The upcoming 2018 NBA Draft is filled with players who can make an impact on teams right away. Though the Boston Celtics will not be selecting from the lottery this year, the depth of this draft almost guarantees that they can land a player who will contribute to their ballclub for years to come.
Kyrie Irving, the team’s superstar point guard, has made his intentions clear that he will not be signing an extension with the Celtics and could become a free agent by next year. That uncertainty has President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge concerned that Irving may decide to move to another team when he hits free agency, leaving them with nothing to show for their trade efforts with the Cleveland Cavaliers last summer.
That means the Celtics will be looking for a point guard if they trade Irving before the season starts. This will make room for Terry Rozier to take over his place as a starter and opening up a roster spot for a backup.
But as any veteran of the draft will tell you, the talent in front of you surpasses the need that you have. If Ainge finds the best player at the 27th spot to be a point guard, he’ll grab that player without a second thought.
But if there’s a player who could do something special regardless of their need, then Ainge will likely take that player even if he is not a point guard.
Here are five NBA draft options for the Celtics with the 27th pick of the draft:
5. Jacob Evans, Cincinnati – Shooting Guard / Small Forward
2017-18 Collegiate averages: 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.3 steals, 37% 3-point FG
The Celtics have reportedly worked out Jacob Evans two times already and are quite intrigued by the Cincinnati swingman. He can shoot the ball from almost anywhere, but his best qualities shine on the defensive end. His 1.0 blocks and 1.3 steals are a testament to his tenacity as a defender. With a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Evans utilizes his physical gifts extremely well.
Offensively, he needs to be more aggressive in taking shots and be a bit more selfish. He could have easily scored more than the 13.0 points per game he averaged but was quite passive at times. In the pros, the Celtics will have to give him the confidence to shoot the ball when his opportunities come.
4. De’Anthony Melton, USC – Point Guard / Shooting Guard
2016-17 Collegiate averages: 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.9 steals
College basketball was robbed of an opportunity to see De’Anthony Melton play in his sophomore year due to the FBI’s investigation into the sport. Scouts, however, have seen enough of Melton to believe that he can contribute to a team at the next level.
Melton has terrific quickness and speed which is most evident in the open floor. He has a 6-foot-8 wingspan and plays excellent defense. Coach Brad Stevens will love this kid. As a guard, he’s a great rebounder for his size and is not afraid to mix it up inside.
He can score in a variety of ways and could be a better version of Marcus Smart, the player he will likely supplant should the Celtics find that Melton is even better than advertised.
3. Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech – Shooting Guard
2017-18 Collegiate averages: 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.8 steals
If you can shoot and play defense then you are likely to play in the league for a long time. Josh Okogie is such a player. He’s a 3-and-D wing who the Celtics can plug in as a regular part of the rotation. He has a 7-foot wingspan coupled with explosiveness and athleticism, making him a physical specimen worth a second look.
Okogie shot 38 percent from beyond the arc in his sophomore year and he will be counted on to make his shots when the ball is kicked out to him by the Celtics’ big men. He’s a better spot up shooter rather than create his own shots, but that’s an ability that he can develop once he’s in the league.
At 213 pounds, Okogie is a handful for opposing guards. He draws fouls frequently and can hit his free throws as well.
The Celtics should be pleased if they get Okogie in the draft.
2. Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State – Small Forward
2017-18 Collegiate averages: 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 blocks, 0.9 steals
It’s hard to figure out where Keita Bates-Diop will land in the draft with some placing him in the middle of the first round while others have him early in the second round. If Bates-Diop is still available when the Celtics turn is up, they shouldn’t hesitate to pick him up immediately.
He can shoot from anywhere and has great size for a small forward. Though many see him as a tweener, Bates-Diop will thrive in the league where tweeners are in vogue in the current NBA .
Like the other players in this list, he plays very good defense and should be even better once he plays for Stevens.
His offensive talents are underrated but that’s probably what happens when you play well defensively. He may very well be a better scorer in the pros than many realize. For the Celtics, he will add depth at the small forward position behind Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum.
1. Jerome Robinson, Boston College – Shooting Guard
2017-18 Collegiate averages: 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists
One of the most talented scorers in the draft, Jerome Robinson shot 40.9 percent from outside the 3-point line in his last season in college. The junior guard is an excellent shooter and ball handler, capable of creating shots off the dribble.
His field goal percentage of 48.5 percent shows that he rarely takes bad shots, a quality that is rare for young guys especially perimeter players. He can score inside and make his free throws when fouled but needs to add strength when he gets to the pros. It’s easy to see Celtics fans fall in love with this kid notwithstanding the fact that he played for Boston College.
Robinson is an exciting player, making it difficult to keep him on the bench when he gets on a hot streak. The Celtics major concern would be whether he will be available to draft at all. Some mock drafts have him in the middle of the first-round, but others believe he will be a late first-round pick.
Regardless, Robinson is going to be an excellent pick up for the Celtics as the 27th pick in the draft if he’s still there.