The Boston Celtics didn’t slide back in the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery, which they’ve done in the past. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t move up, either.
Boston will pick third in June’s draft, unless it tries to trade the pick in a package for an established star in his prime such as Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls or Paul George of the Indiana Pacers.
If the Celtics keep the No. 3 selection, which players should they target? Here’s a list of the top three players team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge should consider:
Stats: 25 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2 apg
Hield stayed at Oklahoma for four years, making him a more mature and polished player than many of the top 10 prospects in this draft class.
He enjoyed a fantastic senior season, leading the Sooners to the Final Four while setting career highs in points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game. He also set personal bests with a .501 field goal percentage and a 45.7 percent success rate from 3-point land.
Hield is a good ball-handler, is able to score by driving to the rim or shooting from deep (the Celtics need more outside shooting) and is not a liability defensively.
The only issue is the Celtics already are loaded with guards. Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley all need to play significant minutes to be effective. Hield is without question the best fit for a team that’s ready to take the next step and compete for a conference title, which the Celtics hope to do next season.
Stats: 16.4, 5.3 rpg, 6.2 apg
The Celtics, as noted above, have way too many guards on their current roster. Therefore, selecting Dunn might be best if a team below the Celtics really wants a potential franchise point guard and is willing to acquire the Providence star in exchange for a veteran who could help the C’s right now.
Dunn is an excellent defender, using his superior athleticism and size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) to stay with quick guards and overpower weaker ones. He’s not an elite scorer, but his playmaking skills are very good. Dunn is a fantastic passer and consistently makes the right decisions in transition.
Stats: 20 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.2 apg
Murray is a raw talent at just 19 years old and probably wouldn’t help the Celtics in a major way next season, but his upside is quite high. He’s an excellent long-distance shooter, which would help the Celtics stretch the floor for penetrating guards such as Thomas.
Murray also is capable of playing both guard positions, giving Celtics head coach Brad Stevens some valuable lineup versatility.
There’s no question from an offensive standpoint Murray is ready for the NBA. He has the size and athleticism needed to take on pro-level players, whether it’s driving to the basket or coming off a screen for an open outside shot.
Murray isn’t a bad defensive player, but it’s also not one of his strengths, at least not at this stage of his development.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images