The Boston Celtics reportedly are exploring trades involving the three first-round picks they own in the 2019 NBA Draft.
But there’s no guarantee Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will find a dance partner in the coming days, meaning we’re left to speculate on who Boston will choose if it keeps all three selections Thursday night.
ESPN.com published its latest mock draft Tuesday, with draft analyst Jonathan Givony basing his projections on the latest intel he’s gathered across the league. It should come as no surprise that Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett are projected to go first, second and third, respectively.
The Celtics own the 14th, 20th and 22nd selections, although Givony reported Tuesday that Boston is among the teams interested in potentially trading up to No. 4 to land Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland. (The fourth pick, of course, belongs to the New Orleans Pelicans thanks to them reportedly agreeing to trade Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.)
Here’s who Givony believes the Celtics will select if they stay put, along with his explanations:
No. 14 (via Sacramento Kings): Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky (6-foot-6, 192 pounds)
The Celtics could lose quite a bit of firepower in the backcourt with Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier off to free agency and neither player being a lock to return. That makes drafting a combo guard such as Herro — who can play pick-and-roll, make shots while set or on the move and bring competitiveness and feel — appealing here.
No. 20 (via Los Angeles Clippers): Bol Bol, C, Oregon (7-foot-3, 208 pounds)
General manager Danny Ainge has never been afraid to take a gamble on a risky prospect that other NBA teams decided to pass on due to injuries, character concerns or other reasons. Bol’s broken foot, skinny frame and the questions about his approach to the game have caused his stock to slip, but there is little doubt that his talent looked worthy of a top-10 pick before he got injured in December.
No. 22: Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State (6-foot-10, 256 pounds)
Kabengele made huge strides in his sophomore season, and he is on an impressive trajectory, considering his late-bloomer status. He was able to alleviate the concerns teams had about his medical outlook (he wore braces on both knees all season) by reportedly receiving a clean bill of health at the NBA combine.
The Celtics looked to bolster their front-court depth in last year’s draft when they selected Texas A&M big man Robert Williams 27th overall. Givony’s latest projections suggest the Celtics might go that route again this year, which would make sense given Boston’s current roster construction, although, again, a lot could change this offseason, especially with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving primed to leave in free agency.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images