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The Brooklyn Nets are, as predicted, terrible.

After a short stretch of defying the odds (and expert opinion), the Nets have fallen back to earth with a thud, making the hearts of Boston Celtics fans everywhere full of glee, and the hearts of Brooklyn fans - wait, are there still any Brooklyn fans?

I kid. Apologies to the Nets fan, I'm sure they're pretty pissed off at me, but there's plenty to be happy about for that squad, with a good new coach in Kenny Atkinson, and a quality management team in place headed by former San Antonio Borg - er, Spurs Assistant Coach Sean Marks.

Just not this year, and maybe next year too, which suits us just fine.

Boston, who, in case you've been hiding deep in some jungle somewhere for the last three years, has the right to swap picks this year with the Nets and own the Nets pick outright next year. This was part of a group of three picks traded to the team by Nets ex-GM Billy King, which began to be cashed in this summer, when the team selected Jaylen Brown in the 2016 NBA Draft with Brooklyn's pick. This insane windfall was the compensation for arguably the most lopsided trade in modern NBA history after Danny Ainge decided to blow up the aging core of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce after Ray Allen's departure.

Brown, who - barring a few stellar nights - had an uneven start to his rookie campaign, but has recently started to show more consistent signs of the star potential he was drafted for, and Celtics fans have been daydreaming about who the next two Nets picks might bring. Before the draft, arguments over whether Dragan Bender, Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield or Kris Dunn should have been selected third were a staple on Celtics media publications and their comment sections alike.


It's still pretty early, but it seems like Danny made the right call, with only Murray looking like a player who could contribute to a fairly balanced Celtics roster, and project to have the same level of potential as when drafted. Dunn has also shown flashes and Hield and Bender are not terrible, but all three have some work ahead of them to reach the lofty heights some had placed them in pre-draft.

Currently, the Nets sit in the basement of the league at 8 - 24, a full game behind the Philadelphia 76ers. If the season ended today, the 2017 first round Nets pick would have a 25% chance of landing in the first slot, 21.51% odds to get the second slot, and a 17.77% chance of coming in at the third slot. Combined, that's a 64.28% chance of a top-three pick. Who, then, should the Celts be keeping tabs on?

Expect more detailed analysis as the draft draws nearer and the current college season gets more run, but for now, three prospects stand out, and one more may be worth following depending on how the Nets - and said prospect pan out this year:



1. Lonzo Ball - At present, Ball looks like the likely first pick, mostly due to his Rajon Rondo-like court vision and play-making, excellent defense, and size. At six foot-six with a wide frame capable of putting on muscle, the only thing holding Ball back from the top slot is his ugly jumper and the unplayed schedule of his two most likely competitors for the first pick, to whom we now turn.



2. Markell Fultz - Able to play either the one or two, Fultz's freakish athleticism, speed and crafty passing are putting him in the conversation for the #1 pick, though his less-than-ideal jumper and occasional poor decision-making remain as obstacles to getting there. Keep an eye on this guy as the college season unfolds.



3. Josh Jackson - a modern-day NBA's ideal swingman, able to play the two or three with elite athleticism and good instincts and the rebounding and rim protection skills to move to four if he can add some bulk in the next six-plus months. Like the first two candidates, Jackson needs to work on his jumper and also his handle, but has top-tier star potential if he can he overcome a fairly minimal number of issues. My personal pick if Giles' knees don't work out.

At present, none of the three most likely options fill positions of need, though the potential star power is so high, a trade on or after draft night may make the selection moot - as would a pre-deadline trade involving players currently on this season's squad. One other player to keep an eye on should their stock (or Brooklyn's record) surge: Harry Giles.



In a perfect world, Giles knees would be solid, and Boston would get the first pick, selecting Harry. Giles, who was more or less a lock for the top slot before tearing his ACL yet again after three previous operations on his knees, possesses - possessed? unearthly athleticism and mobility for a big man, with rebounding abilities suggesting an Andre-Drummond-like ability to pull down boards and a solid jumper with transition perimeter scoring potential. He'd almost certainly have gone first this summer if he stayed healthy. The repeated knee surgeries have scared many off, but if cleared by a doctor, Boston should consider swinging for the fences if a top-five pick is off the table.

What are your thoughts on these players? Are there any others the Celts should be watching out for? Let us know in the comments - highlight reels and stats appreciated.

For more stories about the Nets picks on Celticslife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.





Photo via libertycitys.com
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 1/04/2017 04:22:00 PM Edit
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