With the highly-anticipated NBA Draft just weeks away, the Boston Celtics are one of the teams that hold the most intrigue heading into draft night. Boston are in quite an envious position right now, as they have in their possession three first-round picks: No. 14 (via the Sacramento Kings), No. 20 (via the Los Angeles Clippers), and No. 22 (their own pick).
Following their disappointing end to the season, this is going to be an extremely important summer for team general manager Danny Ainge and the rest of the organization. They're in a bit of a limbo right now with their talisman, Kyrie Irving, looking like he's on his way out of Boston.
This puts even more emphasis on how the Celtics will perform in the draft, as this might just prove to be another summer of rebuilding for the team. The good news is that they will have three opportunities in the first round to improve their squad, and under the assumption that Ainge actually decides to use these picks instead of dealing them away prior to/during draft night, we've identified three potential targets which the team should consider using their 22nd pick on.
Given his ceiling, Oregon Ducks 7-foot-2 big man Bol Bol will be an absolute steal for the Celtics if he is somehow still available for the 22nd pick. His season was cut short due to a unusual injury, and this might be something that scares off some teams. If this is the case, then the C's should not longer think twice about scooping up the 19-year-old at No. 22.
Last season, Bol produced 21.0 points (on 56.1 percent shooting), 1.4 three-pointers, 9.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.8 steals, and 2.7 blocks in nine games for Oregon. While the sample size is small, there are some that have compared Bol's skill set to Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis. With his rather impressive outside shot and blocking ability, he certainly does have some unicorn potential about him.
Cornerstone big man Al Horford is at the twilight of his career, and a replacement will need to be established sooner rather than later. Bol could be the man for the job, as he does seem to have what it takes to be the team's big man of the future.
Kevin Porter Jr.
6-foot-6 USC guard Kevin Porter Jr. is another name that must be on the Celtics' radar at the 22nd pick. Sure, the 19-year-old has had problems off the court, and his behavior has been described by some as disruptive, but with his upside, this is definitely the type of gamble that Boston should be willing to take.
9.5 points (on 47.1 percent from the floor), 1.3 three-pointers, 4.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.5 blocks were Porter Jr.'s output last season, and based on what we've seen so far, it would not be surprising if he is able to come close to these numbers once he enters the NBA. Maturity issues aside, he does seem to have the tools to successfully transition his game at the highest level, and he could potentially be a great back up two-guard for the C's.
If at this point in the draft the Celtics end up searching for some help on the wing, then they should definitely have a long and hard look at Iowa State freshman Talen Horton-Tucker. At 6-foot-4, the 18-year-old is an undersized swingman, but his 7-foot-1 wingspan more than makes up for his height issue.
What Horton-Tucker brings to the table is his potentially outstanding defensive prowess. We all know that head coach Brad Stevens loves himself some defenders, so Horton-Tucker might just be the right man for Boston at the 22nd spot.
In 25 games for Iowa State last season, Horton-Tucler produced 11.8 points (on an unimpressive 40.6 percent shooting clip), 1.4 three-pointers, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks. The youngster still requires a lot of work (especially on his shot selection), but he does have the makings of a useful three-and-D type of player.
In truth, the Celtics will have a myriad of options for their No. 22 pick. There's going to be so much action between the start of the draft up until Boston is called to the podium for their 22nd pick, so there's really no telling what they will require at that point.
Nonetheless, the three players we've singled out above are guys that the Celtics will likely find extremely useful regardless of how the draft pans out. All three have the potential to excel in the NBA, and Boston's development system should work wonders for any of these promising talents.