Best Potential Options for Boston Celtics with No. 6 Pick in 2014 NBA Draft
It could have been worse.
Luckily, this is a strong draft. Even at No. 6, the Celtics will have some attractive options to choose from that they can build with for the long haul. But given the assets this team has with regard to extra and future draft picks, general manager Danny Ainge will also have the flexibility to get creative.
Attempt to Trade into Top Four, Package No. 6 with Other Assets
If you ask me, there are four golden prizes in this 2014 draft: Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum. Top four is where you want to be.
At No. 6, the Celtics will likely be looking at Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon and Dario Saric—all strong prospects who justify top-six value—just not ones who offer the same type of upside as our projected top-four picks.
If the Celtics really want to make a splash, they could look to package No. 6 with a combination of players and picks in an attempt to move into the top four and secure either Wiggins, Embiid, Parker or Exum.
If Wiggins and Parker go No. 1 and No. 2, it's possible the Philadelphia 76ers, who already have a point guard and center, won't be as interested in Exum and Embiid at No. 3, which might make them willing to trade down.
What if Wiggins, Parker and Exum go top three, and Embiid is there for the Orlando Magic, who already have a center? Maybe Orlando would then be willing to move down two spots if it was fairly compensated to do so.
The Celtics own the No. 17 pick as well as No. 6. They could put together a package of those two picks, along with some talent on the roster and negotiate from there.
It's too early to know whether the Sixers or Magic would even consider such a deal, but it's certainly an opportunity worth exploring if you're Danny Ainge.
If Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum are off the board, the Boston Celtics will be guaranteed one of the top-three power forwards in the draft.
Julius Randle is a bully—a physical interior forward who can man the glass and take over in the paint. Regardless of how well you rate his upside, Randle has the potential to evolve into a long-term starter and significant franchise building block.
Noah Vonleh is no different. Almost a year younger than Randle, he led the Big Ten in rebounding playing under 27 minutes a game, and with 6'9" size, a 7'4" wingspan, a post game and promising jumper, there really isn't much to question outside of his developmental timetable.
Aaron Gordon established himself as the most athletic big man in the class. He proved it at the NBA Draft Combine, though you didn't really need a timer or measuring stick to come to that conclusion. Gordon isn't as polished offensively as Randle or Vonleh, but his incredible defensive versatility and above-the-rim hops play to his unique two-way potential.
I'm a Vonleh guy myself, based on his sharp physical tools and inside-outside offensive repertoire, but all three of these prospects seem like can't-lose options in this year's draft.
Who knows what Rajon Rondo's future looks like? But whether he's here for the long haul or not, Marcus Smart makes sense for more reasons than one.
For starters, he'd give the Celtics some insurance in case Rondo does end up somewhere else. And it ultimately gives Danny Ainge more flexibility, as it would allow him to trade Rondo without having to worry who'll run the point.
Smart also has the versatility to play off the ball. If Rondo stays, Smart's length, 227-pound frame and scoring ability should hold up against many other NBA 2-guards.
Lastly, he offers a competitive edge that this team seemingly lost when it traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Smart plays mean, physical and aggressive. He's someone who looks like he'd run through traffic to get that W.
"I sorta like Marcus Smart. I like his fire," Danny Ainge said while appearing on ESPN's combine broadcast, per ESPN's Chris Forsberg.
At No. 6, Smart just might be the top option on the board regardless, depending on how Ainge has him stacked up with the prospects.
I don't know if Smart will ever reach All-Star status, but I do know he's got the two-way game to make a positive short and long-term impact.
This might not make the fans happy, but with a big free-agent summer coming in 2015, and no rush for the Celtics to win in 2014-15, it might not be a bad idea to stash some talent.
Croatia's Dario Saric can play, and it seems as if he's getting better by the week. Saric was recently named MVP after putting up 23 points, 11 boards, seven assists and five blocks in the Adriatic League final. And he's fresh off a 36-point, 15-rebound performance in a one-point win over KK Zadar in Croatian League.
Though he's entered his name in the draft, Saric hasn't committed to playing in the NBA in 2014-15. And depending on each team's particular rebuilding plan and strategy, only certain ones might feel comfortable using a top pick to draft-and-stash.
Saric is a legitimate top-10 prospect, and with another pick in the mid-first round and a long ways to go in the rebuilding process, the Celtics are one of those teams that can afford to wait on talent overseas.
This kid offers a level of offensive versatility the Celtics won't find in the NCAA pool. If he chooses to stay overseas, the Celtics could bring him over for 2015-16 after another year of seasoning in a full-time role abroad.
Package Picks and Assets for Established Talent
Whether it's Kevin Love or another big-name player, the Celtics might want to think about packaging their picks to acquire some established talent.
They have a ton of future first-round picks in their bag. The No. 6 they have for 2014 could potentially be a whole lot more valuable to someone else, especially if it comes with a Happy Meal and sides.
If Danny Ainge isn't in love with the prospects projected to be there at No. 6, he could look to package the pick with more picks and assets in a deal for an actual player.
Love would seem like the obvious target right now based on the hourly trade rumors. But Ainge is a creative guy who looks at every possibility. There are other players to be had for the right price.