BOSTON — For basketball fans in Boston, the NBA draft is a sneaky affair for everyone. Instead of relying on future first-round picks, the Celtics are enjoying the benefits of all past first-round picks, and they’ve lived up to their potential on the floor.
With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and his teammates leading the Celtics to the NBA Finals — a game that ended just a week ago — the NBA draft is almost an afterthought in Boston. Combine that with the fact that Brad Stevens has traded away the team’s first-round pick in each of the past two years, and there’s really not much to hype.
Stevens traded away Boston’s first-round pick in the 2021 draft to bring back Al Horford (and get the Kemba Walker trade off the books), who he traded with the Spurs for Derrick White with Ball The team’s 2022 first-round pick parted ways. trade deadline. So what do the Celtics need to do on draft night?
There was only one pick: the 53rd pick in the second round. That’s not going to get anyone excited to stop them Thursday night.
With a solid core of Tatum, Brown, Robert Williams and Marcus Smart, the Celtics really don’t need more young players. The back-up roles of Grant Williams and Peyton Pritchard are still evolving, while Aaron Nesmith continues to try to create his own. Boston will be looking to add some strong shooting and playmaking off the bench this offseason as the team is just two wins away from a championship. Rookies — especially second-round picks — are usually not a good fit for any team.
If Stevens even makes his pick on Thursday night, he might consider adding a project pick at No. 53. Here are a handful of players that mock drafters believe could be a good fit for the Celtics as the only draft picks for the 2022 NBA:
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated: Tyrese Martin, G/F, UConn
After starting his college career at URI, the 6-foot-6 Martin spent his final two years at the University of Connecticut. As a senior for the Huskies, he averaged a career-high 13.6 points on 45 percent shooting and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Sam Vecenie, Athlete: Jared Rhoden, G, Seton Hall
Roden, also 6-foot-6, played four years at Seton Hall, averaging 10.4 points and 5.5 rebounds during his college career. As a senior, he averaged 15.5 points and shot 39 percent from the field.
ESPN Jonathan Givony: Gabriele Procida, G, Italy
The 20-year-old averaged 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 38.3 percent from 3-point range for Bologna last season in Italy.
Kristin Peake of Yahoo Sports: Colin Gillespie, G, Villanova
Gillespie, who spent five years as the floor general for Jay Wright at Villanova, took advantage of an extra year of player eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He averaged 15.6 points and 3.1 assists per game in 2022, was named the Big East Player of the Year, and won the Bob Cousy Award for Best Point Guard in College Basketball.
Brian Kalbrowski, USA TODAY: Ron Harper Jr., Wing, Rutgers
Harper Jr. played four years at Rutgers and started 109 of his 121 college careers. He shot 44 percent from the field overall and 40 percent from 3-point range with the Scarlett Cavaliers, averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. He’s putting up 15.8 points per game and earning Big 10 Second Team honors in 2022.
He is the son of Ron Harper, who won five NBA championships (three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the Los Angeles Lakers) during his career.
NBA Draft Network: Michael Foster, PF, G League
Foster is the 2021 McDonald’s All-American and a five-star recruit at Arizona Prep, initially set to go to Arizona State. But he dropped out and instead joined the G League, where he played for Ignite. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 30.5 minutes per game for Ignite.
Foster is only 19 years old and appears to have a ton of talent, but it will take some getting used to a lower-level season.