By Sean Sylver, 98.5 The Sports Hub
There are certain sporting events you circle on the calendar alongside the holidays.
In my household, the NBA Draft has long been one of those events. But just as the CDC advises holiday gatherings should look a bit different this year, so did Wednesday night's draft.
For one, it's November. And amid various health and safety concerns, the league eschewed its traditional in-person pageantry for a remote format featuring top prospects on their couches at home, surrounded by family members.
This stripped the ESPN broadcast of its traditional creature comforts. The loud suits, hat-swapping, and awkward handshakes with Adam Silver? Wait 'til next year. But we did get plenty of bawling in virtual interviews.
There were a couple of trades. Daryl Morey and the 76ers shuffled the deck, moving Al Horford to Oklahoma City before the event kicked off. With all the recent speculation about Gordon Hayward, it got me thinking…
So how about Hayward to OKC for Horford? #Celtics
— Sean Sylver (@TheSylverFox) November 19, 2020
I mean, the Celtics beat the Heat last year with Al instead of Daniel Theis and his 25 fouls, right?
The Sixers would later trade Josh Richardson to Dallas for Seth Curry. And that was pretty much it for deals, as well as my Twitter activity for the evening. Pushing 40, spending draft night refreshing my phone is like having more than a couple of beers on a night out. I'm going to regret it. I don't keep a running tally of whether Shams or Woj had it first and I don't care.
As the tears flowed during round one, I thought of Terry Rozier. Was he sad? His Hornets selected point guard LaMelo Ball with the third pick, which means he might be out of a starting job. It also to this exchange with my wife:
“Is he [Ball] better than his brother?”
“Yeah. He can shoot.”
After a beat, ESPN dropped the stat that Ball shot 25 percent from deep last year.
LaMelo Ball of the Hawks in action during the round 9 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Illawarra Hawks at Spark Arena on November 30, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
“I mean, ah, he’s a scorer,” I stammered.
Moving through the lottery, you can sign this gardening enthusiast up for the Patrick Williams fan club. The fourth overall pick to the Chicago Bulls apparently had a high school job delivering flowers for his mom's business. I'm also an immediate fan of anybody with Rec Specs, so consider me hyped for the Jalen Smith era in Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Bruce Pearl with a beard looks like a combination of Jim Irsay and the Ultimate Warrior circa 2014. The Obi Toppin selection means the Knicks may be the first team to roll out a starting five comprised entirely of power forwards. And the Celtics...
As Ty Anderson noted, it's silly season around here for the umpteenth time. I’m on the record saying I'm good with Hayward returning. Unless Danny Ainge can identify a direct upgrade for this year or a player with long-term value, why make a move just to make a move? Why make this year's team worse?
Boston needs bench help. By choosing Aaron Nesmith with the 14th pick, Ainge added a shooter off the pine. But can we expect Nesmith - coming off a broken foot and with no summer league experience - to step in and light it up? How's his defense?
And Payton Pritchard - isn't that the name of a guy who pitched for the Red Sox last year?
I can't sit through another season of wondering if Boston's reserves can be counted on to provide consistent minutes at the NBA level. I doubt Brad Stevens wants to, either. The bench (as well as the interior) was a major weakness in the playoffs. Ainge needs to make a move for a veteran. It didn't happen last night, but there's still time. A decision on Hayward is due today, and who knows how many dominoes could be put in motion with that.
I want the Celtics to stay the course and grow into a contender. They're on the doorstep. The doomsday scenario of James Harden in Brooklyn appears to have passed. The Bucks just fumbled an opportunity to further upgrade their roster. Out West, the Warriors might be facing another season without Klay Thompson.
But some veteran help could push this team over the top.
No fireworks. That's fine. Probably better for the environment. Can I at least get a sparkler?
Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.