The Blue Route Mock Draft: Pick #20 – Boston Celtics

With the 20th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select…

Blue Route is bringing you draft coverage leading up to the NBA draft on June 20th, 2019. The Philadelphia 76ers are slated to select 24th pick in the draft. The NBA draft often sees movement, trades and drama, so to prepare you for various potential outcomes, the Blue Route will be giving you draft profiles for the all of the likely top picks, as well as our very own mock draft.

2019 NBA Mock Draft Results
  1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson
  2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant
  3. New York Knicks – RJ Barrett
  4. Los Angeles Lakers – Jarrett Culver
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers – DeAndre Hunter
  6. Phoenix Suns – Coby White
  7. Chicago Bulls – Cam Reddish
  8. Atlanta Hawks – Sekou Doumbouya
  9. Washington Wizards – Bol Bol 
  10. Atlanta Hawks – Jaxson Hayes 
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  12. Charlotte Hornets – Darius Garland
  13. Miami Heat – PJ Washington
  14. Boston Celtics – Brandon Clarke
  15. Detroit Pistons – Rui Hachimura
  16. Orlando Magic – Goga Bitazde
  17. Atlanta Hawks – Nassir Little
  18. Indiana Pacers – Bruno Fernando
  19. San Antonio Spurs – Cam Johnson

Current State of the Boston Celtics

As Harrison detailed with pick #14, the Boston Celtics are in complete disarray. For an excellent breakdown on the current state of the Celtics, click here. While Harrison did an awesome job covering the status of the Celtics and the future of Kyrie Irving, I’ll quickly review and touch on some of Boston’s other major players.

Terry Rozier had a horrific season. “Scary Terry” came into the season with aspirations of thriving in a backup point guard role and it all fell apart. Despite playing nearly the same minutes as last year, Rozier saw major decreases in true shooting percentage, offensive/defensive win shares, box plus/minus and VORP. To make matters worse, Terry went on ESPN and stated “I sacrificed my talent” in reference to playing with Kyrie and Hayward. Yikes.

Jaylen Brown had a very disappointing season where he didn’t show many improvements across the board. Shooting wise, Jaylen really struggled to start the season (25% from 3 to start the season) and was replaced by Marcus Smart in the starting lineup. To his credit, despite a disappointing start, seemed to flourish in March and the playoffs. He took back his starting position and showed signs of becoming a potential leader in the Boston locker room.  In his exit interview, Jaylen summarized the season in a perfect way when he said “The expectation is a banner or nothing, and we came up with nothing.”

Expectations for Jayson Tatum could not have been higher heading into his second season and his numbers took a dip across the board. Tatum saw decreases in true shooting percentage (59 to 54%), three point percentage (43 to 37%), win shares (.139 to .097) and VORP (1.8 to 0.8). Tatum seemed way too fascinated with playing iso ball and shooting the mid-range jumper rather than playing within the team’s offense. 

What an inconsistent season by Gordon Hayward. As a basketball fan, it’s a real shame what that injury has done to Gordon Hayward. Hayward finished the season averaging 11.5 points per game and continued to show a lack of aggression on the court. Hayward will get paid nearly 33 million in 2019 and 34 million in 2020 until he is an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Marcus Smart had a very strong season despite an oblique injury that sidelined him at the end of the season. Smart played 80 games and finished first in the NBA in steal percentage (3.1%) and named All-Defensive First Team. The Celtics lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.  Overall for Boston, it was a whirlwind season for Celtics fans to say the least.

Looking Ahead into 2019 Free Agency

The Celtics offseason begins and ends with one question: what happens to Kyrie? Currently, all signs point towards Kyrie Irving bolting Bean Town for a different gig. In early October, Marcus Smart stated “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here” during an event at the TD Garden. That feels like an eternity ago doesn’t it? The Celtics are the only team that can offer the supermax contract.

Terry Rozier is a restricted free agent this summer and the Celtics can match any contract that gets offered. At this point, it appears that Rozier is going the offer sheet route and is expected to have a very good market this offseason. Al Horford is entering the final year of his contract and has a player option for 2019. From the outside, Al Horford has always seemed loyal to the Boston faithful and I don’t see him leaving at this point.

Sixer killer Aron Baynes has a player option for 2019 and looks likely to return. The Celtics have bird rights over Marcus Morris and I expect Boston to match any offer he receives this summer. The Celtics have the 14th, 20th and 22nd picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. Regardless of Free Agency, this is a significant draft for the Celtics moving forward.

The Selection – Talen Horton-Tucker

With the 14th pick, Harrison and the Boston Celtics selected Brandon Clarke (one of my favorite players in this draft). With the 20th pick, the Celtics select Talen Horton-Tucker, the 18 year old freshman out of Iowa State. In my opinion, the Celtics need to go back to their strengths. They need to return to the team that played stifling defense and were frustrating to play against on a quarter to quarter basis. 

The Celtics’ calling card in 2018/19 was their gritty team defense, where they finished 4th best in the regular season and 3rd best in the playoffs. Last year, they finished 9th best in the NBA and 8th best during the playoffs. Talen Horton-Tucker has great size and length and has drawn many comparisons to fellow Celtic Marcus Smart.

Talen Horton-Tucker is a guard in a small forward’s body who plays like a point guard. He’s a solid spot up shooter and has one of the higher ceilings of players who are projected to be selected in the mid to late first round. With so many question marks and contracts in the air between Terry Rozier and Kyrie Irving, Horton-Tucker would be a solid addition and great fallback plan for the Celtics to groom for the future.

Rookie Prediction

Talen Horton-Tucker has room to grow offensively. He must show progress with his shooting during private workouts because his offensive efficiency numbers weren’t the greatest. 47%  efficiency field goal percentage, 63% from the free throw line and 31% from 3 is nothing to write home about. According to the Stepien, Talen Horton-Tucker made 37 of 117 shots from NBA three point range this past season.

Next season will be a year of learning for Talen Horton-Tucker. This is a raw prospect that needs to be given some time to get a feel for the pace and speed of the NBA. With so many picks, the Celtics are able to roll the dice a bit and shoot for a player that has a higher ceiling. I expect Horton-Tucker to make much of an impact during rookie season.