After trading their first round pick to Oklahoma City earlier this offseason, the Celtics have just one selection to make in the 2021 NBA Draft. That will come in the second round, 45th overall.
While that may seem late, there is plenty of depth in this year’s draft class. What will the Celtics do with that pick? Here are some options…
Dead-eye shooter if there ever was one. Sam Hauser spent three seasons at Marquette then finished his collegiate ball at Virginia. In his redshirt senior season, the 6-foot-8 forward started all 25 games, averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per contest. Plus, Hauser shot 42 percent from deep and put in 2.5 threes a game. If the stats don’t impress you, he also has plenty of accolades, including All-ACC First Team and being a Julius Erving Award Finalist. Hauser showed out during the NBA Combine with his deep stroke which caught the attention of many scouts. He’s not the most impressive defensively, but he is a long body that can shoot from the outside and stretch the floor - something the Celtics have looked for in the past.
Defensive bruiser is one way to describe Kai Jones. He may not be the most talented on offense, but at 6-foot-11 he can swat shots away like they are flies on a window. Jones played two seasons at Texas, most recently putting up nine points, five rebounds and one block per game. There are questions surrounding him like is he strong enough, is he experienced enough, can teams look past his offensive flaws. However, if you are looking for a defensive stopper, Jones is your guy. The Celtics already have someone like that in Robert Williams though.
An up and comer with a lot of upside. Unlike some players who get to college already being “the guy” and have had NBA potential since they were in diapers, Trey Murphy has been steadily improving into a pro. He began at Rice University before transferring to Virginia for his final season. There he averaged 11 points and three rebounds per game and had some impressive shooting splits - 50 percent from the field, 43 percent from 3-point range and 93 percent from the free throw line. Murphy is a solid two-way player and shows a lot of heart on the court. He may take some time to blossom into a role player or starter, but his upside is there. If the C’s are willing to wait a little bit, they could have another Gordon Hayward-esque player.
The definition of a one-and-done. Sharife Cooper was a five-star, top-25 recruit coming out of high school and only needed one season at Auburn to prove that he is pro ready. The 6-foot-1 guard is shifty and quick, making him difficult to guard. He earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors for averaging 20 points, eight assists, four rebounds and one steal per game last season. Cooper isn’t a deep threat, but instead likes to get to the inside and finish amongst the trees. Plus, he has great court vision and always finds the open teammate. If he plays in the NBA like he did in college, he will draw a lot of comparisons to Ja Morant. Plainly put, Cooper could be an absolute game changer if the Celtics scoop him.
Strong, do-it-all type of guard. Miles McBride has been surprising people ever since he left high school. As just a three-star recruit, the Ohio-native didn’t get too much attention from big schools, yet in his first season at West Virginia, McBride was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. He followed that up with an All-Big 12 nod last season after putting up 16 points, four rebounds and five assists per game, while shooting 41 percent from deep. McBride is a strong dude at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and is as versatile as it comes. He is slightly prone to turning the ball over, but makes up for it with just below two steals per game last season. McBride would fit perfectly into the Celtics system and has more upside than most of their current reserve guards.
Long, lanky pure shooter. Nah’Shon Hyland may not be the strongest of prospects, but he sure does have the length. The Delaware-native is 6-foot-3, 173 pounds with an impressive 6-foot-10 wingspan. That length helps on the defensive end, where he averaged two steals per outing last season. Offensively, Hyland is a dangerous long-range shooter putting up 20 points with three threes per game in 2020-2021. His deep-ball shooting percentage dipped from 43 percent his freshman year to 37 percent this past year, but that was mostly likely a product of more defensive attention. Hyland has okay handles, so being a point guard will take some time. He is more of a Jordan Clarkson-esque player that can come off the bench and add some shooting immediately, which is what the Celtics need but already have some similar young prospects.
Solid center that does his job. If you are looking for a middle-of -the-pack center, Balsa Koprivica is your guy. He’s not too flashy, but at 7-foot-1, you don’t need to be. The center is from Serbia and spent two seasons at Florida State, where last season he turned in nine points, six rebounds and one block per game. He’s efficient down low, shooting 69 percent from the field and doesn’t really venture out. Simply put, Koprivica is a serviceable center with some great height. Any team, including the Celtics, can find a use for that.
Big guard/forward that contributes just about everywhere. Joe Wieskamp had one of the best three-year careers at Iowa that you can have. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward started all 97 games of his collegiate career and is the first Hawkeye junior in program history with 1,250+ points, 550+ rebounds, 175+ 3-pointers, 100+ assists, 75+ steals. His form from outside is beautiful, shooting at a 46 percent clip from deep last season. In 2020-2021, Wieskamp averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and two assists per game. All of this success earned him Big Ten All-Freshman Team and two All-Big Ten nods. He’s got some serious offensive talent, but his below-average defense will most likely drop him to a Round 2 selection.
Young buck that could be a sleeper pick. Daishen Nix took a different route after high school. The class of 2020 recruit didn’t sign with any of the many colleges that offered him, which included Gonzaga, Kansas and UCLA. Instead, he opted to go to the G-League where many top recruits are beginning to go. Coming out of high school, Nix was a five-star, top-20 recruit. In the G-League, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged nine points, five rebounds and five assists per game - pretty average numbers. Nix has great ball skills, court vision and is crafty with how he gets to the basket. However, finishing amongst the bigger NBA players may prove to be difficult. He’s not the best three-point shooter either. Nix will be a Second Round pick and will most likely need a couple years to mature. The Celtics already have a bunch of those guys, so he may not make too much sense in Boston.
Pure scorer that lacks defensively and athletically. Matthew Hurt isn’t going to jump off the page when it comes to athleticism. The Duke product is 6-foot-9, 235 pounds. He knows how to use his body and has good control inside and out, but defensively he can get picked on at times. Offensively, he averaged 18 points on 64 percent shooting from the field and 44 percent from three last year. That earned him ACC Most Improved Player and All-ACC First Team. Hurt is a solid player, but isn’t impressing too many scouts through the draft process. He’ll most likely be a late Second Round selection, if he’s drafted at all. Hurt is another player that will require some development time that the Celtics may not want to deal with.
Uber athletic defensive specialist. Yves Pons is an abnormality - he played all four years at Tennessee and he cared more about defense than offense. The France-native is 6-foot-6, 215 pounds and has a laundry list of accolades on his resume, including SEC Defensive Player of the Year and two-time SEC All-Defensive Team. Pons is a lockdown perimeter defender, but can also protect the paint, averaging two blocks per game last season. He can also contribute offensively and on the boards at a pretty average rate. Pons plays with the nitty-gritty attitude Boston fans love and will most likely still be available in the Second Round or after the draft for the C’s to scoop him up.
An offensively-driven big man looking to round out his game at the next level. Garza has drawn comparisons to Enes Kanter, who had a short yet strong run in Boston, and Nikola Vucevic, who the Celtics have often been linked to in trade rumors. The 2021 consensus national player of the year has a deft touch around the rim on the offensive end, and can contribute on the glass. Lack of mobility hurts him on the defensive end, but he could turn into useful role player in the NBA. He'd also provide the Celtics front-court depth in the event they need to move Robert Williams or Moses Brown in a trade.