Celtics' Complete 2021 NBA Draft Preview, Predictions

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 26, 2021

Celtics' Complete 2021 NBA Draft Preview, Predictions

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    If Brad Stevens bungles his first NBA draft as the Boston Celtics president of basketball operations, he won't be able to blame a lack of preparation.

    Because Stevens sacrificed his first-round pick to shed Kemba Walker and bring Al Horford back to town, the Shamrocks won't come on the clock until midway through the second round.

    Finding value there isn't impossible, though history paints the educated guessing game as more of a dart throw at that point.

    Let's break down what's on the horizon for Boston with Thursday night's talent grab fast approaching.

Draft Assets and Team Needs

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    The Celtics are short on certainties beyond star young wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

    But since Boston is unlikely to land on another centerpiece with only the draft's 45th overall selection, the focus should be on finding players who can complement this core.

    A floor-spacing big would be nice to have. Shooting in general could use some attention, especially on the second unit. The Celtics could use another perimeter stopper to alleviate some of the burden carried by Tatum and Brown.

    With Walker off the roster, Boston will likely enter the draft without a natural point guard on the roster. If Stevens factors team needs into his decision-making process, that glaring void at the lead guard spot could be hard to overlook.

Expert Mock Projections

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    Three draft experts carried their mocks through the second round. All three had different opinions on which direction the Celtics will take.

    The Athletic's Sam Vecenie went with Ohio lead guard Jason Preston.

    If that name sounds familiar at all—many second-rounders won't—that's because Preston played the starring role in the 13th-seeded Bobcats' takedown of fourth-seeded Virginia in the NCAA tournament. Always a statsheet stuffer, Preston piled 13 rebounds, 11 points, eight assists and three three-pointers in his 40 minutes.

    B/R's Jonathan Wasserman opted for Pepperdine swingman Kessler Edwards. He pairs shot-making with defensive versatility, and while he doesn't project as elite in either area, he could handle both well enough to wear the coveted three-and-D label.

    Rounding out the projections, SI.com's Jeremy Woo went with Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves. A transfer from Wichita State, Reaves made the most of his senior season with the Sooners by averaging 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

Draft Predictions

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    Admittedly, we're grasping at straws a bit here, since 44 players will be off-limits before Boston makes its selection.

    But we do see a possible match between the Celtics and 19-year-old point guard Daishen Nix.

    The G League Ignite alum is one of the better handlers and distributors in this draft. While there are question marks with most of the rest of his game—he isn't super explosive and needs plenty of polish as a shooter and defender—Boston might have the roster depth to help cover a lot of his flaws.

    In turn, he'd give them a legitimate ball-mover who could help position their top scoring threats for success.

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