Young Prospects the Boston Celtics Should Target in Trade Market
The 2013-14 Boston Celtics are made up of overpaid veterans, solid role players, young talent and one hobbled superstar. In other words, they're rebuilding.
To gradually improve as an organization, the best plan of attack is first shedding the overpaid veterans and solid role players for some draft picks and younger, cheaper talent.
The Celtics already have a boatload of draft picks, but they could stand to acquire more pieces still in the early stages of development. Guys in their early 20s who possess serious potential and will hopefully blossom at the same time the franchise is ready to contend again.
Here are six players Boston should target on the trade market this season. Nearly all are still on their rookie scale contracts (and will be there for quite a bit of time), and could be brought along in a more conducive environment with Brad Stevens and the Celtics.
They're ranked by how productive their careers have already been and how good they are today.
6. Otto Porter
Yet to make his NBA debut, Otto Porter is an unknown commodity. Will he fit into the Wizards’ thin rotation, miraculously improve their bench and eventually make the fan base forget that Trevor Ariza is shooting the ball like Ray Allen? Or will he be the next Jan Vesely?
Washington wants to win now, and they’ve already proven it by shipping their 2014 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat. But what’s to stop them from digging deeper into their shortsighted “make the playoffs or everybody’s fired” mantra?
Porter projects to be a small forward in the NBA, and the team he plays for needs help at that very position. Ironically, Porter isn’t ready to contribute right now, but also stands as the only attractive, tradable asset Washington has left to offer.
The Celtics have the possible answer on their roster in Jeff Green, making a deal here worth discussion.
5. Terrence Ross
Playing in somewhat of a lessened role compared to his rookie season, Terrence Ross is slowly becoming more and more efficient, improving his True Shooting percentage while making a habit of getting to the line.
He’s used as a spot up shooter because he can’t do anything else yet. According to mySynergySports, Ross has turned the ball over 25 percent of the time when running a pick-and-roll this season. Atrocious.
To be fair, he’s still very young and playing on a team with two similarly built high volume shooters who consume minutes like a vacuum cleaner with no off button.
The Raptors would prefer to move Rudy Gay or DeMar DeRozan before Ross, but both carry warts that make them untradable in the type of deal Boston would like to conduct. They’re expensive, while Ross is on his rookie scale contract and only 22 years old.
4. John Henson
While Larry Sanders is sidelined with a bad temper and an aching hand, John Henson has spent his sophomore season taking advantage of an increased role with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite only starting four games, he’s currently third in the league in block percentage, swatting away 7.1 percent of all available attempts when on the floor.
Offensively, he’s been efficient (shooting 51.4 percent with an above-average PER) but has yet to show any consistent comfort with his back to the basket. His spaghetti-string arms and quick left-handed touch offer potential for improvement, though.
Henson has also been better as a passer, doubling his assist rate from last season and lowering his turnover percentage.
He turns 23 at the end of December and has plenty room to grow as a long-term, rim-protecting presence. Milwaukee already has one of those, though, so it’s conceivable they’d be willing to part with the one who wasn’t just given a $44 million extension in exchange for immediate help and/or a draft pick.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Most No. 2 picks enter the league with high expectations and tantalizing potential. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is one of them, with an offensive skill set that’s slowly but surely coming around, and the type of defensive intuition that’s rare in someone so young.
For all the negative publicity attributed to his jump shot, Kidd-Gilchrist (still only 20 years old) is shooting 40 percent from the mid-range, according to NBA.com/Stats. (Granted, nearly all of his 35 attempts were uncontested and viewed by the defense as Christmas come early, but he still knocked in 14 of them. It should also be noted that he hasn’t dared venture out to the three-point line yet.)
Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t drafted because he could shoot. His projected role in the NBA is as a supreme wing defender, and it’s here where scouts should have a reason to smile. He’s an asset with great size and length who can hold his own against some of the league’s best perimeter threats, and he has already matched up quite well with the likes of Paul George and LeBron James.
The reason Charlotte might be willing to part with their former lottery pick not even two seasons into his career is simple. This is a team that should be looking to maximize Al Jefferson’s tenure, and if the opportunity strikes to acquire a more solidified offensive wing presence, they’ll ponder grabbing him.
The Celtics would be interested in a player like this for obvious reasons. Most importantly: time is on their side. They’re in no rush to be good soon, and taking a calculated gamble on a prospect like Kidd-Gilchrist (who’s at the beginning of a rookie scale contract that only has one more year of guaranteed money on it) is perfectly acceptable.
If the Bobcats were interested in speeding up their own team-building process, packaging Kidd-Gilchrist for someone like Jeff Green would be in their best interest.
2. Dion Waiters
Dion Waiters has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. Reports of locker room shenanigans have given birth to incessant trade rumors, and when you look at Cleveland’s increasingly dire situation, most of them may as well be true.
But Waiters, the basketball player, has real NBA talent, and any team that trades for him should be pleased with their return so long as he’s in the right role.
The Cavaliers score 7.5 more points per 100 possessions when Waiters is on the floor. (They score 2.3 more points per 100 possessions when Kyrie Irving is on the floor, though it should be stated Irving has played over 150 more minutes and Cleveland’s offense is disgusting).
The Celtics would love to have a secondary ball-handler who can come off the bench and play beside Rajon Rondo when their offense needs a boost.
Waiters can “snake” the pick-and-roll, drawing his screener’s man out to the center of the floor with his dribble and forcing a switch. When isolated on a defender, he can create space and get his own shot just about any time he wants.
But Waiters is a poor defender, especially in transition, (Cleveland’s defense allows 4.6 fewer points per 100 possession when Waiters is on the bench), and still has a below-average PER.
He isn’t flawless, but few 21-year-olds are.
1. Gordon Hayward
Hayward is the best player of the bunch, and despite being on a rookie scale contract set to expire this summer (making him eligible for a big payday in restricted free agency), the Celtics would have to part with at least one high draft pick in order to acquire him.
His efficiency numbers aren’t spectacular this season, (he has a below-average PER and is shooting 40.1 percent from the floor), but that’s more an indictment on Utah’s overall lack of surrounding talent than Hayward’s development. He’s improving in the pick-and-roll, has an assist rate that’s up eight percent from last year and has become a better rebounder.
Only 23 years old, Hayward may have All-Star potential, and surrounding him with more competent players in a reliable system should significantly boost the dire shooting splits.
The Celtics obviously have that Brad Stevens/Butler connection going for them here, but Hayward’s worth targeting even if Danny Ainge hired a coach who never met him. He can do a little bit of everything.
Michael Pina is a contributor at Red94, CelticsHub, The Classical, Bleacher Report, Sports On Earth and Boston Magazine. Follow him here.