BOSTON -- For Boston basketball fans, the NBA Draft just kind of snuck up on everyone. The Celtics no longer rely on future first-round picks, and are instead enjoying the benefits of all those past first-round selections living up to their potential on the floor.
With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and company leading the Celtics to the NBA Finals -- a run that just ended a week ago -- the NBA Draft has been pretty much an afterthought in Boston. Add in Brad Stevens trading away the team's first-round selections in each of the last two years, and there really isn't much to get hyped about.
Stevens dealt away Boston's first-round pick in the 2021 draft to bring back Al Horford (and get Kemba Walker's deal off the books), and he parted ways with the team's 2022 first-round selection in the Derrick White trade with the Spurs at the trade deadline. So what do the Celtics have to work with on draft night?
Just one pick: No. 53 overall in the second round. That isn't going to get anyone too excited to block off their Thursday night.
And with a solid core in place with Tatum, Brown, Robert Williams, and Marcus Smart, the Celtics don't really need any more young players on the roster. Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard are still evolving in their reserve roles, while Aaron Nesmith continues to try to carve out one of his own. Boston will be looking to add some strong shooting and playmaking off the bench this offseason after the team fell just two wins short of a title. A rookie -- especially a second-round pick -- doesn't usually fit that bill on any team.
If Stevens even makes a pick on Thursday night, he'll likely look to add a project pick at No. 53. Here are a handful of players that the mock drafters see as potential fits for the Celtics with their lone selection in the 2022 NBA Draft:
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated: Tyrese Martin, G/F, UConn
The 6-foot-6 Martin spent his last two years at UConn after starting his collegiate career at URI. He averaged a career-best 13.6 points off 45 percent shooting to go with 7.5 rebounds per game as a senior for the Huskies.
Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: Jared Rhoden, G, Seton Hall
Rhoden, who is also 6-foot-6, played four year at Seton Hall and averaged 10.4 points and 5.5 rebounds over his collegiate career. He averaged 15.5 points per game as a senior, knocking down 39 percent of his shots from the floor.
Jonathan Givony, ESPN: Gabriele Procida, G, Italy
The 20-year-old averaged 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds for Fortitudo Bologna in Italy last season, shooting 38.3 percent from three-point range.
Krysten Peek, Yahoo Sports: Collin Gillespie, G, Villanova
Gillespie was a floor general for Jay Wright at Villanova for five years, taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility that players were granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He averaged 15.6 points and 3.1 assists in 2022, and was named the Big East Player of the Year and won the Bob Cousy Award for the best point guard in college basketball.
Bryan Kalbrosky, USA Today: Ron Harper Jr., Wing, Rutgers
Harper Jr. played four years at Rutgers and started 109 of his 121 games over his collegiate career. He shot 44 percent overall and 40 percent from three-point range for the Scarlett Knights, averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. He scored 15.8 points per game and earned second-team All-Big 10 honors a senior in 2022.
He is the son of Ron Harper, who won five NBA titles (three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the L.A. Lakers) during his pro career.
NBADraft.net: Michael Foster, PF, G League
Foster was a 2021 McDonald's All-American and a five-star recruit out of prep school in Arizona, and was originally set to go to Arizona State. But he backed out and instead joined the G League, where he played for the Ignite. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks over 30.5 minutes per game for the Ignite.
Foster is only 19 and appears to have loads of raw talent, but will need some time to season at lower levels.
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