeter with his catch-and-shoot ability immediately at the NBA level. He’s a work-in-progress in other areas and won’t be a great rim protector on defense, but Stevens would certainly find ways to fit him in.

Mitchell Robinson, Center, Western Kentucky: Well, Robinson was only technically at Western Kentucky. He got suspended as a freshman for violating team rules, and … never enrolled anywhere else. He declared for the draft, but withdrew from the Combine. Needless to say, Robinson is one of the more enigmatic NBA draft prospects in recent memory. But his talent has long been described as lottery-worthy; he’s an athletic 7-footer with a strong defensive game and upside on offense. And Ainge hasn’t exactly shied away from questionable characters in the past, either.

Billy Preston, Forward, BC Ikogea (Bosnia): The 6-foot-10 Preston played in a Bosnian league after leaving Kentucky in the wake of an NCAA investigation. He’s known as an athletic big who can score around the basket, but his defense may never measure up. The Celtics were compelled enough to work him out, but it sounds like Preston could ultimately fall into the second round.

Deng Adel, Forward, Louisville: He stands at 6-foot-7, so he’s more of a wing player than a stretch-four. But Adel does have the bulk to play power forward if necessary, and he has good potential on defense. He’s also known as a prospect with the ability to score from anywhere, although his three-pointers still have room for improvement. He has upside as a 3&D player for the C’s.

All four of these guys have potential to fall past the first round, so the Celtics may need to acquire a second-rounder if they’re interested in taking these guys without making a reach. But Spellman, in particular, looks like an intriguing prospect, especially for Stevens’ system.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at