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Possible Picks & Big Trade Rumors: Celtics Guide To 2018 NBA Draft

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- The NBA Draft is here. Let the chaos begin.

Tonight could be one of the most busy draft nights in recent history, with many teams looking to move up and down the board. The trade rumors have already started to surface, and should really pick up as 7 p.m. approaches.

As for the Celtics, this year's NBA Draft is severely lacking in the flair and drama department. After picking third overall in each of the last two drafts (never stop thanking Billy King, ever), Boston isn't slated to make a selection until the end of the first round at No. 27. At the moment, that's their only selection of the evening.

Of course, that could all change with Daniel Ainge in charge. "Trader Danny" could always kick open the door and starts slinging around his assets, and there are already rumblings that he's trying to do just that. Some reports have him hard at work trying to move up, or at least secure another selection or two, but that has become common practice for Ainge on draft day. Many times, those rumors remain just rumors.

But with a stacked lineup that got one win away from the NBA Finals without their top two stars, chances are Thursday night will be a relativity quiet one for the Celtics compared to years past.

From Boston's pre-draft workouts and what pundits think they'll do, it appears the Celtics are targeting guards or some help on the wing in this year's draft. While they could use another big man or two to pull down rebounds and protect the rim, Ainge may be waiting for veteran options to hit the open market this summer to help in that department.

Whoever the Celtics pick on Thursday night, whether it's at No. 27 or wherever Ainge maneuvers himself to on the draft board, they won't have too much pressure to come in and perform during their rookie season. As a late first-round pick coming into an already loaded roster, the newest Celtic(s) likely won't be relied upon to have the transcendent season we just saw out of Tatum. That being said, it doesn't mean the Celtics can't snag a talented role player to help a bit next season.

With the selections just a few hours away from flying off the board, here's a quick rundown of who and what Celtics fans need to know ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Possible Picks

There are the players the Celtics have been connected to throughout the pre-draft process and should be available when the Celtics pick at No. 27 (if they do indeed pick at No. 27, of course).

Bruce Brown, G, Miami

Bruce Brown
Miami guard Bruce Brown dunks against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the Quarterfinals of the ACC Basketball Tournament on March 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 190 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 11.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.0 APG
College Career: 11.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.5 APG

A Boston native who played at Wakefield High School for two years before transferring to Vermont Academy, Brown is a strong defensive-minded guard who fits the Celtics' mold. He is big enough to defend both guard positions and won't get out-muscled by wing players. While he's shown glimpses on offense and isn't afraid to attack the rim, he's got an inconsistent shot from downtown, hitting just 32 percent of his attempts in his two years at Miami. His three-point shot took a step back last season, as he hit just 27 percent.

Brown was a projected lottery pick after a strong freshman season for the Hurricanes, but his draft stock dropped after he suffered a season-ending foot injury in January. But he still declared for the NBA Draft and is expected to be a late first-round or early second-round selection.

He sounds like a solid Marcus Smart replacement, should the Celtics need one next season. He worked out twice for Boston ahead of the draft, with his second pre-draft visit with the team on Wednesday.

Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati

Jacob Evans
Jacob Evans of the Cincinnati Bearcats dribbles with the ball against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane during the 2018 NCAA season. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 210 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 13.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG
College Career: 11.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.5 APG

Evans was praised as one of the top defenders in the ACC last season, and coming from a strong defensive program under Mick Cronin should help him at the next level (as should his 6-foot-9 wingspan). He could be a potential Smart replacement given his physical makeup on the defensive side of things.

On offense, Evans averaged a team-high 13 points for the Bearcats as a junior, starting all 36 games last season. He shot 43 percent from the floor, hitting 37 percent of his attempts from three-point range, but is much better at attacking the rim than he is at his jump shot.

Kenrich Williams. SG/SF, TCU

Kenrich Williams
Kenrich Williams of the TCU Horned Frogs. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 210 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 13.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.8 SPG
College Career: 11.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.4 SPG

After Williams worked out for the Celtics, he noted how much different it was from other workouts he had attended, with the focus on defense and toughness. The TCU product would bring plenty of each to Boston.

Williams is a great rebounding wing, pulling down 9.3 boards last season, and made a name for himself on the defensive end (averaging 1.8 steals as a junior) in his three years with the Horned Frogs. He even turned himself into a solid three-point shooter last season, hitting 40 percent of his shots from downtown.

Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Grayson Allen Celtics Workout
Grayson Allen makes a pass during a pre-draft workout with the Boston Celtics. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 205 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 15.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.6 APG
College Career: 14.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.0 APG

Allen is the player just about every college basketball fan outside of Durham loved to hate. Why would he be a good fit in Boston? He can shoot threes, and the Celtics loooooovvvveeee to chuck 'em up from downtown. Allen is also a strong passer who improved that part of his game throughout his four-year career at Duke, and he's got a defensive motor and competitive drive that brought out the best (and the worst) in him. If he plays the same way in Celtics green, Boston fans will quickly fall in love with him and forget about his other antics on the floor (see: Marcus Smart's flopping).

With Smart heading into restricted free agency, Allen could be a solid replacement plan should another team offer Smart big bucks this offseason.

Kevin Huerter, G, Maryland

Kevin Huerter
Kevin Huerter of the Maryland Terrapins. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 190 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 14.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.4 APG
College Career: 12 PPG, 5 RPG, 3 APG

Huerter was a solid catch-and-shoot player in his two years at Maryland, hitting 47 percent of his shots from the floor. He really turned heads at the pre-draft Combine and went from being a potential second-round pick to someone teams are eyeing late in the first. There are limitations to his overall game, but Huerter can space the floor with the best of them in this draft class, which is an attribute the Celtics love.

Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Kansas v Villanova
Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 200 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 18.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.6 APG
College Career: 14.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.7 APG

If the Celtics want more depth at point guard, they could feel pretty comfortable with a rookie like Brunson helping in that regard. He was part of two NCAA titles during his three years at Villanova, so he'd bring some championship gusto to the NBA, along with some strong three-point shooting (shooting 40.8% from downtown last season as a junior) and better playmaking ability. He comes with defensive limitations given his size, which could be problematic in Boston's switch-heavy system, but if they're looking for an offensive quarterback off the bench, there are few better options than Brunson.

Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova

Donte DiVincenzo
Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow - Pool/Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 200 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 13.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.5 APG
College Career: 10.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.4 APG

The tournament's Most Outstanding Player will likely be off the boards when the Celtics make their pick, but it's important to note that Ainge took DiVincenzo out to lunch after his workout in Boston. We'll just assume their date was to Chipotle and move on.

Omari Spellman, F/C, Villanova

Omari Spellman
Omari Spellman of the Villanova Wildcats dunks against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2018 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at the Alamodome. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-9
Weight: 260 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 15.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.6 APG
College Career: 14.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.0 APG

Rounding out the Nova trio is Omari Spellman, who should soon become one of the NBA's prototypical big men. He's not as big as you'd like, but he can shoot the ball well from just about anywhere. He hit 48 percent of his field goal attempts and 37 percent of his three-point bids in his only season with the Wildcats. During the NCAA Tournament, Spellman tallied 11.5 points and 8.8 rebounds over Nova's six-game championship march.

He's a bit of an enigma among pundits though, with some slotting him to go late in the first-round while others have him falling to the middle of the second-round.

Josh Okogie, G, Georgia Tech

Josh Okogie
Josh Okogie of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets goes up for a layup against the Virginia Cavaliers during the 2017-18 season. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 210 lbs
2017-18 Stats: 18.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG
College Career: 16.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG

Okogie is another tough and versatile guard who could come in an immediately help off the Boston bench. He's a solid defender and can create his own shot.

Mitchell Robinson, C, N/A

Basketball - The Jordan Brand Classic 2017
Mitchell Robinson of W. Kentucky in action during the Jordan Brand Classic, National Boys Team All-Star basketball game at The Barclays Center on April 14, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Height: 7-foot-1
Weight: 225 lbs

Robinson is one of the biggest enigmas in the 2018 draft. He has the talent and is one of the best shot-blockers in the draft, but he chose not to play ball in college, so there are a lot of questions about how NBA-ready he'll be. But for teams picking late in the first round or early in the second, he could be a worthy project that could pay big dividends in the future.

The Rumors

Oh, there are rumors. And there will be more, lots more, as 7 p.m. draws closer.

One rumor has Ainge trying hard to climb into the Top 10, meaning the Celtics probably have a few top picks in mind should they be able to move up.

There has been some rumblings that Ainge covets Lucka Donic, who is expected to fly off the board within the first five picks, which plays into Thursday morning's rumor that the C's are chatting with the Memphis Grizzlies about the No. 4 pick. The report says the Grizzlies would like to move back but remain in the lottery if they deal the No. 4 pick, which is something Ainge can't offer. But if they are OK with future lottery picks, then Ainge has plenty to offer up.

And then there is Kawhi Leonard, who is trying to get out of San Antonio for whatever reason. Most don't expect Leonard to be dealt before Thursday night, and the drama could carry into next season, but the Celtics have the goods to top any package for the former Finals MVP. It's highly unlikely Leonard moves on Thursday, but crazy things do happen on draft night. Buckle up.

The Assets

Should Ainge want to move up the draft board, or make a play for an available star, he has a treasure chest of assets to entice other teams.

The Celtics own a trio of potential first-round picks next year, all of which can get a bit complicated.

  • 2019 Sacramento Kings 1st-round pick: No. 1 overall protected, would convey to 2019 Philadelphia 76ers first-round pick
  • 2019 Memphis Grizzlies 1st-round pick: Top 8 protected in 2019 and '20 before becoming unprotected in '21
  • 2019 Los Angeles Clippers 1st-round pick: Top 14 protected in 2019 and '20, would become 2022 second-round pick

Given the uncertainty surrounding those picks, Ainge may want to cash in on them this year in a deep draft rather than wait for the great unknown next year.

As for players who may be on the move, Ainge can dangle Terry Rozier and his $3 million salary for next season, if he wants to cash in on his "Scary Terry" performance in the playoffs before the guard hits restricted free agency next summer. Forward Marcus Morris and his $5.3 million salary for next season could also be an enticing filler in moves (Morris is an unrestricted free agent after next season).

Chances are the Celtics won't make a blockbuster move on Thursday night. If anything they'll likely make a small move up the board, or move down to secure additional picks. But if Ainge wants to swap up the uncertainty of a few of his future assets, Thursday night could be his shot.

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