If there was a draft where you would want to stockpile later first-rounders, this is the one. There is great depth and value to be had in the range outside of the lottery. That is exactly why some San Antonio Spurs fans and talking heads (myself included) are pitching a trade with the Boston Celtics.
It would net the Spurs more options later in the draft to better address needs rather than draft the best player who may not match a team need.
It is a perfect match as the Celtics need another legitimate big who can score — enter LaMarcus Aldridge — while the Spurs wouldn’t mind getting some extra picks and moving down in the draft. The Celtics have the 14th, 26th and 30th picks, which could be traded for the 11th and Aldridge and maybe some other combo of players.
Should the Celtics and Spurs pull off this trade, here are some of the players that the Black and Silver should be targeting:
The 6-foot-7 and 218-pound forward is a great defensive player, winning the PAC-12’s Defensive Player of the Year award this past season. He moves extremely and is a smart defender. He is a solid athlete, but hasn’t shown us anything too flashy. He does enough to get the job done, but will have to show more of what he can do on the offensive end.
This 6-foot-10, 270-pound behemoth is one of my favorite players in this draft. He works hard, runs the floor and uses all of his weight when he gets the ball in the post. He has a couple good moves in the post and can score on the move. He has stretch big potential and is a lefty — something Spurs fans can appreciate — who could lend some help on the defensive end.
This 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward is one of the toughest guys in this draft. He is relentless on the boards, knows how to use his strength, and has a ridiculous 7-foot-4 wingspan. He’s still pretty raw, but has shown potential to step out and shoot it with encouraging free throw numbers. He played a zone defense in college so it remains to be seen how he might fare in more one-on-one action defensively.
The 6-foot-10, 200-pound forward has some clear skills as a ball handler and shooter at his size. However, he sorely lacks consistency as he could be a 30-point scorer one night, but turn around and score just five points the next game. Some of that will come with putting on weight and getting more reps, but he has plenty to improve on.
A sneaky good 6-foot-11, 240-pound center. He’s comfortable in the mid-range, he moves his feet well, has a great motor, and is a strong offensive rebounder. Nnaji can get out and guard on the perimeter in spurts when a switch is required. He might have the quickest route to being an outside threat among these options.
The 6-foot-10, 225-pound big man held his own against some of the best back-to-the-basket players in the country in the Big Ten. He expanded his range and became one of the better shooters on a team that was in desperate need of them. He will have to add some lower body weight to bang with the big boys in the NBA, but he is trending in the right direction ahead of the draft.