When your team stinks, nothing beats thinking about ways for them to get better. In the Celtics case that means investigating trades and breaking down the upcoming NBA draft.

Boston has two picks this season — their own and whatever is worse between the Nets and Hawks picks — likely giving them one lottery pick, and one pick in the low 20s.

At the moment, those picks project to be #4 and #20 overall (if the lottery plays out in it's most likely scenario).

And per usual, ESPN's Chad Ford is on top of things, releasing his mock draft 2.0 this afternoon. Ford has the "Big Three" — Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker – off the board by the time the Celtics make their pick, and has the Cs taking Australian guard Dante Exum at #4. Here's his write up.

The Celtics' biggest need is in the middle. Kelly Olynyk was their draft choice last year, but he's more of a stretch 4. But there aren't a lot of those players in the draft after Embiid, which is partly what makes him so valuable. The Celtics could go with Julius Randle here, but with Jared Sullinger playing so well, the need for a physical frontcourt player isn't as pressing. The Celtics' backcourt is pretty set with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, but that wouldn't stop the Celtics. General manager Danny Ainge is a fan of Exum, Rondo's future in Boston is perpetually in doubt and while Bradley has been good, Exum might be an upgrade long-term.

Exum, who is 6'6", 190 pounds, has always played the point but could be moved to the 2 depending on the team he ends up on. As Ford notes, the Celts backcourt appears to be set, but they could always trade Rondo, not re-sign Bradley, or see how the trio works together next season before making a decision on the future.

Personally I'd strongly consider Aaron Gordon if the Top 3 are off the board, a super athlete at the small forward position who should continue to develop as a scorer (averaging 13 PPG for Arizona) and is already a phenomenal defender and rebounder. Gordon doesn't turn 19 until next September, and has a 7' wingspan as a SF that will have NBA scouts drooling.

Another guy I like: Dario Saric, the 6'10" small forward who can score, pass and rebound.

But one thing we know with Ainge is that he's going to take the guy he likes the best, regardless of what the Celtics 'position of need' is (currently: SF and C).

With their second pick, Ford has the Celtics taking Chris Walker, a small forward from the University of Florida who is currently academically ineligible.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge has a thing for high school phenoms, and Walker qualifies. He's been forced to sit out all season because of NCAA academic issues, and even if he does become eligible, it's unlikely he will play a major role at Florida. He's raw as a basketball player, but he has elite physical tools. For a team that's willing to be patient and let him develop, he's a pretty good get this late in the draft.

Walker may never play for the Gators, which would not exactly speak well for his draft stock (remember Ricky Ledo falling to the mid-second round after not playing a minute for Providence last season?), but he's another athletic freak (6'9", 7'2" wingspan) who does play to Ainge's "high school phenom fetish" as Ford points out.

If Ainge does get a stud at the top of the draft, don't be surprised to see him take a chance at #20. Walker has top ten talent but will undoubtedly fall if he ends up missing the whole season, something that wouldn't likely scare Ainge away.

Who would you take at #4? How about at #20? Let us know in the comment section. With the Celtics sitting at 14-29 and running half a D-League line-up out there..let's drown our sorrows in some actual fun basketball talk.

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Michael Dyer 1/22/2014 05:28:00 PM Edit
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