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A few days ago, the draft looked real simple for the Boston Celtics. Owning the first overall selection and having many positive interactions with the consensus No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz made it look like it would be an easy and straight-forward decision on Thursday night. A pick swap with the Sixers, in which the Celtics slid down to the No. 3 pick, left many wondering what the hell Danny Ainge will do next.

While Boston could easily package up assets and make a big trade, let's assume they are looking to add more young assets and keep the pick. Ainge commented on how the guy they wanted at No. 1 would likely still be available at No. 3. There is rumored to be a top tier of players in which the Celtics value similarly, composing of Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, and Jayson Tatum. However, I also wouldn't count out Jonathan Isaac either.

So who are the Celtics targeting? No one may know for sure, but signs may be pointing to Tatum right now.

Favorite: Jayson Tatum

Surprised to see Jayson Tatum as the favorite over Josh Jackson? Well, maybe you shouldn't be. DraftExpress has him going to the Celtics in their current mock draft, and I too am giving the former Duke forward the edge over Jackson for a few reasons.

Justin Quinn previously reviewed why the Celtics may have their eye on Jayson Tatum, but this idea has become more relevant since trading down two spots in the draft. At 6'8" and a sturdy frame, Tatum's body is ready for the NBA and could instantly provide for a team that is coming off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.

The Celtics hosted the 19-year-old at their practice facility for a workout on Monday -- the same day their trade was finalized:



That's some awfully convenient timing, isn't it?

Tatum is debatably the best shot creator and scorer in the entire draft. Jay Bilas even when as far to say that Tatum is more talented than Fultz. His scoring versatility is super impressive for an incoming rookie and has convinced many that he will be Boston's guy at No. 3:



If Ainge does end up selecting Tatum, he should be able to instantly provide shot creating off the bench for Boston in 2017-18. This is something they often struggled with last season and have a need for, and Tatum already has the established skill to step into a scoring role off the bench. He is also a good rebounder and defender despite his average length and athleticism.

Tatum has displayed a great work ethic through high school and college. He has a good head on his shoulders. These are significant factors that a team like the Celtics always consider in evaluating talent, and I think it's more than enough to put Tatum as their No. 1 choice.

Josh Jackson

Jackson may very well still be Boston's guy given his physical characteristics and a motor that fits the mold of a traditional Celtics player. But I am not fully on board that this is what Boston is up to.

Yes, Jackson is a fierce competitor and grinder. But that strength often turned into a weakness in college. Jackson got easily frustrated on the court at Kansas, getting into many issues with referees and racking up many technical fouls. He got into some legal trouble off the court when he was charged with a misdemeanor for property damage of a student's car. Given this, Jackson appears to be a hot head with a short temper.

However, the Celtics took Marcus Smart a few years back who had his fair share of altercations at Oklahoma State due to his fiery competitiveness, so maybe this isn't much of a turn-off to the front office.

Also, to go back and argue against how Jackson fits the Celtics mold, you can't draft the same type of player over and over again. I mean, you need some diversity in skill set on your roster, right? Therefore, I don't think this argument is valid.

That being said, Jackson would still be a fine selection at No. 3. His athleticism and defensive instincts far make up for his questionable shooting abilities (remember another No. 3 pick with great athleticism and defensive potential, but limited shooting? Jaylen Brown was in the same boat last year, yet has already made great strides to his shot).

Dark Horse: Jonathan Isaac

This is a possibility that hasn't garnered too much attention, perhaps mainly because Isaac doesn't appear to fall under Boston's Tier 1 rankings. Still, I wouldn't be too shocked if Danny Ainge surprised virtually everyone and selected the versatile, lengthy forward. I even have them selecting Isaac in my personal Mock Draft, for a few primary reasons:

1. The Celtics pulled the trigger on their deal to move down to No. 3 before hosting workouts for Jackson or Tatum. They had however held a workout for Jonathon Issac in Las Vegas a while back.

2. Isaac has already shown tremendous upside as a defender, something the Celtics value heavily.

Tatum and Jackson are still the favorites, but Isaac would bring unique defensive versatility to the Celtics in a time where small ball lineups and ruling the league. It's something to think about if anything.


Who do you think Boston takes at No. 3? Who do you want them to take? Let me hear all your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.

Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32

Photo by @bycjdesign

Erik Johnson 6/20/2017 01:15:00 PM Edit
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