After a Grizzlies loss to the Spurs and a Kings loss to the Warriors last night the two teams have been reeling a bit. The Kings have lost 4 straight while the Grizzlies have lost 5 in a row and things are going downhill for a couple of the surprise teams early on in the season. Sitting at 10th and 12th in the West respectively, the focus on these teams for Celtics fans is building with the possibility of two more lottery picks (maybe 3 if the Clippers end up being pretenders) in the 2019 NBA Draft.
As you may know, the Celtics gained a top-1 protected Kings pick from the Sixers in the Markelle Fultz/Jayson Tatum deal, they also own the Grizzlies 1st round pick (top-8 protected), and lastly the Clippers first round pick (top-14 protected). Check out the pick breakdown below courtesy of Tankathon.com:
Basically, they have the 10th best lottery odds with the Memphis pick, the 13th best with the Kings pick, then the Clipper pick would convey at 22, and they’d hold their own pick at 23. In a draft where the ultimate prize is either Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett, having so many picks could be some valuable leverage on draft night.
Just watching this dunk last night caused me to start getting some ideas about what the Celtics could potentially do with all of these draft picks. Imagine that in the Garden down the stretch in a game? I honestly think if he pulled that out and I was at a game I would immediately pass out.
It is a long NBA season, and with about half the year still left, it isn’t out of the question that the Kings pick could still end up being a top 5 pick. While the Kings are only at 13th best odds right now, they are only 4 games back of Washington for 6th best odds, which would yield a 9% chance at #1, and a 37.2% chance at a top-4 selection. The Kings are such a young team and they still might be a year away or so from truly competing as we’ve seen them hit reality a bit in an extremely difficult Western Conference. The Grizzlies feel like a team that will hang around the playoff picture, but could end up being a lottery team when the season finishes up. This bodes well for the Celtics as the top-8 protected aspect of the pick shouldn’t come back to bite the Celtics in terms of it conveying.
If all 4 of these picks do end up conveying, the Celtics will be in a weird situation of maybe having too many picks in the treasure chest. When teams know they have so many picks they have the leeway to ask for a bit more. The Celtics ran into this issue in 2016 when they held the 3rd pick (Jaylen Brown), the 16th pick (Guerschon Yabusele), the 23rd pick (Ante Zizic), and the 31st pick (Deyonta Davis). They used 3 out of 4 of those picks that year as they traded the 31st, but still had a lot of rookies coming into town. At that point, they weren’t as deep of a team as they are now, but still had to draft and stash in order to use all of those picks. Zizic ended up being a piece in the Kyrie deal and obviously Jaylen and Yabu look to be a part of the future.
This year is different though in the sense that they basically have their team for years to come and adding another 4 rookies wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do. They’ve always been players in draft day trades but haven’t made a big splash for a star since Ray Allen in 2007. If any offseason was the offseason to unload all of the picks and really try to upgrade this team (wink wink Anthony Davis), this upcoming one would be it. They don’t even necessarily have to do it for a star but they will have the leverage to move up to get someone on the level of Zion, Barrett, Reddish, Morant, etc. They can get creative with it and if they do come away with all of these picks, expect Ainge to be hammering the phones trying to unload them to make an upgrade in the offseason. Until then, let’s cross our fingers and hope the losing ways of the Kings and Grizzlies continue deep into the season.
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