Celtics' Top Targets at Pick No. 45 in 2021 NBA Draft

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 22, 2021

Celtics' Top Targets at Pick No. 45 in 2021 NBA Draft

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    Garett Fisbeck/Associated Press

    Barring a trade, the Boston Celtics will only get one crack at the upcoming 2021 NBA draft.

    After sacrificing their first-round pick in the trade that sent Kemba Walker out and brought Al Horford back, the Celtics have just the No. 45 pick at their disposal.

    They don't quite need a miracle to pluck a rotation player out of that spot, but their scouting department will need to be on top of its game.

    The following three prospects should already be in the conversation at No. 45.

Kessler Edwards, SF/PF, Pepperdine

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    The Celtics might have two of the league's top wings in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but the forward rotation runs pretty dry behind them.

    Kessler Edwards might fit as a depth piece.

    He could slide into a three-and-D role sooner than later. Defensively, he's ready to pester wing scorers right now. Offensively, he's heavily dependent on a three-point shot with unorthodox mechanics but great results so far (39.5 percent across three seasons). If the shooting translates, he should be able to handle a modest workload.

    If it doesn't, well, he better be elite defensively, because he isn't bringing much else to the opposite end. He isn't a great passer or shot-creator, so he could be tough to play if he's not making shots.

Daishen Nix, PG, G League Ignite

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    The Celtics don't have a pure point guard on the roster, but they could get one in Daishen Nix.

    The 19-year-old is a natural table-setter who finds open teammates in transition and half-court sets. He can attack either direction, keep defenders off-balance with speed changes and carve up opponents with on-time, on-target deliveries.

    The question is whether he's just a passing specialist. He doesn't have great quickness or explosion, which means he could struggle beating his defender and finishing around the basket. He needs a lot of work as a jump shooter and as a defender.

    But in this draft range, there will be a give and take with every prospect. Boston might value Nix's handles and passing enough to look beyond his limitations.

Austin Reaves, SG, Oklahoma

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Austin Reaves took the long road to the NBA draft. His college career spanned five seasons at two different schools: first Wichita State, then Oklahoma.

    The 23-year-old didn't look like an NBA prospect until the final campaign, so he's either a late-bloomer or a one-year wonder. Midway through the second round, it's fine to bet on the former.

    An 18-point scorer this past season, his quick first step and fluidity can help him snake past the initial line of defense. He can then finish with physicality around the rim or toss in soft floaters before he gets there.

    On film, Reaves looks like a reliable shooter and creative playmaker, though the stat sheet isn't sure about either area (30.5 three-point percentage, 4.6 assists against 3.0 turnovers).

    He needs at least one of those areas to pop, because the defensive end won't be kind to him. He doesn't have the length to hang with big wings or the quickness to keep in front of speedy guards.

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