Two of the most underrated assets on the Boston Celtics are currently overseas
The Boston Celtics are currently in one of the most unique positions in the NBA. Not only are they currently in a strong position to take the two seed in the Eastern Conference, but they are the clear cut favorites to get the number one overall pick from the Brooklyn Nets. They have a current roster of players that is proving that they are good enough as is to go on a playoff run in the East, while having one of the best young cores in the NBA. They have more draft picks than anyone else in the league, and with Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, they have one of the most promising futures in the NBA.
The Celtics are constantly surrounded by trade rumors because of their unprecedented collection of draft picks and young prospects, and that is before even mentioning two of the more intriguing potential pieces to this team’s future. In addition to Brown with the third overall pick, the Celtics had two more first round picks in the last draft, and they were both immediately sent overseas.
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The Celtics knew they did not have the roster space to accommodate all these picks, and both Ante Zizic and Guerschon Yabusele did not appear to be ready to contribute right away. That being said, their potential and promise cant be denied, and their importance to the future of this team is incredibly underrated.
First of all, the two of them give the Celtics addition trade options, without having to give up any core players or lottery picks. Teams will inevitably ask for a tremendous amount if they try to make a deal with the Celtics, and the two of them are the best way for them to sweeten the deal without hurting their current core, or mortgaging the top prospects of their future.
These are not the kind of players that will land them their blockbuster superstar, but they are the exact kind of assets that can be packaged together, in order to get a clear improvement for the roster.
Zizic and Yabusele are the forgotten assets when it comes to trades. All the talk is about the Nets picks, Brown, Smart and guys on great contracts like Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder. That being said, there are plenty of rebuilding teams that can afford to take a chance on these young bigs, and with the rest of their assets, they do not even need to be the main part of the trade on the Celtics end.
Yabusele is a young and incredibly unique athlete. A stretch big who has the frame to make up for being undersized is becoming more and more valuable in an NBA that is embracing versatility. He can become exactly what teams are looking for right now, and with so much time to grow and develop, there is tremendous potential with Yabusele. Zizic may not be as dynamic, but he can be a coaches dream. The high motor and intensity on the court means he could have an immediate impact as a rebounder and defender, while attempting to develop into a more well rounded player.
These two assets that are currently overseas cannot be ruled out as trade options, but that is not the extent of their value to the team. The Celtics have an embarrassing void in their front court depth. Kelly Olynyk has regressed this season, Jordan Mickey has not broken out in any way, Jonas Jerebko continues to have a limited impact, and Tyler Zeller looks useless on both ends. The Celtics need a serious overhaul of their second unit bigs, and that can start with Zizic and Yabusele.
Yabusele is still so young that it may take time for him to be strong enough on the defensive end to earn minutes, but there is no doubting that the Celtics desperately need Zizic’s rebounding. With Mickey failing to have an impact this season, Zizic is the most promising rebounder on the team, and the offensive standards on that second unit are not high enough to outweigh his rebounding. Zizc made it clear that he wanted to play in the NBA this season.
Again, these are players that have never seen NBA competition, and are going to need more than one season before they can take on a serious role. That being said, Brad Stevens has shown a willingness to give young players minutes, if they can avoid being a liability on the defensive end.
The bottom line is that the Celtics need new faces for their front court. Al Horford is fine with the starting unit, but Amir Johnson is their weakest link and the bench is far worse than the team could have anticipated this season. Zizic is their best rebounding option, and Yabusele is their best option to become a stretch forward that can defend.
He does not have the size of Olynyk, but his superior athleticism and potentially bigger offensive arsenal make him an intriguing option to take the place of Olynyk, whose contract is up after this season.
The Celtics still do not know what they will get out of either Zizic or Yabusele, but they are currently the best hope for the future of this front court. It is easy to dismiss them as they go unnoticed overseas, but this season has been a stark wake up call in terms of how little front court depth the Celtics have.