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The NBA Draft Combine is currently in full swing in Chicago, and news of Boston's possible future plans are coming out in full force.

According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, the C's have quite the list of talent they wish to speak to during the interview process.

Here is the full list of players the Celtics have interviewed or are scheduled to interview, according to the source: Kay Felder (Oakland), Diamond Stone (Maryland), Jaylen Brown (California), Wade Baldwin (Vanderbilt), Pascal Siakam (New Mexico State), Deyonta Davis (Michigan State), Jamal Murray (Kentucky), Zhou Qi (China), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Brandon Ingram (Duke), Malachi Richardson (Syracuse), Patrick McCaw (UNLV), Chinanu Onuaku (Louisville), Damian Jones (Vanderbilt), Malik Newman (Mississippi State), Cat Barber (North Carolina State), Cheick Diallo (Kansas), Thon Maker (high school), Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin), Jakob Poeltl (Utah).

Players such as Brandon Ingram, Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown, and Buddy Hield being interviewed and worked out give us a slight indication of where Boston is leaning in terms of the Brooklyn pick, one that will likely fall in the top five. With a 15.6% chance of the #1 selection and nearly 50% odds at a top three choice, anything is possible for the Celtics, and these candidates prove that. Ben Simmons is not participating in the Combine, and Brandon Ingram is in the opposite corner of the 1-2 punch no matter who wins the lottery, so the top two selections are likely etched in stone. Beyond that, however, it's a crap shoot.

The latest development out of the Celtics camp is that they have set up a private workout with Brandon Ingram in case the ping-pong balls fall in their favor on Tuesday night's Draft Lottery.


It will likely be a moot point for the workout if Boston falls out of the top three, as it's highly improbable Ingram falls out of that range. If a little luck falls in their favor, however, the C's will have the opportunity to work out both Ingram and Simmons to decide the biggest draft pick in recent history, but also hold the keys to the trade bait needed to pull in a superstar.

It's apparent the Celtics need a sharp shooting guard to step in and provide consistent scoring, and it's hard to argue with Jamal Murray or Buddy Hield filling that void for the top draft choice if it falls in the 3-5 range. Both proved throughout the season they are capable of scoring in large quantities on any given night, and you can't go wrong with either. Murray is better known as a knockdown shooter, managing to make a three-pointer in every game in his freshman campaign at Kentucky. Hield, however, carried Oklahoma on his back the entire season, providing a more flashy, dynamic scoring skill set. Either would be incredible fits for Boston if they're unable to pull in Simmons or Ingram.

Beyond the top tier prospects in the draft, several Celtics' interview candidates caught the eyes of scouts during the first few days of the Combine that could be possibilities for the C's late in the first round and into the early second.

Thon Maker is the question of the hour, with many having absolutely no clue where he'll end up on draft night. He's the type of prospect someone with desperation in hopes of expediting the rebuild process in the lottery would take him, but the general consensus around the combine is that he will likely be taken in the late first round. With eight picks in this draft, Danny Ainge made a point of emphasizing he had "eight mulligans" to fill out the roster with talent to help move the team to contention in the Eastern Conference. With high risk, yet extremely high reward, Maker fits the mold of that criteria for the Celtics. The C's have three draft picks in the first round, and if the seven-footer out of Sudan falls into their laps with possibly the 16th pick and certainly #23, I wouldn't put it past Ainge to take a shot on him. NBA executives believe Maker is two or three years out from being a major contributor in the league, but when his frame fills out and his skill set develops, he could be a scary player for Boston in the future.

Cheick Diallo told several NBA teams in interviews today that he is planning on staying in the draft this year, and it's possible he will be available with Boston's own pick at #23. He has impressed scouts at the Combine with his incredible length and ability to run the floor, and turned many heads during scrimmages with sensational outings. If he's still available at #23 or slips into the early second round at #31, the C's could pull the trigger on him.

Aside from the obvious grouping of top five talent, what Boston decides to do with their surplus of draft picks may not be drafting a specific player at all. Obviously they will make an attempt with a trade centered around the Brooklyn pick for a star-caliber talent, but if nothing comes about, Ainge may draft someone with the Brooklyn pick and package various remaining picks to move up in the draft or for a quality veteran player. Eight draft picks is all well and good, but the Celtics don't have room for eight players on the roster next season, so some type of movement is almost guaranteed to occur on draft night.

On Tuesday, the level of future success for the Celtics is relying on the lucky bounce of a few ping-pong balls. A top two selection can change the entire dynamic of the team moving forward, as they have the option of choosing between a pair of future stars or trading for a proven All-Star talent. The acquisition of a major piece on draft night can pave the way for luring free agents to Boston and placing the team in immediate contention of a title.

Needless to say, keep your eyes peeled as the Combine continues, but most importantly on ESPN Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. ET, as the Draft Lottery is a big one for Boston.

Brandon Ingram photo: Mark Dolejs, USA TODAY Sports


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

Jack Pilgrim 5/13/2016 09:47:00 PM Edit
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