I typically don’t write opinion pieces since I know no one really cares about my opinion, but I feel like this one will resonate with a lot of Kentucky fans so I had to dip the pen. A lot of BBN are Boston Celtics fans for the same reasons that I am and I know they are feeling the same way.
I have been a Celtics fan since I was 6 years old. Since I knew what basketball was. Watching Kentucky and Tayshaun Prince play made me want to play for the Cats some day. Sadly, Calipari did not recruit out of my high school intramural league. They also made me want to keep watching these players after they left Kentucky. And the place to watch Kentucky players after graduation at that time was at the Boston Celtics. The BBNBA was a little scarce during my childhood in the late 90’s-early 2000’s.
Growing up in Louisville, I didn’t have an NBA team within 2 hours of me. If I was going to follow a team it was going to be because of my Kentucky fandom. At the time I got into basketball, Antoine Walker and Tony Delk were playing for the Celtics under former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino. How could I not root for them?
Some years later, Boston drafted Rajon Rondo and I knew this was going to be my team for life. The 2008 championship was the first time a sport made me cry tears of joy. After Rondo left, James Young and Tayshaun Prince joined the team briefly, but other than that, there has been nothing. Nothing permanent, or relevant to Kentucky. And I thought that was going to change for sure this year.
Anthony Davis has been the hottest name in the year’s offseason. When his list of potential landing spots came down to just the Celtics and Lakers, I had hope that he may end up in Beantown. Talks with the Lakers has fallen apart before; why couldn’t it happen again? Obviously, AD is now in LA ruining one of my many dreams.
Boston has another chance in this year’s draft and was ready to take Tyler Herro at 14. But the Heat swooped in and crushed my dreams again. Later on, the Celtics had another opportunity to possibly get Keldon Johnson, but decided to take the older, unathletic, undersized, no potential having Grant Williams instead. Sure, the Celtics may not need another small forward, but it would have been better than drafting a guy for the G-League. Yes. I am still mad about it.
Look, I know the Celtics don’t owe me anything and they probably didn’t even realize that they have a following in Kentucky. But it is the reason I am a fan and I am allowed to feel however I want as a free American. That being said, I still have hope and a lot of it for this upcoming season. After losing Al Horford and Aaron Baynes, Boston needs someone who can play the 5 spot desperately. Luckily, Julius Randle and Demarcus Cousins are both free agents who can do just that. I want the Celtics I know and love back. I want the Boston Celtics to return to glory as the kings of professional basketball with the help of Kentucky greats.
If you are also a Kentucky fan who loves the Celtics follow me on Twitter @soft7wic. And if you’re just a Kentucky fan and want every opinion and update on BBN then follow our main account @Soft7Sports.
Kentucky is getting exactly what they are paying for from John Calipari. Coach Cal had made it very clear that getting his players to the NBA is his top priority. And he is delivering. Every year he has been at Kentucky, he has had a player selected in the Lottery of the NBA Draft.
So far, Coach Cal has had three players drafted #1 overall and now a total of 21 players taken in the lottery, 29 in the first round and 38 overall. He has had more players taken in the top 14 than some conferences in the same amount of time. And it all started in 2010…
2010– John Wall (1st), Demarcus Cousins (4th), Patrick Patterson (14th)
2011– Enes Kanter (3rd), Brandon Knight (8th)
2012– Anthony Davis (1st), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2nd)
As we all know Big Blue Nation, we thankfully only have three players leaving to the draft this year. Sure, they are our best three players, but they are easily replaceable. Tyler Herro, PJ Washington, and Keldon Johnson are all great players with tremendous upside, and will all be drafted in the first round. However, the main issue isn’t whether or not they will get drafted, but will they get drafted by a good team. After all, they all will be drafted, but do we want them going to the Lakers to get traded by LeBron at a later date, or ending up on the Suns or some other organization where they have no future or hope? Hell no, we want them to go to the best fit. So, without further adieu, let’s see what team we need to be cheering for to draft our boys in blue…
1st Off the Board: SF Keldon Johnson Average Draft Board Range: 11th-16th Highest Projected Pick: 10th Lowest Projected Pick: 22nd
KJ has a rough night ahead of him. Being viewed as a top 5 wing can certainly help you in terms of a payday. However, that generally means that you are looking at being in the lottery, and that is sometimes a poor place to be. Sure, the bottom of the lottery teams are generally the ones that are most likely to jump into the 8th seed. Sure, it means that you are being drafted because the team needs you, not because you’re the best player in the class. However, it still is a place that is risky to be. After all, Minnesota, Charolette, and Miami are all drafting from 11-13, and those are all rough places to go. Minnesota sucks, Miami sucks, and Charolette suck. I have seen Keldon go to Atlanta at 10th, but I think that is a pipe dream. While I do think the Hawks need a defensive wing that can get buckets due to his athleticism, I don’t think KJ is good enough on the defensive end to warrant that high of a selection.
With all that out of the way, I really do think that KJ should not go in the lottery. Him slipping will benefit him greatly in the long run. Sure, he won’t make as much money, but he will be in a better place and fit for him. With that in mind, I have the best places for Keldon to go in 17-19 range. Which teams are those? Really good teams that need a wing: the Brooklyn Nets, the Indiana Pacers, and the San Antonio Spurs. The Nets are one of the emerging teams on the horizon in the NBA; they are young, in a great city, have a passionate fanbase, and have max salary slots available. Keldon would be behind a bonafide All-Star in (potentially) Kevin Durant, and could potentially benefit from his tutelage and the trainers in Brooklyn. The Pacers are not as well off as the Nets, but they already have two stars on their roster. KJ not having to shoulder a load besides bench scoring and starter defense while Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner sh*t on teams? The Pacers were the 5th team in the East WITHOUT OLADIPO THIS SEASON. Imagine how lucky Keldon would be to land on that team? Of course though, the luckiest spot would be if KJ could slip to the Spurs. Keldon in that farming system and being taught by the greatest coach of all time? I can’t see how that could possibly go wrong. He’d be set for life.
2nd Off the Board: PJ Washington Average Draft Board Range: 18th-27th Highest Projected Pick: 18th Lowest Projected Pick: 42nd
…pretty weird range right? A lot of people can’t seem to make up their mind about our boy that single-handedly carried the team. Generally, with non-“Blue Blood” programs, any player that leads his team in almost every category in the regular season, conference tournament, and March Madness is generally ranked highly on most boards. But, then again, we live in a world that hates the University of Kentucky.
Much like with how KJ has a weird scenario, PJ is experiencing the same thing. On one hand, he could go at 18th to the Indiana Pacers, a team that kind of needs to have a younger, more athletic PF on their roster going forward; on the other, he could slide to a title team like the Bucks or Warriors and learn underneath All-Stars. The following is every team drafting in the 18 to 30 range: – Indiana Pacers at 18 – San Antonio Spurs at 19 and 29 – Boston Celtics at 20 and 22 – Oklahoma City Thunder at 21 – Utah Jazz at 23 – Philadelphia 76ers at 24 – Portland TrailBlazers at 25 – Cleveland Cavaliers at 26 – Brooklyn Nets at 27 – Golden State Warriors at 28 – Milwaukee Bucks at 30 Can you see any team that wouldn’t benefit from having the defensive, athletic forward on their team? It would be beneficial for some of these teams to even get off older, more bloated contracts in order to gain PJ.
However, I do think that he should be praying that he doesn’t land on a few teams. While he could possibly be the starter for the Cavs and put up great stats, I do not know if that would benefit him in the long run. I’d also say that, until the Celtics figure out what is going on in their locker room, PJ should hope that he doesn’t land there either. The same could be said for the Thunder, since the amount of trade rumors surrounding the franchise has me questioning what they may or may not do for the future. The 76ers’ postseason aspirations and possible trades have me questioning what they will do as well, and I don’t think he playing with Ben Simmons will maximize his talent. The Bucks and Warriors would be bad since he would see almost no playing time. He would be behind an All-Star at either place, and he can’t stretch the floor enough in order to make it on the court with said All-Stars. In a bench role he’d surely shine, and he would be learning from two of the best defenders in the NBA currently.
In this range, any team is good for him. However, I would say the best possible places for him would be the Pacers, Spurs, Jazz, or Nets. The Pacers are a defense-orientated that are needing a younger option at power forward to play behind Thad Young, and that is who PJ should look to mirror in the beginning stages of his career. Much like the Pacers, the Spurs are defense first, but their farming system is absolutely impeccable. The young guard tandem of Murray and White will terrorize the league next year, and PJ being a part of that program would only benefit his stock in the long-run (see Jonathon Simmons). With the Nets options at power forward being the limited Jared Dudley or the severely handicapped Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, they could stand to gain heavily from PJ dropping to them.
The Utah Jazz, on the other hand, I see as the best place for PJ to land. With high postseason aspirations and a ton of cap to pursue a star point guard for their franchise, I could see him fit nicely into their plans. Sure, this pick may be traded to a team if the Jazz wish to trade for an All-Star guard under contract (looking at the Grizzlies and potentially the Raptors here), but he’d still work with the Jazz. The defensive potential of him and Gobert would be amazing, and they have other options on their roster to maximize their offense. PJ specialized at being a menace on the boards for put-back buckets, and him and Gobert could dominate the boards down low. A small-ball lineup of *insert point guard*-Mitchell-Ingles-Crowder-PJ could run the court with the best of teams, especially a (soon to be) depleted Warriors roster. It would give him the best possible place to develop his game while also giving him the chance to test his mettle in the playoffs.
3rd Off the Board: Tyler Herro Average Draft Board Range: 21st Highest Projected Pick: 21st Lowest Projected Pick: 21st
I’m not kidding when I say that I see Tyler Herro going to the Oklahoma City Thunder in every single mock. Candidly? That’s one of the best places for him to go. Sure, I’d love to see him go the Cavs so I can see the potential of a Sexton-Herro-Osman lineup going forward, but I see it unlikely he get’s past the Thunder. Afterall, OKC only had two players person shoot above the league average 35% from three all season, and it was Jerami Grant (45%) and Terrance Ferguson (38.9%). Otherwise, every player was below average, with the two All-Stars being the closest to the previously mentioned two (Russell Westbrook at 32.4%, and Paul George at 31.9%). Sure, Herro only shot from 35.5% from the college three point arc in his only season for the Wildcats, but his 93.5% stroke from the charity stripe indicates that his shooting will come around. Good free throw mechanics are essential to predicting the success of shooters in the league; it’s one of the best indicators on whether or not the shooting is an outlier or consistent. Herro’s potential as a shooter will get him on the Thunder, and I am certainly just as intrigued to see the fit. A small-ball Thunder lineup of Westbrook-Herro-Ferguson-George-Grant would be able to make it rain on almost every defense. Sure, Herro’s athleticism, or lack thereof, is a huge knock against his potential right now, but if he can model how Kyle Korver gets buckets then he should have a long and fruitful career in the NBA.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Suns are willing to do something stupid…again.
Sure, the Suns have said they want a veteran point guard for the pick. Smart move right? If there were no point guards expected to drop to them, then I would find it a smart move. Why draft another wing or big, even if they may be better than the guys you have on your roster?
Again though, it would be smart IF there were no guards expected to reach them. However, there are 6 players that people view as “the cream of the crop” in this draft. Three are point guards (Coby White, Darius Garland, and Ja Morant), one is a ball-dominant shooting guard (Jarrett Culver), one is an exceptional wing (DeAndre Hunter), and the last is a generational talent (Zion Williamson). It is highly unlikely 2 of the 6 will drop to them, but one for sure will. So why, for the love of all things holy in this world, are the Suns trying to trade this pick?
Well, they say that their goal is to trade the pick for a veteran point guard, and I find that admirable. For a team that hasn’t had a good point guard since Steve Nash laced up for the team, it makes sense that they are getting pretty desperate now to find one. Sure, every mock draft has Darius Garland falling to them, but that won’t mean the guy many refer to as having a handle like Kyrie Irving will be good right? Why get a young guard when you can get a good vet right?
Well, issue is, what good vets are there? Chris Paul and John Wall are the only two I can see be available via trade, and they both suck for this team. They both make way too much, and are way too old for the scope of this team. I don’t see a Wall/Paul-Booker-Jackson (pending legal issues)-Warren-Ayton team doing anything besides taking them from the #1 odds in the lottery to the #5 odds in the lottery.
This is a stupid move from an organization that has no direction in mind. The Suns are jeopardizing their future to make marginal gains for a season or two, and will still be on the hook for the vet’s ludicrous contract.
God I feel sorry for you Suns’ fans. It sucks having the worst owner in professional sports.
If you had told Celtics fans a year ago that their beloved
Kings pick would fall to number 14, you would have been laughed out of every
bar in Beantown. In the here and now, the Celtics will have the 14th
overall pick to go along with the 20th, 22nd, and 51st
The big what-ifs start with the Celtics only having six players under contract for next season. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and Aron Baynes all have player options, and Terry Rozier, Daniel Theis, and Brad Wanamaker are becoming restricted free agents.
If the Celtics resign Kyrie Irving, then this pick will be included in every offer the Celtics make for Anthony Davis However, if Irving does not re-sign or Davis cannot be acquired, then the Celtics may have to get more creative here.
One option would be to see if they can trade out of this
year’s draft. The Celtics already did not have enough minutes to go around for
their talent this season, and adding another lottery player wanting to cut
their teeth likely won’t be the solution, even with Marcus Morris and Terry
Rozier becoming a free agent and restricted free agent, respectively.
As far as another trade option, Boston could package this pick
with pieces that don’t play to consolidate some talent into a single player. The
only feasible target (using the term loosely) would be a trade for Michael
Conley which would involve packaging 14, probably another first, and Gordon
Hayward to make the money work. However, Hayward likely makes it a deal-breaker
Another option would be to draft international. With the exception of Guerschon Yabusele in 2016, the Celtics have yet to spend almost any draft capital on foreign players. With the logjam of players that may again be on the roster next year, it may be worthwhile to keep someone oversees for a season or two. Sekou Doumbouya of France and Goga Bitadze of the Republic of Georgia appear to be the best non-collegiate international players in the draft this season, so those may be options to keep an eye on.
Finally, the Celtics can draft the best available and make
it fit. That’s what they did with the Timelord, Robert Williams last season,
and he was exciting to watch in his sparse minutes. With the question marks
regarding Rozier’s and Irving’s status next season, a point guard would be
ideal. However, after Ja Morant, Coby White, and Darius Garland, who will
certainly be gone before 14, the best options available at the position would
be Ty Jerome and Carson Edwards, both of whom should not be picked in the
lottery. The fit with this strategy may be Nassir Little. With his limited
experience, he can sit for a season and potentially bloom into a 3-and-D guy to
play in Boston’s switch-heavy defensive schemes, especially with Jayson Tatum’s
and Jaylen Brown’s perennial involvement in trade talks. Little’s draft stock tends
to have him in the 10-15 range, so there’s a real possibility he won’t even be