The Boston Celtics made noise last week before the 2023 NBA Draft, trading Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies and acquiring Kristaps Porzingis from the Washington Wizards as part of a three-team blockbuster.
The deal had near-immediate implications, too, as the Celtics traded away a second-round pick (No. 35) and landed a first-round pick (No. 25) in this year’s draft as well as a first-round pick (top-four protected) in next year’s draft.
Amazingly, that was just the beginning for Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, who moved down the board like Bill Belichick, accumulating future assets in addition to selecting Arkansas wing Jordan Walsh with the 38th overall pick.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton graded each team after the 2023 NBA Draft and handed the Celtics a “B+” for all their maneuvering.
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“A flow chart is necessary to trace the Celtics’ series of four trades down from the 25th pick, acquired from the Grizzlies in Wednesday’s three-team trade that landed Kristaps Porzingis in Boston, to ultimately taking Walsh 38th and adding future second-rounders from three different teams (Atlanta, Detroit and Sacramento),” Pelton wrote on ESPN.com. “Those picks could help the Celtics as sweeteners in future trades, while I like the value for Walsh, who ranked 22nd in my stats-based projections.”
There’s reason to be optimistic about Boston’s draft-day wheeling and dealing, which netted the Celtics an NBA-ready defender and extra ammunition to use in the trade market. Walsh alone could make the draft a win for Stevens and company.
Sure, we might not know the true impact for several years, and emotions in Boston undoubtedly are mixed with Smart departing after nine seasons with the organization. But Stevens’ work in the margins, after the Smart-Porzingis swap, shouldn’t be overlooked as the Celtics look to build the strongest supporting cast possible around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Featured image via Steve Roberts/USA TODAY Sports Images