As currently constructed, the Boston Celtics are an extremely guard-heavy team, and while the Celtics’ young guards will be a critical part of the teams’ future, they desperately need front court depth. The Celtics have A LOT of trade assets, including a multitude of draft picks over the next three season, which can be used to trade up in this year’s NBA Draft, one that is rich with front court talent. Danny Ainge and the Boston front office will likely wait until after seeing how the draft lottery shakes out to decide if they will trade up or draft where they are, but regardless, the Celtics will have a chance to upgrade their front court, so let’s take a look at potential options.
1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke
This one is a long shot, but this is by far the best front court, and overall, player in this year’s draft. Okafor is a dominant 6’11 freshman out of Duke, and likely the number one overall pick come draft time. The center is averaging 18.1 points per game, along with 9.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Okafor was the most highly touted freshman coming into the season, and he has lived up to the hype in every possible way. He has been unstoppable on offense this season, and a crucial part of the Blue Devil defense. You can make the case that without him, Duke would not be anywhere near their current level of play.
While the Celtics would obviously be ecstatic to land Okafor, it would be an extremely difficult process, as Okafor is a sure-fire number one overall pick. The Celtics have done a very good job of acquiring picks over the last few seasons, and they could attempt to package those together and make a run at the number one pick, which will likely land in Minnesota. It may be hard to pry that pick away from the Timberwolves, as a potential young core of Andrew Wiggins and Jahlil Okafor is extremely appealing, but if the Celtics can somehow acquire the pick, Okafor is their best draft option at center.
2. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
While he’s no Jahlil Okafor, landing Willie Cauley-Stein is a much more realistic option for the Boston Celtics. If you watch Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein, it’s clear that though he has potential, he is very underdeveloped on the offensive end of the floor. On the other side, something that should have Celtics fans excited, Cauley-Stein is one of the best defensive big men in all of college basketball. He is averaging 8.7 points per contest, as well as 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
Over the last few seasons, the Boston Celtics have had an extremely guard-heavy roster, leading to poor post defense. Adding Cauley-Stein to the lineup would instantly shore things up in that area. Combine his defensive intensity and ability with the ability of the likes of Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley, and this could be a dangerous team in years to come. It all depends on how the Celtics finish the season, but as of right now, Cauley-Stein could fall right into the Celtics hands in the draft. If not, they could easily trade up with their abundance of picks to select him.
3. Myles Turner, Texas
Turner, like Okafor, was a highly touted freshman coming into this season. Turner is 6′ 11, and like the others on this list, could provide the size and shot blocking ability the Celtics need. Unlike Cauley-Stein and Okafor, Turner is an excellent offense player. Granted, Okafor is a terrific scorer in the paint, but Turner does something that Okafor doesn’t: he shoots the ball extremely well.
While Turner will likely have a big impact in the NBA, he wouldn’t be the first choice for the Boston Celtics. If you look at his skill set: shooting touch, size, and basketball IQ, it reminds you of a current Boston Celtic: Kelly Olynyk. The two are very similar players, both having the skill set previously mentioned, as well as a lack of athleticism and explosiveness. The Celtics need an athletic big man to fill the lane and block shots, and that’s not Turner’s game. If the other two are off the board, the Celtics may go to Turner, but at this point, I like Cauley-Stein to land in Boston.
This post was originally posted on Prime Time Sports, a sports blog providing in-depth analysis from the world of sports.