The Boston Celtics are at an interesting crossroads for the franchise. Last season the Celtics were pegged as the favorites to come out the Eastern Conference and even take down the Warriors. However, their season was filled with on-court strife and off the court distractions.
Kyrie Irving’s looming free agency and inability to mesh with the young Boston core, which a year ago, got all the way to the ECF without Irving was a recipe for disaster. After a disappointing second round exit Kyrie and Al Horford are as good as gone and Terry Rozier might be gone as well. Thursday night Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge proved why he’s still one of the best GMs in the league.
Thursday’s NBA Draft was filled with trades galore. If you followed NBA insiders such as Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania your twitter notifications were going off every 5 minutes. The Celtics to no surprise were right in the middle of all the chaos. First, the Celtics selected shooting guard Romeo Langford with the No. 14 pick.
The Indiana native spent one year with the Indiana Hoosiers before declaring for the draft. At 6-6 and 215lbs, Langford has an NBA ready body. He led the Hoosiers in scoring last season at 16.5 points per game and led the Big Ten in scoring for freshmen. Some saw Langford at 14 as a slight reach. He’s a streaky scorer and doesn’t have the best jump shot, however with Boston potentially losing 2 guards this offseason it doesn’t hurt to add depth.
Then the trading was on. The Celtics drafted Washington forward Mattise Thybulle but traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers for the 24th and 33rd pick. Philly was said to have wanted Thybulle and the Celtics apparently caught wind of this. Thus drafting the 6-5 wing and sending him to the Sixers for two additional picks.
Then the crafty Ainge sent that 24th pick and Aaron Baynes to the Phoenix Suns. In return they received Milwaukee Bucks’ 2020 first round pick. That 24th pick turned into Virginia’s Ty Jerome. Baynes had just opted into his player option earlier this week worth $5.9 million. Sending away the pick and Baynes cleared up some desperately needed cap room. Their max cap room now is around $34.8 million not including the Rozier cap hold.
Next on the docket was the Celtics’ second pick in the first round which was Grant Williams. The 6-7 forward out of Tennessee was a first-team All-American and was SEC Player of the Year his sophomore and junior year. His height makes him a little undersized at the four position in the NBA but his size and girth more than makeup for it. Offensively Williams did most of his damage in the paint. Because of his size, he was able to bully a lot of defenders around the rim.
This will not be the case once he gets to the league. He won’t have to be the focus of the offense with scorers like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on the roster but he will have to develop a more consistent mid-range shot. Until then he'll be doing a lot of the dirty work inside on the glass or setting brick wall screens. A fun quip about Williams is that his mom is an engineer for NASA and in an interview, he basically debunked Kyrie Irving's “flat-earth” theory.
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) June 21, 2019
That 33rd pick sent from the Sixers turned into guard Carsen Edwards from Purdue. Carsen became a well-known name during the NCAA tournament for Boilermakers. His shooting ability, especially from the perimeter had people drawing comparisons to Trae Young and Steph Curry. He dropped 42 points twice in the tournament. One of them coming in a loss to the eventual national champion Virginia Cavaliers. Along with the 42 points against Virginia, he also shot 10-19 from three-point range. He was just the fourth player in history to hit 10-plus treys in a tournament game. The similarities to Curry and Young go beyond just the scoring ability.
He’s 6-1 and about 200-lbs putting him in the range of some of the smaller guards in the league. If Edwards is anything like his comparisons then Danny Ainge may have gotten one of the biggest steals in the draft. The Edwards pick is great on multiple levels. For one he serves as a security pick in the event Terry Rozier doesn’t return. His shooting ability would help spread the floor and give guys like Tatum more room to operate on the wing. If Rozier does return then Edwards will provide good scoring off the bench and could pair nicely with Langford.
The theme of the night for the Celtics was clearly guards as they picked LSU guard Tremont Waters with the 51st pick. Carsen Edwards is small but Waters is smaller. Waters measures in at about 5-11 and 172lbs but uses his small stature to his advantage. He’s fearless, shifty and has some pretty good handles. In two years at LSU, he averaged about 15 points and 6 dimes per game. Waters most likely won't make the roster come October but don't be surprised if Boston keeps for their G-League. It's a low-risk pick for the Celtics who are looking to retool their roster instead of rebuilding it.
Although the team could take some blows during free agency Celtics fans should be pleased with the job Ainge did in this draft. He not only acquired depth at guard but also cleared cap space and filled the void in the frontcourt. Boston sneakily could have one of the better young cores in the league after this draft.