After a disappointing trade deadline, Boston Celtics fans couldn’t help but question Danny Ainge. With a plethora of assets, it seemed like making a deal for Paul George or Jimmy Butler should’ve been a cakewalk. The Celtics are in an awkward spot right now. They are not quite good enough to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors, but they are too close to contending to blow the team up. That could make this quiet deadline very frustrating for Celtics fans. Regardless, Boston’s future looks as bright as that of any NBA team at the moment.
The Boston Celtics’ Bright Future
2017 Brooklyn Pick
Owning the worst team’s first-round pick is always enjoyable, especially when it’s for the best NBA draft class in over a decade. The three picks the Celtics received from the Brooklyn Nets could create a future dynasty in Boston. So far, Boston used a No. 3 overall pick (Jaylen Brown), and now the Celtics have the highest chance at the first overall selection in 2017.
It’s not guaranteed to be the first pick yet. However, it will almost definitely be in the top four. Without knowing which pick they’ll land, it’s obviously hard to guess which player the Celtics will select.
The player who everyone seems to want is Markelle Fultz. The supremely talented guard from Washington will almost undoubtedly go first overall. He’s considered to be the best player and have the highest potential in the draft. However, if Fultz is taken, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, or Dennis Smith Jr. would all be excellent “consolation” prizes.
If these players come close to their expected potential, they could be key pieces for a championship contender. Celtics fans should be extremely happy to see any of these young men wearing green next season.
2018 Brooklyn Pick
This unprotected 2018 first-round pick is another gift from the Nets in what is also expected to be a talented draft. The third and final pick Boston will receive from Brooklyn has many possible outcomes. Of course, it’s hard to tell if Brooklyn will be nearly as bad next season, so it’s quite possible that the pick won’t be in the top five or even top ten. For the time being, let’s assume the pick is in the top five, which is a reasonable estimate.
With a top five pick, the Celtics would be guaranteed a chance to draft a current five-star prospect such DeAndre Ayton, Wendell Carter, Kevin Knox, Michael Porter Jr., or Trevon Duval. Again, all of these players may become franchise cornerstones someday. The pairing of any one of these players from each draft could be a potential nightmare for opponents for years to come.
As everyone knows, the first Brooklyn pick turned into Jaylen Brown. At the time, the decision was questioned by just about every NBA fan. However, after seeing Brown for the first four months of his career, it’s hard to disagree with Ainge. This shows why Celtics fans should continue to trust the decisions Ainge makes.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what Brown’s ceiling is, but he’s already shown flashes of what he’ll bring to the table. His decision-making alone has improved by leaps and bounds over the course of the season, but his scoring and rebounding have become more consistent, as well. In five games since the All-Star break, Brown is averaging about 13 points and five rebounds per game on 55.3 percent shooting, including 43.8 percent from deep.
Ever since joining the Celtics, Brown has slowly become a fan favorite, and deservedly so. Boston’s fans should be excited to see his growth over the next few seasons.
Overseas Draft and Stash
Yabusele has spent his season playing in China for the Shanghai Sharks. He has averaged 21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and two assists on 53.4 percent shooting and 37.3 percent from three. Fans were able to watch the French forward a little during Boston’s Summer League games, but unfortunately, it is unlikely that many have caught his games in China. He appears to be in better shape than he was this past summer. In his game film, Yabusele looks quicker on his feet and faster getting up and down the court. He recently suffered an ankle injury but the full details haven’t been released yet. Ainge recently announced that Yabusele would likely join the Maine Red Claws after the Chinese Basketball League season came to an end.
Zizic has also been very impressive during his time in Europe, putting up 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game on a remarkable 66.7 percent from the field. While Zizic isn’t a refined defender, the 7’0” Croatian has the tools to be a reliable rim protector in Boston. That’s before mentioning his rebounding ability, which will be appreciated once he joins the team. Not many NBA fans have had the pleasure of watching Zizic play yet, but he has the potential to be a great player for the Celtics for years to come.
Current Young Players
To go with all of Boston’s up-and-coming prospects, the team’s bench unit has a great young core. Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier have clearly been key to the Celtics’ success this year. But James Young, Demetrius Jackson, and Abdel Nader could all help the team in the near future, as well.
James Young has had moments this season when it looks like he’s ready to finally break out. He has the athleticism and shooting touch to be a solid bench scorer.
Demetrius Jackson has spent the season traveling back and forth between Boston and Portland, Maine. Jackson’s time spent in Portland has been impressive, as he’s averaged 15.9 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds with the Red Claws.
Abdel Nader has been arguably the most surprising prospect for the Celtics. He was the 58th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and has only excited the Celtics organization ever since. Nader is averaging 21.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists on 46.5 percent shooting and 38.7 percent from three for the Maine Red Claws. Nader now looks like he could be another contributor for Boston.
What does all this mean for Isaiah Thomas? Thomas has one more season before his contract is up, but once he hits free agency, the Celtics will face a tough decision of whether or not to give him a max contract. After his career year this season, it seems like an easy decision. But since the Celtics maxed out Al Horford, their cap space will be more limited than Ainge and the rest of the front office would like it to be.
Boston is clearly a guard-heavy team and will likely add another guard in the upcoming draft. Ainge will have to make some tough decisions to deal with the abundance of backcourt players. The development of Smart and Rozier will have an impact on these decisions.
The assumed star power and depth could be the making of the NBA’s next super-team. The future in Boston certainly looks exciting and promising, with a potential dynasty on the rise.