Celtics' Top Draft Needs Ahead of 2021-22 NBA Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 1, 2021

Celtics' Top Draft Needs Ahead of 2021-22 NBA Season

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    NBA draft picks aren't always paths to prospects.

    The Boston Celtics just spent one to clean up their future finances, sacrificing the No. 16 selection in the trade that sent Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder and brought Al Horford back to Boston.

    With their economic situation improved, the Shamrocks can shift their attention to finding a prospect with the 45th overall pick. That's far from a given, but it's possible. Lou Williams, Goran Dragic and Dillon Brooks are among the players pulled from this spot.

    Let's examine three areas Boston could target on draft night.


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    Ethan Hyman/Associated Press

    Every team in today's NBA needs more shooting. That means finding it in the middle of the second round won't be easy.

    The top-tier snipers will be off the board, so the Celtics may need to get creative.

    In a best-case scenario, the Shamrocks could stop the skid of Virginia stretch big Trey Murphy III. But that might be too optimistic to come to fruition. If teams outside of Boston are buying him as a 6'9" sharpshooter and versatile defender, he isn't getting to No. 45. He may not make it out of the first round.

    Iowa's Joe Wieskamp could be on the radar after closing the combine with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six three-pointers. But he could be a defensive liability and doesn't have a lot of off-the-dribble wiggle. Providence's David Duke just cleared 38 percent from three for the second consecutive season. But he also shot 38 percent from two-point range and posted a 39.4 field-goal percentage across his three seasons with the Friars.

    They aren't perfect prospects, but perfect prospects don't reach this point of the draft.


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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    The Celtics weren't a particularly good passing team this past season, and that's being as polite as possible.

    Boston landed 27th in assist percentage and 22nd in assist-to-turnover ratio. The loss of Kemba Walker, who averaged 4.9 assists against just 2.0 turnovers, probably isn't helping those numbers.

    Maybe a second-round rookie won't help, either, but a few distributors can try.

    Daishen Nix of the G League Ignite makes quick reads and quicker passes. Louisville's David Johnson has good size for the lead guard spot (6'5") and always looks to get his teammates involved. Ohio's Jason Preston is one of the best pure passers in the class.


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    Robert Franklin/Associated Press

    President of basketball operations Brad Stevens should remember something coach Brad Stevens learned last season. When the Celtics needed to reach into their bench, they didn't have enough players he could trust.

    Again, maybe that's not something you can bank on finding at this stage of the draft. Perhaps circling in on a specialist might do the trick.

    Alabama's Herb Jones is going to get after it defensively. He may never shoot with consistency and probably shouldn't create any of his own scoring chances, but he'll battle on defense and hold his own on up to five positions.

    Oral Roberts' Max Abmas is going to fill it up when he hits the hardwood. He paced the country with 24.6 points per game and posted a pristine 47.8/43.3/89.0 shooting slash. He doesn't have size (6'1", 165 lbs) and isn't much of a ball mover, but if you need points, he can probably find them.

    A prospect like this may never grow out of his niche, but he can execute a role. The Celtics didn't have enough players who could do that this season.