Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens hasn't been at the NBA level all that long but even he knows that top-3 picks don't come along very often, especially for a team like Boston that has shunned the typical lottery-chasing rebuild.
Thanks to the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics own the No. 3 pick in this year's draft. While draft gurus tend to agree that Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are the obvious top selections, things get murkier after them and that lack of separation has led some to wonder if Boston is more likely to trade the pick for established talent.
During an appearance on Boston sports radio 98.5 the Sports Hub on Thursday, Stevens emphasized the value of the No. 3 pick, regardless of how it is utilized.
"I think the biggest thing is that person [obtained via the No. 3 pick] has to ultimately be a very effective player for us," Stevens told the "Zolak and Bertrand" show. "And, obviously, if you keep the pick and you draft a younger player then there has to be some patience tied to that, and some understanding that guys are going to develop and mature at different rates, as far as their ability to impact the game in a real winning, impactful way for 82 games per season plus hopefully the playoffs.
"But if you do end up trading it, it has to be pretty impactful. There are a lot of good players that are available in this draft, in my opinion. I'm just scratching the surface of learning about each of them at a deep, deep level. But there are some good guys. And I'm excited about having the third pick. So, if we were to move it, then I would say it would have to be something pretty special to move it for."
Obviously, Celtics brass are not going to downplay the value of the No. 3 pick, especially if they do desire to utilize it in a trade. But Stevens and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge seem genuinely intrigued by the talent that will be available in the draft and, should Boston utilize the pick, the team is hellbent on finding an impact player -- even if it takes time to develop that player.
"We're not sure [what the No. 3 pick might deliver]," Ainge said. "We're not sure of the answer because there are some 22-year-olds that are more ready to play than some 19-year-olds and we're looking at all of them. There's some foreign players and some American players and we're looking at all of the above. We're trying right now very hard and we're looking at trade possibilities, so I don't have an answer for you in regard to [what type of player Boston might land]. We're working every day to try to figure out what player we're going to draft, or what player we're going to trade for or how we are going to use those [eight overall draft] picks."
Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca said the team is simply happy to be in a position where it has the No. 3 pick as a primary asset.
"It’s obviously very exciting. Danny’s done a fantastic job assembling chips," said Pagliuca. "Eight draft picks this year. A high draft pick -- I think it’s the highest we’ve had since [the new ownership group arrived]. And a robust free-agency market. ... This is probably the most complicated draft and set of situations we’ve ever been in since the very start because it’s a giant matrix of where these players are drafted, how good are they, how do they fit with the system, and what would their trade value be. So we have the right guys on the job."
Echoed co-owner Wyc Grousbeck: "It’s going to be a lot of fun. Those last few days before the draft and before free agency, the phone will be ringing nonstop. Luckily it’s Danny’s phone, not mine. But it’s going to be fun to be here, fun to be a part of it."