Ron Chenoy

Who's The Next Boston Celtic?

Hunter Perkins breaks down the top prospects available to the Celtics with the pick they receive in the 2017 NBA Draft.

It’s official, the Celtics are already really good, and they are ready to be great. They are firing on all cylinders when needed most. They just defeated the Washington Wizards in seven games for the right to take on the defending champs, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

This week is crucial for the Celtics. So far, so good. After eliminating the Wizards on Monday, the Celtics are sure to be paying attention to ping pong balls on Tuesday. This marks the day of the NBA Draft Lottery, where the Celtics have the best chance to land the top pick.

The Celtics, as you probably already know, have the rights to switch first round picks with the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics are continuing to reap the rewards from Brooklyn’s acquisition of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry in 2013. The trade left Brooklyn with no rings, no cap space, and no draft picks. It left the Celtics with a Fastlane pass to a speedy rebuild.

The Celtics selected Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick in last year’s draft. He has been phenomenal this season, as he has contributed for a team that is still playing in mid-May.

The Guys in Green are in an extremely rare position. It is not very often that a team can win a Game 7 one day, and then be awarded the number one overall pick the next day.

But here we are.

The Nets pick has the best odds at landing the number one pick, and is guaranteed to be a top four selection. This has put the Celtics in a great spot between rebuilding and contending at the same time. Brown, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart are all under 24 years old. They three have taken huge leaps this season, showing glimpses of what they can become in the future.

Let’s not forget about Guerschon Yabusele or Ante Zizic, either. These players are going to contribute to the Celtics next season, and it is rumored that the two draft-and-stash prospects BOTH would have been lottery picks in this year’s draft. That means that Celtics (in all technicality) will come out of the draft with three of the top fourteen players.

The future is obviously bright, but the brightest star might not even be wearing green yet.

The 2017 NBA Draft is absolutely loaded. The Celtics will find a difference-maker no matter where they select, which should excite the fans to no end.

In a draft that is weaker at the 4 and 5 positions, Yabusele and Zizic will help not pressure the Celtics into reaching for a big. That means the Celtics can do the smart thing and go for the best player available.

So, who is the best player available? Here are my top four preferences for the Celtics if they can land the number one overall pick.

MARKELLE FULTZ

I have been salivating at Fultz’s potential for about six months now. The Dematha graduate is the consensus player in this year’s draft. He is simply incredible. The 18-year-old is the most polished offensive player to come out of college since Kevin Durant. He can put the ball in the hole in a variety of different ways. He can facilitate, drive, shoot, defend, and he has all the intangibles. He was cut from his high school team his sophomore year. He was a lanky 5’9” guard with a lot of skill, but he was simply deemed too small. He was a worker, but college teams could not look past his size.

And then he grew seven inches, and his world changed. The hard worker without the intangibles grew into a hard worker with the intangibles and a chip on his shoulder. The offers started to come in, he chose Washington, and he took off from there.

Fultz’s complete package has earned him the comparison to James Harden and Damian Lillard, two players that I’m sure the Celtics would love to have. But thing is, Fultz is a little different. With his 6’4 height comes a 6’10 wingspan, and you cannot teach that. Fultz will be able to play three positions in the NBA, but he’ll see most of his time at the point and shooting guard.

The thought of adding Fultz should entice the Celtics for a number of different reasons.

First off, I believe the Celtics already have a guard from Washington, if I’m not mistaken. I think his name is Isaiah Thomas.. Thomas and Fultz are actually already friends, and they exchange texts once in a while. As a Celtics fan, I think I would much rather see them exchange the basketball. Fultz seems down for it. Fultz said in an April interview, "We always talk about the opportunity. That would be the craziest backcourt. The way he scores, the way I can pass, and the way I can score… we can switch between the one and two." Excuse me while I smile uncontrollably for about seven minutes.

Fultz would step in at shooting guard and start alongside Thomas, which is just what they want. Fultz and Thomas would be an incredible backcourt, and him and fellow youngster Jaylen Brown would create mass amounts of excitement for the Celtics’ future.

Adding Fultz would also allow Boston to trade one of Rozier, Bradley, Crowder, or Smart in an effort to sure up another big man. Smart and Crowder are less likely to be traded, but Bradley or Rozier (or both) could bring back an excellent haul for the Green.

Simply put, Markelle Fultz would put the Celtics in a position to contend for the next umpteen years.

JOSH JACKSON

What’s more exciting than having one young two-way player with an enormous ceiling? Having two of those players. Jaylen Brown already fills the role, but adding Jackson would be another great step for the Celtics. Jackson and Brown are very similar players, and would complement each other perfectly. Both of them can play the 2, 3, or 4. That versatility would help the Celtics line up in a number of different ways.

Picture this, Thomas running up the floor with Brown, Jackson, Crowder, and Yabusele. That small ball lineup is fast and could create nightmares for opposing teams. Having three strong, two-way wings does a lot in today’s NBA, as versatility is becoming more and more important.

Like Jaylen Brown, Jackson’s biggest weakness in college is his shooting. He shot the ball very well from deep, which aided some of those concerns, but he will need to continue to improve on this skill to become what he can be.

Jackson has a great post-up game that he will be able to use from day one. He is strong, fast, and agile. His skillset is similar to a smaller Paul Millsap. Millsap is an undersized four and five, but the skill set is still similar. They both can defend multiple positions, transition on both offense and defense, and produce highlight reel plays.

Jackson will be successful in the league due to his intangibles. If he develops a jump shot, he’ll have the ability to turn into one of the best players at his position in the league. He would be a great fit for a Celtics team looking to take the next step.

JAYSON TATUM

People might be looking for Lonzo Ball’s name to appear here, but it is not and will not. Ball will not fit into the Celtics offense due to his inability to create his own shot and play multiple positions. Plus he wants to be a Laker anyway, so I’ll let him take his happy ass to Los Angeles, as long as he brings Lavar with him.

Jayson Tatum should excite Celtics fans because he could provide another legitimate scoring option for the team. His offensive game is very polished for his age. He settles for a lot of mid-range jumpers, but he also makes a lot of those looks. He shoots well both off the dribble and off the catch. He has the ability to drive, and when needed, he can throw it down. From day one, Tatum will be able to score from any spot on the floor, which would help him earn playing time under Stevens. Tatum can play the two, three, or four, but he will see most of his playing time at the small forward position.

Tatum reminds me a lot of Carmelo Anthony without the headaches. Tatum may never be quite as good as Anthony on offense, but he very well could be. He would be a great option to pair alongside Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder, as he could provide midrange offense that the other two lack. Tatum’s size will allow him to defend the three very well. He may not be a superb defender now, but under the tutelage of Stevens and Crowder, he could easily turn into one.

Tatum is a very intriguing fit for the Celtics, and he would instantly provide the green with another option on offense. The Celtics are simply trying to get younger and better. Jayson Tatum allows them to do both of those things.

JONATHAN ISAAC

Isaac is easily the most interesting option on this list. He fills a need for the Celtics, and he is the lesser known name on this list. Isaac played his one year of college basketball at Florida State, where he became a solid two-way option for the team.

At 6’10 with a 7’2 wingspan, Isaac is a lengthy young player with enormous two-way potential. Isaac’s athleticism and shooting stroke have earned him comparisons to Chris Bosh.

On defense, Isaac’s most impressive skill might be able to stay with guards that he is switched on to. He has great feet and shot-blocking instincts that allow him to stay with anyone that he is guarding. He drives to the rim very well, and has the explosion to succeed in the league.

He will need to get stronger, as his upper body lacks NBA-strength, but that can be easily fixed. Isaac will need to get stronger so he can manhandle opposing defenses and offenses. Getting stronger will allow him to handle contact on both sides of the ball. He’ll need this strength mostly when dealing with post play. The NBA is a strong man’s league, and Isaac will need to make body improvements to succeed.

The thought of pairing Isaac alongside Horford should really entice Celtics fans. Not only are they a great fit together, but Horford could and would take the younger Isaac under his wing. Horford is one of the smartest bigs in all of basketball, so he would be the perfect man to help turn Isaac’s upside into his reality.

Isaac would give Brad Stevens another versatile big to work with, and would most assuredly push the Celtics in the right direction. He may not be the immediate the star the Celtics are looking for, but he could develop into a force in Boston.

So here they are, my top four choices for the Celtics. All four youngsters are tremendous players in a loaded draft that could alter the future of Boston basketball. Fultz is my number one option, as I believe he is the closest thing to a for-sure-superstar in this draft. The other options could either turn into great players with the Celtics, or could be part of a trade package that “Nets” the Celtics a bonafide star in Jimmy Butler or Paul George.

Either way, the future is very, very bright for this Celtics team.

 

 


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