The Boston Celtics have a great team this season led by superstar Jayson Tatum. For years, the Celtics always seemed too young to be a legitimate contender. But that is no longer an excuse, as Tatum has elevated his game as one of the top-15 players in the world.
But still, the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks are the three teams standing in the way of Boston's success in the playoffs. To gain the advantage, Boston should try to make a blockbuster deal to acquire a star player to catapult them as the best team in the East.
Here are the 5 targets the Celtics can acquire, by offering a package centered around Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, Robert Williams, Payton Pritchard, 2021 first-round pick, and 2022 second-round draft pick from Charlotte.
5. Nikola Vucevic
2020-2021 Statistics: 23.3 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG
The Celtics need better inside scoring and Nikola Vucevic is the answer for that. The big man is automatic down low and from mid-range and has a decent three-point shot as well. Vucevic is shooting 42.7% from three this season, so he can fit in Boston's offense without being a liability.
Vucevic can also rebound at a high level and is a former All-Star. The Magic get their new point guard in Kemba Walker to replace Markelle Fultz and Marcus Smart will start alongside him and Terrence Ross on the wing.
4. Rudy Gobert
2020-2021 Statistics: 12.1 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, 2.7 BPG
Gobert signed a mega-money deal this off-season and as a result, everybody's eyes are on him. Gobert is a defensive specialist and he is truly one of the most impactful players in the league inside the paint. Gobert is one of the major reasons why the Jazz are playing well this season, although Donovan Mitchell is the franchise player for the squad.
The Celtics could have an elite defense with Gobert inside, while Tatum and Brown control the offense. The Jazz are playing well with Gobert in the lineup but if the chemistry still isn't there between him and Mitchell, getting Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart will be a deal they will consider.
3. CJ McCollum
2020-2021 Statistics: 26.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG
CJ McCollum is proving his worth this season, and he is a legitimate All-Star when he gets going from the perimeter. McCollum is one of the most consistent scorers in the NBA and he is a tough player to stop when he gets going. CJ can drive, spot-up, create his own shot, and play in the pick n roll. If the Celtics acquire CJ, their offense will be unstoppable.
The Trail Blazers are always a tough team to beat but they haven't performed consistently in the playoffs. Trading McCollum with the Celtics gets a defensive-minded player in Smart alongside Lillard and Covington, and Kemba Walker can come close to what McCollum brings on offense.
2. Bradley Beal
2020-2021 Statistics: 34.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Everybody wants Bradley Beal. He is having a career year on the court and is the best offensive player in the NBA right now. Bradley Beal means everything to Washington, and he is the only driving force of the team even with Russell Westbrook on the team. But Beal is wasting his prime playing for the Wizards right now who are in the lottery.
Instead of seeing Beal walk for nothing, the Wizards should cash in and receive an All-Star in Kemba Walker, a young point guard in Pritchard, and a defensive specialist in Marcus Smart. Westbrook and Walker complement each other well while Smart can slot in the lineup perfectly. Beal makes the Celtics completely unstoppable with Tatum and Brown on the team, and they should make the Eastern Conference Finals.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns
2020-2021 Statistics: 22.0 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.8 BPG
For some reason, Towns is not able to lead the Timberwolves to any success even with the addition of D'Angelo Russell last season. Towns is a perfect NBA big man because he has no weakness on both ends of the floor. Towns can shoot from outside, post up, block shots, and defend the rim. The Celtics could use Towns starting alongside Tristan Thompson because Tatum and Brown will complement them perfectly.
The Wolves can shift Russell back to the shooting guard position and start Kemba Walker. Losing Towns hurts, but their return will be solid in the meantime and they can cash in on Towns who won't keep quiet after being uncompetitive for so long.