BOSTON – For Boston basketball fans, the NBA draft just crept up on everyone. The Celtics are no longer relying on future first-round picks, and are instead enjoying the benefits of all past first-round picks, realizing their full potential on the ground.
With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and company leading the Celtics to the NBA Finals – a run that ended just a week ago – the NBA draft in Boston was pretty much an afterthought. Add in Brad Stevens, who has swapped the team’s first-round picks in each of the last two years, and there really isn’t much to get excited about.
Stevens gave away Boston’s first-round pick in the 2021 draft to bring back Al Horford (and get Kemba Walker’s deal off the books), and he parted with the team’s 2022 first-round pick in the Derrick White trade with the Spurs close. So what do the Celtics have to work with on draft night?
Just one pick: No. 53 overall in the second round. This isn’t going to upset anyone too much to block their Thursday night.
And with a solid core of Tatum, Brown, Robert Williams and Marcus Smart, the Celtics really don’t need young players in the roster anymore. Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard are still developing in their reserve roles, while Aaron Nesmith continues to try to carve out a role of his own. Boston will look to add strong shooting and playmaking off the bench this offseason after the team fell just two wins short of a title. A rookie—especially a second-round pick—doesn’t typically fit on every team.
If Stevens makes any choice at all Thursday night, he’ll likely be looking to add a project pick at No. 53. Here are a handful of players who see the false writers as potential contenders for the Celtics with their only pick in the 2022 NBA draft:
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated: Tyrese Martin, G/F, UConn
The 6-foot-6 Martin spent his final two years at UConn after beginning his collegiate career at URI. As a senior for the Huskies, he averaged a career-best 13.6 points, less than 45 percent on shooting, to go with 7.5 rebounds per game.
Sam Vencenie, The Athlete: Jared Rhoden, G, Seton Hall
Rhoden, also 6ft 6, played four years at Seton Hall and averaged 10.4 points and 5.5 rebounds throughout his collegiate career. As a senior, he averaged 15.5 points per game and had 39 percent of his shots off the ground.
Jonathan Giveny, ESPN: Gabriele Procida, G, Italy
The 20-year-old averaged 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds for Fortitudo Bologna in Italy last season, shooting 38.3 percent from three-pointers.
Krysten Peek, Yahoo Sports: Collin Gillespie, G, Villanova
Gillespie was floor general for Jay Wright at Villanova for five years, utilizing an extra year of eligibility granted to players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He averaged 15.6 points and 3.1 assists in 2022, was named Big East Player of the Year, and won the Bob Cousy Award for Best Point Guard in College Basketball.
Bryan Kalbrosky, USA Today: Ron Harper Jr., Wings, Rutgers
Harper Jr. played four years at Rutgers and started 109 of his 121 games in his collegiate career. He shot 44 percent overall and 40 percent from three-point range for the Scarlett Knights, averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. He averaged 15.8 points per game and earned second-team All-Big 10 honors as a senior in 2022.
He is the son of Ron Harper, who won five NBA titles (three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the LA Lakers) during his professional career.
NBA Draft.net: Michael Foster, PF, G League
Foster was a 2021 McDonald’s All-American and a five-star Arizona prep school recruit and was originally scheduled to go to Arizona State. But he pulled out and instead joined the G League, where he played for the Ignite. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over 30.5 minutes per game for Ignite.
Foster is only 19 and appears to have plenty of raw talent but will take time to mature at lower levels.