WALTHAM, Mass. — The Boston Celtics owned two of the top 17 picks in the 2014 NBA draft.
This year, they have just one selection in the top 17 but another three in the bottom 43.
The size and scope of Boston’s 2015 draft haul (the 16th, 28th, 33rd and 45th picks, to be exact) means the Celtics’ war room will be a very busy place over the next month.
“We do have four picks,” Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said Wednesday. “We’ve got to look at a lot of guys.”
How many? Ainge estimates that between the NBA draft combine, team workouts and those organized by agents, the C’s will evaluate close to 100 U.S.-based prospects, plus another 60 or so international ones at the NBA’s Eurocamp in Italy. The team hosted six draft hopefuls Wednesday at its practice facility, and five additional workouts are scheduled between this week and next.
The absence of a lottery pick means most of the elite prospects won’t be making their way here — unlike last spring, when blue-chippers like Julius Randle and eventual Celtics pick Marcus Smart worked out for coach Brad Stevens and the Boston brass.
Visiting all 30 NBA teams is out of the question for even the most ambitious draft hopefuls, meaning clubs are at the mercy of agents, who typically restrict a client’s workouts to teams in his draft range.
“It’s hard,” Ainge said. “When I call an agent and say, ‘We’d like to have your guy in,’ and they say, ‘You’re not in our range,’ and I say, ‘We’ll move up’ — we all tell them we’re going to move up. They’ve heard that line before. I do think there is some more credibility with us having four picks, but it takes two to trade. We can’t force that on anyone else, nor is it always smart. The (New England) Patriots have done very well doing the opposite and moving back.”
Trading up in this draft does appear to be a real possibility for the Celtics, however, as they certainly possess both the resources and the willingness to do so. Trade talks typically don’t heat up until draft night approaches and teams have had the opportunity to identify their preferred prospects, but the C’s plan to be right in the thick of them.
“One thing no one’s ever accused us of is being afraid to make calls,” Ainge said, “so we definitely will talk to a lot of teams. But these are things we’ll get a sense of. If a team has any desire, it’s pretty easy to figure out. They usually answer that pretty honestly. People speak more honestly about a pick than players they have, because I guess it’s an inanimate object, right? It’s not anything they’re attached to.”
While negotiations surely will come in the time between now and June 25, the Celtics currently are focused on talent evaluation — identifying from a pool of 100-plus players which ones would fit best on a young team looking to make the next step toward championship contention.
“The draft is hard,” Ainge said. “I liken it to, we all know 18-year-old kids going into college. We think we know them, and we don’t really know that kind of grades they’re going to get, what friends they’re going to make. You take those same kids and give them millions of dollars, and we don’t know what they’re going to do. We try to do the best we can, and that’s why we have a lot of picks, because it’ll help the odds a little bit.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images