Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 23: Jordan Walsh #13 of the Arkansas Razorbacks dribbles against Alex Karaban #11 of the Connecticut Huskies during the first half in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 23, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

A stunner of a midnight, three-team trade between the Celtics, Wizards, and Grizzlies late Wednesday night did more than bring Kristaps Porzingis to Boston and ship Marcus Smart to Memphis.

Most notably, it allowed the Celtics to move up 10 spots and jump back into the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft, with the No. 25 overall pick from the Grizzlies moved to Boston. But after a series of trades — with the trades at one point coming in at what’s best described as face-melting speed — Brad Stevens and the Celtics turned that No. 25 overall pick into one second-round selection from this year’s draft and four future second-round selections.

Overall, the Celtics-led trade frenzy led to four separate draft night deals made by the Celtics, and made Arkansas wing Jordan Walsh, grabbed with the No. 38 overall pick, the only rookie coming to Boston by the night’s end.

  • A 6-foot-7 talent with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Walsh comes to the Celtics after just one year with the Razorbacks.

    In action for 36 games (22 starts), the 19-year-old Walsh thrived as a defensive threat for Arkansas, with 17 blocks and 40 steals (including a four-steal game) in a freshman year that saw him tie a school record for most appearances by a freshman.

    “Jordan Walsh is one of the most explosive athletes in the country with big time bounce, length and defensive ability. He has all the tools and the upside but will need some time to develop before having a big impact at the NBA level,” Walsh’s scouting report on NBA Draft Room read. “His calling card is his defense. Walsh is a lock-down defender on the perimeter who plays an aggressive style and really gets after the ball. He can guard a multitude of positions and gives great effort on the defensive end of the court. He’s like a one man trap with his excessive length and active hands.”

    At the other end of the floor, Walsh’s offensive game will clearly need some work, as he averaged just 7.1 points per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the floor, including an ugly 28 percent from three-point range.

  • Walsh is also the highest-drafted player selected by the Celtics since Brad Stevens took over for Danny Ainge as the team’s president of basketball operations in 2021. Prior to this pick, Stevens’ draft resume featured second-round picks Juhann Begarin (No. 45 overall in 2021) and JD Davison (No. 53 overall in 2022).

    Interestingly (and obviously) enough, Stevens has yet to pick in the first round in three drafts on the job.

    Boston’s decision to (repeatedly) move down in the draft is all about roster flexibility, too, it would appear.

    Second-round selections do not come with guaranteed contracts (that’s up Boston’s alley given their upcoming financial commitments), and Boston’s decision to move down from No. 25 and ultimately down to No. 38 allowed them to stockpile second-round selections for the future and use their $5 million mid-level exception in the now.

  • May 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens looks on before game seven of the 2023 NBA playoffs between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens looks on before Game 7 of the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • As for the four trades made by the Celtics leading up to the Walsh selection, well, buckle up.

    When it came to the No. 25 overall pick, the Celtics flipped that to Detroit for the No. 31 overall pick and future second-round draft pick. The Pistons used the No. 25 overall pick on 6-foot-2 scoring guard Marcus Sasser.

    The Celtics then flipped the No. 31 overall pick to Charlotte for picks No. 34 and No. 39. Charlotte used that pick on center James Nnaji. The 6-foot-11 Nnaji, who hails from Nigeria, plays for Spain’s FC Barcelona.

    With the No. 34 overall pick, Stevens & Co. appeared to make their first pick of the evening with the selection of Xavier’s Colby Jones. That pick appeared to be a hit, too, as the 6-foot-6 Jones averaged almost 15 points per game and shot 37 percent from deep in 2022-23. But it was almost immediately revealed that Jones was on his way to Sacramento in exchange for the No. 38 overall pick and a future second-round selection.

    Back on the clock, and with back-to-back picks at No. 38 and No. 39, the Celtics selected (and kept) Walsh at No. 38 and drafted Washington State’s Mouhamed Gueye at No. 39. A 6-foot-10 forward lauded for his agility for a player his size according to almost every scouting report, Gueye was immediately flipped to the Hawks for a future second-round pick.

    Like I said… face-melting speed kind of trading here.

  • DES MOINES, IOWA - MARCH 18: Jordan Walsh #13 of the Arkansas Razorbacks reacts after defeating the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 18, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    DES MOINES, IOWA – MARCH 18: Jordan Walsh #13 of the Arkansas Razorbacks reacts after defeating the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

  • Additionally, the selection of the Texas-born Walsh makes him the first prospect on the freshly-planted (and immediately- convoluted) Marcus Smart trade tree.

    The Celtics also obtained a 2024 first-round pick (that pick originally belonging to the Golden State Warriors) in the deal that sent Smart to the Grizzlies and brought Porzingis to the Celtics. Should that pick stay with Boston between now and the 2024 NBA Draft, the Celtics can almost assume that they’ll be picking in a similar spot to the one they were supposed to this year, as the Warriors clearly intend to contend in 2023-24 following their acquisition of Chris Paul from Washington.

    And for those of you out there hoping for a repeat of what happened when the Celtics acquired all those Brooklyn first-round picks, it’s worth mentioning that the 2024 first-round pick from Golden State is also a top-four protected pick.

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