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The Celtics Conundrum: Okafor or the 3rd Pick?


The Boston Celtics are one of the league’s most intriguing situations thanks to their unique combination of young talent, superb coaching, and an obscene number of draft picks over the next several years. In this years draft alone the Celtics have 3 first round picks, including the third overall selection a-la the Brooklyn Nets. But, apart from the obvious talents of Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, who does that leave the Celtics with?

Buddy Hield is the most attractive choice thanks to his excellent shooting exhibitions throughout the NCAA tournament. While he would be entering the league at age 22, so did Portland guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Not bad company to be in right? Beyond Buddy Hield your options spread far and wide, ranging from the likes of Jamal Murray and Kris Dunn to Jaylen Brown and Dragan Bender.

Like Hield, Murray is an excellent shooter from beyond the arch who (with time)could adapt to any system in today’s league. Meanwhile, Kris Dunn is the exact opposite of Murray or Hield, relying on his physical gifts to finish around the rim and impose his defensive presence on smaller guards. The only issue that presents itself with drafting a guard is that the immediate issue is Boston’s lackluster front court, consisting of stars like Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko. So that leaves us with questionable options like Jaylen Brown or Dragan Bender, who quite frankly just aren’t deserving of the third overall selection. So why not trade Brooklyn’s pick for a player who can buff out some of the Celtics deeper scratches? Specifically the Philadelphia 76ers 2015 first round draft pick, Jahlil Okafor.

The trade makes sense for both parties on numerous levels. On one hand the Celtics acquire a polished post player who can immediately assist Isaiah Thomas on the scoreboard, and can grow in Brad Stevens’ defensive minded system. For the 76ers, they alleviate their now crowded front court (Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric), which is essential now that Bryan Colangelo has confirmed that the team will be drafting Ben Simmons. On top of that, they can obviously use the third overall pick to strengthen their back court with promising options like Hield, Murray, or Dunn.

The obvious critique of this idea would be that the Celtics already attempted to trade the third overall pick for Chicago’s star shooting guard Jimmy Butler. So evidently Ainge isn’t immediately worried about the lack of a capable front court, more so with just finding the right pieces and committing to a long rebuild. Maybe that’s why he’s the general manager, and I’m just a columnist.