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University of California's Jaylen Brown
With the 2016 NBA Draft roughly 82 days away, the latest mock drafts are coming out hot and heavy. The Celtics own three picks in the first round, so Danny Ainge and the Boston front office are flexible in the direction they take in the draft.

Regardless of how the Brooklyn Nets finish their last three games, the Celtics will have the third or fourth best odds at winning the draft lottery on May 17. With the Nets' final three games being on the road against the Pacers, and then at home against the Wizards and Raptors, losing out is definitely not out of the realm of possibility, making the third worst record in the NBA right in reach.

At the moment, DraftExpress expects Boston to take University of California forward Jaylen Brown, with the fourth pick. A dynamic small forward with explosiveness and athleticism out of the gym, Brown has the ability to step in right away and give quality minutes as a rookie. Though his jump shot needs work, Brown has the potential to be a dominant player in the league in a few years. With Ainge almost trading the lot of draft picks last summer for a player similar to Brown in Justice Winslow, it's very possible for the Celts to take a hard look at the forward out of Cal with the Brooklyn pick.

Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Dragan Bender, and Buddy Hield are also expected to be available around the C's first pick, which all fit the Celtics' needs more so than Brown. With Jae Crowder already on roster, it's possible they look elsewhere for a shooter or defensive minded big man. Unless the ping pong balls fall in Boston's favor and Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram fall into our laps, I expect one of the previous players to end up in green.

Boston owns the rights to the Mavericks' first rounder, which would be the 16th pick if the season ended today. DraftExpress expects Boston to take Vanderbilt's Wade Baldwin with the pick. In his sophomore season, the point guard averaged 14.1 PPG, 4 RPG, and 5.2 APG, along with a 20.8 PER.

Denzel Valentine, Tyler Ulis, Domantas Sabonis, and Skal Labissiere are also players likely to be available around this pick. Thon Maker, the YouTube sensation 7-footer out of Australia could also be enticing for the Celtics to take a shot on if he's available.

University of Maryland's Diamond Stone
With the club's own pick, DraftExpress predicts Maryland freshman star Diamond Stone to end up in green. After a slow start, Stone finished with an impressive season for the Terrapins, where he became the go-to big man for the Terrapins averaging 12.4 PPG and 5.5 RPG, along with an astounding 27.7 PER. With Boston needing a reliable center, taking Stone this late in the first round would be a steal for the team in the near future.

DraftExpress lists several international prospects around the 23rd pick, so this selection will likely be a tricky one. With two previous choices with more proven assets, Boston might be willing to take a shot on one of the low risk/high reward players expected to be taken in the late first/early second round such as Brice Johnson, Melo Trimble, or Cheick Diallo.

With eight total selections in the draft, it is almost a certainty there will be a few trades made by the front office on draft night. Could the Celtics package several choices to move up and select someone that better fits the team's needs? Or could they not draft a player at all in the first round and trade the picks for a proven superstar like DeMarcus Cousins or Kevin Love?

Regardless of how the draft unfolds, there's a good chance the Celtics will have two additional high-profile guys on the roster heading into next season via the draft, free agency, or through trades. 



Jaylen Brown photo: Ben Margot, Associated Press
Diamond Stone photo: Mitch Stringer, USA Today

For more Celtics news, follow Jack Pilgrim's Twitter account @Jack_Pilgrim.

Jack Pilgrim 4/09/2016 07:45:00 PM Edit
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