As the Boston Celtics near the midway point of the 2018-19 NBA season, the focus remains on whether Brad Stevens and Co. can right the ship and reach their championship potential.
But there’s another (and perhaps even more important) storyline brewing under the surface.
The Celtics could hold as many as four first-round picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. If you’ve followed Danny Ainge’s rampant asset-collecting over the years, then you know the specifics surrounding the pics are somewhat confusing.
So here’s the Skinny:
— Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers’ first-rounder (better of the two, top-one protected)
— Memphis Grizzlies’ first-rounder (top-eight protected this year, top six in 2020 and unprotected in 2021).
— Los Angeles Clippers’ first-rounder (top-14 protected this year and in 2020 — if not conveyed by 2020, then Boston receives second-rounder in 2022).
— Celtics own first-rounder.
For clarity: The “protected” stipulation means the Celtics can’t own that pick if it falls within the specified range. So, if the Grizzlies were to fall in the top eight of this year’s draft, the pick would move to next year. If the pick is ninth or lower, then Boston gets it this year. If the Memphis pick moves to 2020 but falls in the top six, it would be unprotected in 2021, meaning the Celtics could draft as high as No. 1 overall.
A few weeks ago, Boston’s assets weren’t looking nearly as promising as many hoped entering the season. If the draft was held Dec. 14, the Celtics would’ve held Sacramento’s pick at No. 19, Memphis’ at No. 20, Los Angeles’ at No. 21 and their own at No. 23. That wasn’t a good scenario, whether you’re talking about packaging picks for Anthony Davis or keeping them to draft young, elite talent.
But things have changed since then. The Grizzlies have played miserable basketball, and the still-surprising Kings have come down to Earth. Boston now would own Memphis’ pick at No. 9 and Sacramento’s at No. 14.
Now, you could make the case that Boston would rather the Grizzlies keep their pick this year, as the potential for the pick to be unprotected in two years might be more alluring to the New Orleans Pelicans, should they elect to move Davis. As for the Kings’ pick, it’s for this year and this year only, so Boston wants it to be as high as possible.
You got all that? Good.
But if you don’t, NESN.com’s Dakota Randall and Josh Schrock talked Boston’s draft assets, the Davis rumors and the Celtics’ recent play in Tuesday’s edition of the “NESN Celtics Podcast.”
Click the link in the tweet to below to listen to this week’s episode:
Ultimately, Boston needs its draft assets to be as intriguing as possible, and for players like Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier to find their previous form. If they don’t, the Celtics might be forced to include Tatum in a potential deal for Davis — a scenario Ainge likely would prefer to avoid.
Then again, if the conclusion to the Celtics’ years of asset-building is a “Big Three” of Davis, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, then we doubt Green Teamers will have any complaints.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images