3 Players Celtics Should Target in the Draft

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IINovember 16, 2020

3 Players Celtics Should Target in the Draft

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    When the NBA draft gets underway on Wednesday, the Boston Celtics will have three picks in the first round: Nos. 14, 26 and 30. 

    Their already-strong roster reached the Eastern Conference Finals this year, with rookies Grant Williams, Romeo Langford and Robert Williams adding to the experience of Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Kemba Walker.

    With that in mind, there have been rumblings about the team trading its top picks to either move up in the draft or receive "a solid veteran," per ESPN's Zach Lowe.

    But when the time comes for the Celtics to select from the talent pool, who should they target?

    Here's a look at three players who could help Boston win its first title since 2008 following three Eastern Conference Finals losses in four seasons. 

RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers

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    Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

    Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported that "no one is biting" on the Celtics' offers of first-round picks in an effort to move up, and he pegged them to take RJ Hampton at No. 14.

    The 19-year-old spent 2020 with the New Zealand Breakers, where he averaged 8.8 points and 2.4 assists per game.

    Chris Grenham of Forbes noted that the team enjoyed their interview with the 6'5", 188-pounder and were looking to schedule a workout with him.

    While Hampton's career in New Zealand wasn't jaw-dropping, the Celtics have the time and resources to develop him while still working toward their goal of a title now.

    The Dallas native was ranked in the top five in his class out of high school, but after he opted to play in the National Basketball League and struggled for consistent form, he has dropped on draft boards.

    Hampton isn't worried, though, per Grenham: "I'm very confident. The reason I think my game is going to translate well to the next level is because I'm versatile. I can do a lot of things. I can get to the basket, I can hit the pull-up, I can get my teammates involved with my speed—so that's something I really look forward to coming into my first season."

    O'Connor noted Hampton's "explosiveness" on layups and his flashes of ability to become a playmaker, making him a solid option for Boston, particularly if Hayward were to pursue a contract elsewhere.

    The Celtics appear to be showing interest in him publicly as well, after tweeting a clip of his statistics on Nov. 5. 

Saddiq Bey, SG/SF, Villanova

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    Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

    The winner of the Julius Erving Award as the NCAA's best small forward, Saddiq Bey is ready to contribute in an area where the Celtics are lacking.

    As a sophomore at Villanova last season, Bey shot 42.6 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Boston's bench posted a seventh-worst 32.6 shooting percentage, while its 2.3 three-pointers from 7.2 attempts was at the bottom of the league.

    The 6'8" wing will turn 22 in April, and with an extra year of experience at the collegiate level, he factors in as one of the most league-ready players in the draft pool this year. That bodes well for him as a Celtic, as the team needs contributions off of the bench immediately if it's going to claim an NBA title.

    Bey also has the potential to develop into a solid two-way player, with O'Connor noting his versatility as a major plus point.

    "In the NBA, my goal is to try and be as versatile as possible and complete a player as I can possibly be," Bey said, per NBA.com's Chris Dortch. "Whatever the team needs from me, I feel comfortable I'll be able to provide it. That's a tribute to how we develop at Villanova."

    Bey, who is projected by O'Connor to be off of the board at No. 16 to the Portland Trail Blazers, is a pick that makes sense for the Celtics based on his ability to contribute immediately on both sides of the ball. 

Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    The Celtics have continued to make it deep into the postseason without a big-name center, instead looking to Daniel Theis to serve in that role.

    While the NBA has been trending away from the traditional center for some time, it's possible that a lack of a center rotation is what's holding Boston back.

    That's where Isaiah Stewart could help out. 

    In his only season with the Washington Huskies, the 6'9", 250-pounder posted 17 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in addition to a 77.4 percent free-throw percentage through 32 games.

    Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that the Celtics have shown interest in Stewart, as have the New York Knicks. The Knicks select eighth and 27th on Wednesday. 

    For a Boston team that showed strength off the glass, posting an eighth-best rebounds per game average of 46.1, its ability to take back the ball off of the bench was lacking, with 15.7 to rank 19th.

    Stewart wants to develop as a shooter and highlighted Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat as an inspiration, per Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype

    "I watch a guy like Bam Adebayo who makes a lot of great passes in the short roll. He has a great IQ. I see how he is able to impact the game in that way. He is patient and he can read the defense and he doesn’t get sped up. The past college season, I was double-teamed and triple-teamed a lot. I needed to learn how to make better reads out of the high post."

    Ranked as the No. 27 prospect by ESPN, Stewart is a logical pick for Boston with one of their later first-round selections in an effort to find the missing piece that has prevented them from winning a title. 

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