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NBA Draft 2012: Boston Celtics Must Move into Lottery to Retool Team

BOSTON - JUNE 17:  Head coach Doc Rivers and Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Six of the 2008 NBA Finals on June 17, 2008 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Luis BatlleContributor IJune 28, 2012

Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics would do themselves a favor by moving up for a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

According to Yahoo! Sports and NBC Sports Network NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics are trying to get into the late lottery or even higher prior to to the NBA draft.

Boston is aggressively working to move up into the late lottery, if not higher, league sources tell Y!. Celtics own No. 21 and 22 picks.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 28, 2012

The Celtics boast both the No. 21 and 22 picks in the draft, two selections that could be used as trade bait to move into the top 15 or even the top 10. Trading away both picks would allow the Celtics to avoid using All-Star talents like Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce in a deal.

Here are three reasons why the Celtics must go after a higher selection in this year's draft.

 

Undeniably Talented Prospects at Center

Last season, Kevin Garnett was forced to play the center position for the first time in his career because the team was that thin at the position. With the exception of Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins taking some minutes here and there, it was KG's spot.

The Celtics had their fair share of success with the lineup, yet there is no question the Miami Heat were able to capitalize on the small-ball play in the postseason.

It will take trading both the No. 21 and 22 picks to get a top-notch center, but that is exactly what this team has to do.

Inside the top 15, the Celtics could grab talents like North Carolina's Tyler Zeller (9.6 rebounds per game), Meyers Leonard (8.2 RPG) or even a bigger power forward like Perry Jones (7.6 RPG). Each of the three is a top-notch rebounding threat that boasts solid defensive play, which is exactly what the Celtics need at the position.

Not to mention, all three can finish at the basket, an area where Hollins and Stiemsma have shown significant inconsistency. Leonard shot 58.4 percent last season, Zeller scored 16.3 points per game and Jones was the go-to guy offensively for the Baylor Bears.

Moving up in the draft could mean big things for the Celtics rotation by boosting the talent at the center spot.

 

Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green Need a Big for the Future

When it comes to the guard and swingman positions, the Celtics have no worries. If the Celtics go ahead and re-sign small forward Jeff Green, they have starters set at PG, SG and SF for the future with Rondo, Bradley and Green, respectively.

Yet with an inconsistent Stiemsma, an unproven player in Hollins and an older Garnett, there is a dire need for this team to grab a big man in this draft. Although the team could grab talent with the No. 21 and 22 picks, the talent is significantly greater inside the top 15. 

It would allow the team to have young talent at each position, which is exactly what Ainge has to consider in rebuilding the team for the post-Big Three era.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 18: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics comforts teammate Avery Bradley #0 as he winces in pain during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Well
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

 

Give the Big Three One Last Shot at an NBA Championship

In spite of the talk surrounding the potential breakup of the Big Three, it is clear we understand that this team was up 3-2 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

It may be true that the entire Big Three won't be back. According to ESPNBoston.com, there is mutual interest between Ray Allen and the Heat. Yet giving up Allen does not end title hopes for the Celtics. In fact, the team gives up a player who was close to ineffective in the postseason and was making approximately $10 million last season. 

With the extra money and the potential to move up in the draft, there is no question the Celtics must attempt to get into the top 15. If the Celtics can re-sign Garnett, Green and Brandon Bass and grab a center in the draft that can be effective immediately, the Celtics will be that much more complete.

Make no mistake about it—with a lottery selection as well as Garnett, Pierce and Rondo potentially all returning, the Celtics could still be in championship contention next season.

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