By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Celtics are set to enter next week’s 2020 NBA Draft with the No. 14, No. 26, and No. 30 overall picks in the first round, as well as the No. 47 overall pick in the second round.
For most teams, it’s a building block towards something. But for a win-now Celtics squad facing a roster crunch, it’s an issue.
“It’s not ideal if we add four rookies to the team that we currently have,” the Celtics’ Danny Ainge admitted Wednesday.
That unfavorable position has, of course, led to some obvious trade speculation. There’s already been talk of the Celtics ‘aggressively’ trying to trade-up in this draft, and word of the No. 14 overall pick being the ‘most prevalent’ in trade talks.
No matter how we look at it, or how the Celtics potentially consolidate their draft capital via trade, it borders on impossible to truly imagine the Celtics making three selections in the first round, or four selections in total as currently slated.
But Ainge isn’t ready to call these picks must-trade assets.
“I wouldn’t say it’s more important [to make a trade]. I think we always look — all the way up until we make the pick — at all the possibilities that exist,” said Ainge. “We talk to every team in the draft and we come up with lots of different ideas of trades we want to make. But you have to do good deals. I say that all the time. It’s not a matter of just about making deals.”
That said, the Celtics certainly have made their share of draft deals in recent years. There’s the unforgettable 2017 draft pick swap with the Sixers that netted Boston Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 overall pick, and the 2019 NBA Draft was full of shuffling, with the Celtics making two trades before the end of the first round.
Their 2019 path could be what we see this time around, too, given Ainge’s description of this year’s draft class.
“One of the challenges is that this is not a great draft, but it’s a fairly deep draft,” Ainge noted. “And when we’re looking to trade players, not every rookie is the same. Not every rookie is a 19-year-old that needs his hand held and needs to spend a year in the G-League. Some rookies are much more mature, ready to step in and play right away in a certain role.”
The Celtics have recent experience with both kinds of rookies, too. There’s players like Romeo Langford, who battled injuries and struggled to find minutes on a loaded depth chart, after being drafted with the No. 14 overall pick. Then there’s guys like late first-round pick Grant Williams (No. 22 overall in 2019) and second-round pick Semi Ojeleye (No. 37 overall in 2017).
“When you draft a player like Semi Ojeleye or Grant Williams, they’re grown adults,” Ainge said. “And then there’s other kinds of rookies, as we all know. That matters, too. Not all draft picks have to be kids that have their hand held, but there are many rookies who come in and they are the hardest working and the most diligent.”
But finding room for more of those players on this team is a difficult task. Same for rookies that need more hands-on teaching.
Like Ainge said, not ideal.