Boston Celtics: 5 options for pick No. 3 in 2017 NBA Draft

Boston Celtics

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After sending the No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers and getting the No. 3 pick in return, how will the Boston Celtics now approach their first selection in the 2017 NBA Draft?

The last couple of days have been rather eventful for the Boston Celtics. After much speculation regarding how they’d use the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, general manager Danny Ainge decided to send it to the Philadelphia 76ers.

As part of the deal, the Celtics got the No. 3 overall pick, as well as either the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 2018 first round pick (must fall between picks 2-5) or the Sacramento Kings‘ 2019 first round pick. With the 76ers now expected to spend the selection on Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, Boston has to figure out a new plan for draft night.

So what’s the approach for the Celtics at No. 3? It’s anyone’s guess, especially considering some of the rumors we’re hearing after Saturday’s big agreement. While there are plenty of ways they could go with the pick, some seem far more likely than others at this point in the process.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the team’s options. They may not all be the most enticing (at least not as enticing as Fultz was), but it’s not like the Celtics need a home run to up their game in 2017-18.

So here they are: the Celtics’ five most likely options for spending the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Keep in mind, though, that pretty much anything is possible at this point, especially after the blockbuster deal that got them in this position in the first place.

Boston Celtics

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Keep trading down from No. 3

The first (and most unlikely) option for the Celtics is continue moving down the draft. It doesn’t seem like a real option for Ainge and co., but it is technically a route they could take. However, I wouldn’t put too much stock in this happening on draft night.

On the surface, trading down and stockpiling picks sounds like a great idea. That is, unless you’re the Celtics, who already have more picks than they probably know what to do with, especially after already trading down once.

Not only do they own four in 2017 (Nos. 3, 37, 53, 56), but they also have another seven first-round picks between the 2018 and 2019 drafts. Stockpiling picks simply shouldn’t be on Boston’s mind right now.

The only way I could see Boston trading down again is if they only moved down a few more picks while adding a quality role player. With a number of reserves headed for free agency this offseason, adding depth while still getting a potential star wouldn’t be the worst idea.

In the end, though, I just can’t see this team passing on an opportunity to add a top-three talent unless it means adding a potential star. There are too many options near the top of the draft for the Celtics to move down just for a role player or even more picks.

Boston Celtics

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Draft Lonzo Ball

If the Celtics actually use the No. 3 pick, there appear to be three realistic options. The first, and least likely, is Lonzo Ball, who seems destined to be headed for Los Angeles at this point in time. However, if the Lakers pass, Ball may be a consideration for Boston.

The problem with this one, though, is that the Celtics already have plenty of guard talent on the roster. That’s considered a big reason why they chose to pass on Fultz in the first place. However, if they aren’t sold on some of the other top prospects, they may choose to grab another guard if Ball is still on the board.

Obviously Ball would be an excellent addition to this roster, even if the backcourt is already loaded. Realistically, both Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are slated to hit free agency next offseason, so having more options/potential replacements would be ideal. Ball would obviously be an intriguing option, but he’s more of a true facilitator at point guard.

Considering that’s the role Thomas serves in, Ball seems redundant. Then there’s Marcus Smart, who is one of the better backup point guards in the NBA. The Celtics will consider taking the UCLA product if he’s available, but chances are slim they opt to call his name on draft night.

Boston Celtics

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Acquire a superstar

At first glance, this weekend’s move by the Celtics just seems like an opportunity to stockpile picks. That’s great, and Ainge is obviously no stranger to accumulating future draft assets. However, there’s been word floating around the league that there’s more to the story here.

Here’s just one of many reports on the matter, via ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:

Or this from Real GM’s Keith Smith:

Now at this point, it’s mostly speculation. However, there have been a number of well-connected folks talking about the Celtics making a move for the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler. It would seem to make sense considering the pick hoarding and Boston’s need for a superstar. Other names such as Paul George could also come into play.

The real takeaway here, though, is that the Celtics may not be done wheeling and dealing. They’re accumulating assets at an alarming rate, and already had plenty to work with before this weekend’s agreement. Instead of hoping they can steal a star via free agency, maybe they figure a trade will get them over the postseason hump in 2017-18.

It’ll be interesting to see how the situation develops in the coming days. For now, though, all we can do is speculate on whether or not the pick will be made by/for someone else come draft night.

Boston Celtics

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Draft Jayson Tatum

With the Celtics looking to avoid adding too many young options to the backcourt, going with a forward makes sense. According to The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, Jayson Tatum is one of the top considerations for Boston’s newly acquired No. 3 overall selection.

The interest makes plenty of sense, especially with his position versatility. Considering his size and strength, Tatum can make an impact at either forward spot. His shot appears to have improved since the end of the 2016-17 season, and he offers enough athleticism and tenacity to be an effective defender as well.

If he can contribute at the 4-spot, Tatum would be a great fit in Boston. Both Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko are headed for free agency this offseason, and may not be retained. Assuming one or both leave, the Celtics will need more options at power forward. Tatum appears more than capable of filling the void based on his performance at Duke.

Realistically, who the Celtics select will come down to who’s available. The Lakers are expected to go with Ball at No. 2 now that Fultz is essentially locked up, but could decide to throw us all a curve ball. If that’s the case, look for Boston to call Tatum’s name at No. 3 overall.

In the end, though, Tatum should be option No. 2 for Boston…

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Draft Josh Jackson

This is apparently the player the Celtics are hoping to grab with the No. 3 pick. Although they’ve yet to bring him in for a visit, the team appears to be requesting the opportunity after working out a deal to move down from No. 1.

According to the Boston Globe‘s Adam Himmelsbach, Boston’s attempts to bring in Jackson have been unsuccessful. While that comes off a tad strange, I highly doubt it doesn’t happen at some point leading up to Thursday’s draft. Once that visit occurs, I’m guessing the Celtics will be sold on the Kansas product.

Jackson is a human highlight reel. Not only is he an outstanding two-way star in the making, but he has the talent to become a key piece of the puzzle for the Celtics. He can score points in bunches, and is more than capable of shutting down top scorers. In a few years, I’d imagine he’ll be regarded as one of the NBA’s up-and-coming defenders.

The only concern is that the Lakers could take him instead of Ball at No. 2. They’ve already worked Jackson out twice, and recent rumors would suggest their interest is real (via The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski).

If Jackson is available, though, I believe he’ll be the selection at No. 3. Even with Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder still on the roster, the former Jayhawk would add a whole new dynamic to this Boston roster. After the trade went down, this appears to be the direction Ainge and co. are headed in — if they keep the pick.

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