The 2019 NBA Draft occurred on Thursday night, and of course, the Boston Celtics were very active. Here’s what I think about their selections and moves on draft night.
14th Pick- Romeo Langford (SG/SF, Indiana)
This is a decent pick. At the beginning of his freshman year, Langford was projected to be a top 5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. However, his stock dropped after the season. The former ESPN 5th overall recruit averaged 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and almost 1 steal and 1 block per game at Indiana. His three-point percentage was extremely poor, at 27%, but this could be attributed to the fact that he played with a thumb injury for the majority of the year. Although Langford may not be the most polished player coming into the league, he definitely has the potential to be a future all-star. I actually believe that he is better than Jaylen Brown when Brown was drafted. Not only does this pick bring in talent, but it provides the Celtics with a greater opportunity to make a big trade. Bringing in a wing-like Langford provides the Celtics with a lot of depth at that position and could make it easier and more likely for the Celtics to part with Brown or Gordon Hayward and bring in a stud.
20th Pick- Traded to the Philadelphia for the 24th and 33rd picks in 2019
The Celtics apparently didn’t really see many players they really wanted at the 20th pick, so they traded it to the Sixers for the 24th and 33rd picks. With the 20th pick, the Sixers selected Matthias Thybulle, a small forward out of Washington. I think this is a decent trade overall. The Celtics only moved back four picks and were able to get a high second rounder in the process. Also, the fact that they got a steal with the 33rd pick makes this trade seems even better. This is a minor trade, but a good one, nonetheless.
22nd Pick- Grant Williams (F, Tennessee)
Williams has had a great college career, winning the SEC Player of the Year Award in 2018 and 2019 and a consensus first-team All-American selection in 2019. Last season, he averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and just over 1 steal per game. His greatest strengths are his defensive abilities, toughness, feel for the game and awareness, and craftiness and ability to score inside. Williams is also a mature player, a hard-worker, and a great locker room guy. Despite this, I do not like this pick. Williams isn’t a particularly good three-point shooter, although the potential is there. He is undersized for a power forward at 6’7”, and is not very quick. This really limits his upside as a player, and while Williams was a star in college, part of me wonders if he can excel in the NBA with bigger and faster players. I honestly dislike this pick. It is a reach for a guy who probably would’ve been available later on and who doesn’t really fit a position and may not fit in the NBA.
24th Pick- Traded to the Phoenix Suns along with Aron Baynes for a 2020 1st round pick
This was the Celtics’ second trade of the night, and it was a much bigger one. On the surface, it seems terrible, considering the pick than the Celtics are getting in return is actually the Milwaukee Bucks first rounder in 2020, which the Suns got in the Eric Bledsoe trade. This pick will most likely be a very late first because the Bucks will probably be a great team again next year. It seems on the surface that the Celtics are trading a valuable role player in Baynes and a pick for a worse pick. However, this deal has its benefits for the Celtics. It opens up over $5 million in cap space for the Celtics next year and puts them on track to have well over $30 million in cap space next year. I would’ve liked to have used Baynes as a salary filler in a trade for a top level talent, and I think it’s tough to give up such a solid role player for a lower pick. This trade will definitely be a success if the Celtics are able to use their cap space to sign a guy such as D’Angelo Russell to a max deal, but as of now, I’d say it is around an average deal. If the Celtics do sign a max Guy this off-season, the trade will increase in value but it’ll decrease in value greatly if they don’t.
33rd Pick- Carsen Edwards (PG, Purdue)
This is the steal of the entire draft. Edwards has proven to be an elite scorer during his time at Purdue. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2018 and 2019 and a consensus second-team All-American in 2019. Last year, Edwards averaged 24.2 points, 2.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. His biggest strengths are his exceptional shooting, being arguably the best 3 point shooter in this draft class, and his ability to drive the lane and finish at the basket. The most likely reason that Edwards dropped this far is because of his size. At 6’1”, many scouts were probably wary of his stature. This shouldn’t matter though as players like Chris Paul, Kemba Walker, Fred Van Vleet, Kyle Lowry, and Isaiah Thomas, among others, have shown that they can be great scorers and overall players despite being either smaller or the same size as Edwards. The best part about this outstanding pick is that Edwards’ arrival could send Terry Rozier out the door in free agency, and that is really something I’d love to see.
51st Pick- Tremont Waters (PG, LSU)
This is another point guard selection and another hopeful sign that Rozier’s time in Boston is coming to an abrupt end. Waters had an outstanding two-year career at LSU, making the first team All-SEC in 2019 and winning the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 as well. He averaged 15.3 points, 5.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.9 steals per game last year. His biggest strengths are his court vision, passing, and playmaking, his ball handling, quickness, and shiftiness, and his defense. Again, scouts were concerned about his height (similar to Edwards). Waters stands at only 5’11”. I believe that he can actually be a helpful piece for the Celtics in the coming years. Waters reminds me a lot of former Celtic point guard Shane Larkin. Both are the same height and both can come off of the bench in a depth role, and put forth valuable minutes when needed. Waters has a quick first step, decent range on his jumper and quick feet and hands defensively. I would’ve preferred the Celtics went with the higher potential guard in Jalen Lecque or went with a solid big man in Jontay Porter, but I like this pick also.
In my opinion, this Celtics draft as a whole wasn’t perfect, but it was slightly above average. The Celtics got a mix of players with great potential and players that can come in and contribute right away. The drafting of Langford opens up trade possibilities and the drafting of the two point guards could result in the departure of the worst Celtic last year. Although I really dislike the Williams pick, it could also signify that the Celtics are looking for more trades, maybe using Guerschon Yabusele or Semi Ojeleye as fillers. In addition, I really wanted the Celtics to make a big move on draft night, and that didn’t happen. I guess I should’ve expected that considering the Celtics under Danny Ainge rarely take risks on the day of the draft. Trading for a Bradley Beal, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jrue Holiday, or Blake Griffin would have strengthened the team so much more in my opinion. Some good things I liked Draft was that the Celtics passed on Brandon Clarke, the undersized power forward out of Gonzaga, who was the one guy I said I didn’t want the Celtics to pick. I also like that the Celtics cleared cap space for a max free agent. Hopefully, they can bring in Russell to man the backcourt when Kyrie Irving leaves. I also acknowledge that the Celtics still have a ton of assets, a lot of wing depth, and are still very much in play to make a trade for a star player in the next coming days. I’m excited to see how free agency treats them beginning next Sunday!
Overall Grade: B- (but could increase a lot with trades and FA signings brought from this draft)
*Photo: Boston Herald