Who The Boston Celtics Should Target In The 2018 NBA Draft

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Somehow, Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics still have a treasure trove of assets, even after adding Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving in the recent past. With that said, the 2018 NBA Draft is something of a hiatus for Boston’s ability to snatch elite-level prospects, as the Celtics have only their own No. 27 overall pick to work from on June 21.

Still, this is a roster that is overflowing with quality talent right now and, when Irving and Hayward return at full health, it is tough to nitpick what Brad Stevens will be deploying on a daily basis. The Celtics do, however, have some intriguing roster decisions in the near future, with Marcus Smart facing restricted free agency and Terry Rozier only one year away from hitting the market. Given the presence of Irving, Ainge’s choices will be interesting and the team’s positioning in the upcoming draft happens to coincide with the likelihood of a few quality guards being available.

In this space, we will run through a few reasonable candidates for the No. 27 pick, with an emphasis on de facto “replacements” for Smart and/or Rozier in the near future, knowing full well that the Celtics may simply bring the band back and allow this particular rookie to develop slowly.

  • Bruce Brown – SG/PG, Miami – Brown has been compared to Smart on many occasions and that makes this an easy parallel. At 6’5 with a 6’9 wingspan, he has the size to defend multiple positions and there is no reason to think he can’t become a passable shooter. Throw in some creation skills and you have a very suitable late first round pick.
  • Jalen Brunson – PG, Villanova – Unlike Brown (and a few guys on this list), Brunson is a pure point guard and, thus, this would make more sense if Rozier was dealt in the offseason. Regardless, Brunson might just be the best player available at No. 27 if he’s still on the board, as many see him as a top-20 prospect given his safety. He’s likely best as a high-end backup, low-end starter but, with Kyrie Irving on board, that is a perfectly fine outcome.
  • De’Anthony Melton – PG/SG, USC – Melton’s stock seems to be rising again after the combine, despite his absence from the floor this season. He is a tremendous defensive prospect at the point of attack and, like Brown, shooting is the big worry here. Melton may be gone by No. 27 but, if he isn’t, the value is tremendous.
  • Mitchell Robinson – C, High School – The lone non-guard on this list is Robinson, who combines big-time upside with something of a positional need for Boston. The Celtics are loaded with switchable, versatile pieces but Al Horford has played more at the 4 in recent days and Robinson is a hyper-athletic pure center prospect. There is risk in taking a player that never set foot on a college floor but the upside is worth it and Ainge has set things up to be able to reasonably take a swing.
  • Khyri Thomas – PG/SG, Creighton – Thomas is an awesome defensive prospect with a 6’10 wingspan and all kinds of upside as a result. He’s also a good three-point shooter already and, even without a ton of on-ball creation upside, Thomas would slot in as a perfect role player in the future alongside Boston’s stockpile of quality talent.