While the rest of the league produced at least a few fireworks throughout the 2022 NBA draft, the Celtics were one of the quietest teams. They held just the only 53rd pick, one of the last picks in the draft. Boston had traded their No. 25 overall pick to the Spurs as part of the Derrick White deal.
It was rumored that the Celtics might trade again late in the first round, but they opted to keep their fortune going forward. Boston President Brad Stevens explained after the draft why they didn’t pull the trigger on any deals during Thursday’s 58-pick draft.
“The cost of promotion was just too much for our position,” Stevens said. “Whether that was in the 20’s or even the 30’s or even the low 40’s. For us it was ok. We have a good list of guys we’re comfortable with. As the draft progressed, it became apparent that there were two or three people left on our board to choose from in the last few picks.”
Stevens added the front office has at least talked about moving up in the draft. But the price was just too high. Stevens said there will be more ways to use assets like the traded player exceptions, so it “made no sense” to use them on Thursday.
The Celtics picked former Alabama guard JD Davison, a former McDonald’s All-American and five-star prospect, with the 53rd pick. Davison is far from a polished product, but at just 19 he has plenty of athleticism and potential. Stevens said it’s up to the Celtics to smooth out the wrinkles in Davison’s game from the Summer League and beyond.
Stevens also pointed to the reality of the Celtics’ current roster. Boston made it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, losing to the Warriors in six games. The current core of the team has already been established and it is now up to Stevens to add depth to the squad. But there are also opportunities to develop some younger players further down the roster.
“We’re in a position where we have to evaluate the back end of our roster and decide what guys are here and decide who we can add through trades or through free agencies,” Stevens said. “But we’re in a position in the squad where we can also focus on the development of a young player. I think that’s important.”
The Celtics still have assets to use when free agency opens next week. The exceptions to multiple traded players that Boston have will be in the spotlight as potential ways the C’s can improve the roster. The Celtics, as currently built, are already above the luxury tax threshold. So they only have so many options to improve the squad via free agencies or the trade market.
It should be an intriguing off-season for Boston’s front office. The Celtics proved during their final run that they are title contenders, so a roster overhaul on Thursday wasn’t a realistic move. But the C’s have picked up at least one intriguing player in Davison. The 6-foot-3 guard should be a potential first-round pick midseason before falling away. Now the Celtics brought him in to fight for a spot on the squad and in the league.
“He’s not going to have a lot of pressure to come in and meet us right away or move the needle for us right away,” Stevens said of Davison. “He will be able to keep up for minutes just like everyone else. … We have a really good team. He’ll be able to fire us up a bit with his speed on both ends of the floor, which I’m looking forward to.”