The Boston Celtics were under the media microscope ever since the franchise made a trade earlier this week with the Philadelphia 76ers to exchange 2017 first round picks and for Boston to gain an additional first round pick in either 2018 (from the Los Angeles Lakers) or 2019 (from the Sacramento Kings or the 76ers).
Basketball fans, Celtics’ fans especially, were curious as to why Boston would make that trade to move down in a draft packed with talented point guards.
Some of the curiosity also was pointed towards what Boston would do with the #3 pick now that they made the trade to acquire that right. There were numerous parties that wondered if the Celtics would draft a player, trade the pick again for more future assets, or use the pick to acquire a marquee free agent like Indiana forward Paul George or Chicago forward Jimmy Butler.
When Thursday night came, the Celtics did something quite normal for the NBA draft: pick a player.
With the #3 pick, the Celtics picked Duke forward Jayson Tatum.
The majority of the media believed that Boston should have taken Kansas forward Josh Jackson since he was the best player available after Washington guard Markelle Fultz and UCLA guard Lonzo Ball were taken with the #1 and #2 picks, respectively.
Like most NBA draftees, Tatum has his strengths and weaknesses.
Jayson’s strengths include: being able to score the basketball, having NBA-ready size and length (6’8″, 205 lbs), and offering versatility because of his above average athleticism.
Tatum’s weaknesses include: not an accurate enough shooter from 3-point land despite improving his shot (34%), needing more strength (205 lbs), and not being a great defender as of now.
Given how most NBA personnel have saved about Tatum’s potential to be a big-time scorer and excellent two-way player, I would say that this was a great pick for a team that wants to dethrone the Cleveland Cavaliers as champs of the Eastern Conference.
As far as the rest of the draft is concerned, Boston had 3 other picks in the NBA draft and all three we in the second round (#37, #53, and #56).
With those 3 picks, the Celtics chose SMU forward Semi Ojeleye, Arizona guard Kadeem Allen, and California guard Jabari Bird with the #37, #53, and #56 picks, respectively.
Ojeleye has an NBA body (6’7″, 241 lbs), talented scorer (19 PPG, 49% FG, and 42% 3FG), and a good rebounder (7 RPG). However, he is undersized for the power forward position and he has to improve a lot as a defender.
Allen is considered an underrated player who has a competitive streak and defensive mentality that could allow him to be better than projections. However, he is a tweener who is too small to be a shooting guard and is not a pure point guard. His role in the NBA depends on what style of play he can commit to.
Bird has the size (6’6″) and athleticism to stick around in the NBA, but does not have enough of an all-around game to covet a roster spot. He also needs to develop more of a motor givem his lack of rebounds and steals in college.
Overall, given that Boston got their guy with the #3 pick and did not overreach to acquire Jimmy Butler, my grade for their draft 2017 is a B.