The Boston Celtics won the lottery and will be picking first in the NBA Draft next month.
Winning the lottery is very exciting and it’s cool to break down possible trade rumors, but it’s pretty much going to be Markelle Fultz who gets taken first overall if a trade doesn’t happen.
A bigger mystery is what the Celtics are going to do with their second pick of the night, which is currently slotted at 37th overall. The pick originally belonged to the Minnesota Timberwolves but Boston acquired it when they sent Brandon Wright to the Phoenix Suns during the 2014-15 season. There are a ton of talented players who will still be on the board, a lot of them names that any college basketball fan will recognize from either March Madness or any type of awards show.
While the Celtics could easily walk away with a college star thanks to the 37th overall pick, a lot of these players have flaws that have made them out to be early second round picks. Luckily, Boston isn’t in need of a player who will come in and be an NBA star with this pick as all of these guys could be able to jump into a lineup and become a role player right off the bat.
Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue
You’ll see a lot of Jared Sullinger in Swanigan, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Celtics fans out there who were glad to see Sullinger go last summer. Swanigan is big, slow and a little on the heavier side…but oh man can this guy rebound. His 28 double-doubles last season led all Division I players as he finished the season averaging 18.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 3.0 APG; this was good enough to take home Big Ten Player of the Year honors. While he can rebound and is a very strong team player on the offensive end like Sullinger, defense can sometimes be an issue. Swanigan isn’t a strong shot blocker and his slow foot speed makes it tough for him to switch on the pick-and-roll. With Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko set for free agency, Kelly Olynyk set to become a restricted free agent and a team option in Tyler Zeller’s contract, it would be pretty easy to find a spot for Swanigan on the Celtics roster.
Dillon Brooks, PF/SF, Oregon
Brooks is the second Player of the Year from a major conference who will be in play for the Celtics at 37. The Canadian forward was named First Team All-Pac-12 as a sophomore during the 2015-16 campaign and was able to build on that by taking home the conference’s biggest honor despite seeing his minutes drop from 32.8 per game to just 25.3. This was because an offseason foot surgery forced him to miss the first few games of the season and often limited him at times. It’s pretty good though to see him make such a huge impact in fewer minutes though because Brooks will be a bench player wherever he winds ups. He could be a good replacement for Gerald Green on the very back end of Boston’s rotation. Basketball IQ is his biggest question mark right now. Brooks takes a lot of bad fouls, has questionable shot selection at times while some scouts are concerned over both his size and speed.
Johnathan Motley, C/PF, Baylor
Some draft boards would consider this as a pipe dream whiles others – including DraftExpress – have Motley falling to the point where he’ll be in play for the Celtics. Motley took home the Karl Malone Award – which is given out annually to the nation’s best power forward – and he was also a consensus Second Team All-American. The 6’11” big man was a great all around threat for the Bears last year, averaging 17.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.1 BPG. Motley’s ability to run the floor as well as strong passing abilities made him a big threat in transition. He’s very turnover prone once opponents hit him with the double-team and he can’t score much from outside the paint, but his length and athleticism make him both a great rebounder and rim protector.
Semi Ojeleye, PF/SF, Southern Methodist
Yet another conference Player of the Year makes this list, but I’ll leave it up to you on whether or not the American Athletic Conference falls under “major” or not. Ojeleye played two years at Duke but couldn’t get consistent minutes off the bench so he moved to SMU and became a star after sitting out his transfer year. His size and speed are often questioned – just like with Dillon Brooks – but at least Brooks played alongside big men Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell at Oregon, allowing him to play both forward spots throughout his career. The 6’7″ Ojeleye was purely a power forward on the Mustangs smaller team and he’s going to have to learn to play that second position in the NBA. This kid can score though. He averaged 18.9 PPG on 48.8% shooting last year with a 42.4% mark from beyond the arc.
Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso
Boston should be in the running to sign 2010 Horizon League Player of the Year Gordon Hayward this summer, but they could also draft the reigning winner of that award in Peters. He’s arguably the best player in this draft from a mid-major conference after Gonzaga center Zach Collins, who should be a lottery pick in this year’s draft. The 6’9″ forward can stretch the floor and shot 41.6% from beyond the arc over his four years of college while he averaged 23.0 PPG and 10.1 RPG as a senior. Peters does seem to be going under the radar a bit after a stress fracture forced him to miss the final part of last season and he was also held out of the combine last week. While we weren’t able to see him in the NCAA tournament this past season, his stellar numbers did hold up in non-conference play against power conference opponents. Peters had 24 points against Oregon last year, 23 against Kentucky and posted a 24 points, 12 rebound double-double in an upset win against Alabama.