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Zion Williamson

ESPN's 2019 mock draft is out, and the Celtics are indeed looking very, very good. Yes, I know it's premature, but it is exciting. The Celts have two of the top-10 picks in the mock draft, including the second pick, and also possess the 18th pick via the Clippers. The ESPN mock draft used the new NBA lottery odds and the ESPN Future Power rankings to assemble this list. Here is a portion of the list that may be pertinent to Boston (via ESPN's Jonathan Giverny):

1. Chicago Bulls

R.J. Barrett | Montverde Academy (HS Sr.) | SG | Age: 17

Barrett established himself as arguably the top prospect in high school basketball with a phenomenal showing at the U19 World Championship in Cairo this summer. He's a highly versatile wing player with tremendous scoring instincts.

2. Boston Celtics (via Kings)

Zion Williamson | Spartanburg Day (HS Sr.) | PF | Age: 17

Williamson is more than just a social media phenomenon, although his freakish explosiveness is a big part of what makes him special. He plays with a reckless abandon that scouts love to see and has a good feel for the game along with a willingness to defend. The big question mark is whether he can develop any type of jump shot, since he's not very tall at around 6-foot-7.

The Celtics will receive the better pick between Sacramento and Philadelphia (protected for No. 1) only if they do not receive the Lakers' pick in 2018 (protected for No. 1 and Nos. 6-30).

3. Atlanta Hawks

Sekou Doumbouya | Poitiers (France, international 2000) | PF | Age: 16

Doumbouya wowed NBA scouts at the U18 European Championship last December, despite having turned 16 years old just days prior. He has been producing well in France at the pro level, too. He's an impressive athlete with a budding skill level offensively, but his jump shot and defensive intensity are a work in progress.

4. Brooklyn Nets

Cameron Reddish | Westtown School (HS Sr.) | SF | Age: 18

Reddish's production doesn't always match his potential, but he has enviable physical tools and impressive versatility on both ends of the floor. He can play (and guard) anywhere from 1-4, and has shown improvement with his jump shot. He willingly admits he needs to play with a higher intensity level, as he has a tendency to blend in at times relative to his talent level.

5. Phoenix Suns

Anfernee Simons | Edgewater HS (HS Sr.) | SG | Age: 18

Simons decommitted from Louisville as part of the ongoing FBI/DOJ NCAA investigation. He has recently developed into one of the most gifted scorers in high school basketball and carries significant upside thanks to his combination of physical tools and budding talent. He's the type of player for whom the game comes very easy.

6. Indiana Pacers

Immanuel Quickley | John Carroll School (HS Sr.) | PG | Age: 18

Quickley has prototypical size and length to go along with strong perimeter shooting prowess and multi-positional defensive versatility. He's a high-IQ guard who does a lot of the things you look for in a point guard his size.

7. New York Knicks

Nassir Little | Orlando Christian Prep (HS Sr.) | SF | Age: 17

Little's name has been mentioned in the recent FBI/DOJ NCAA investigation, which might complicate his college eligibility. He made a name for himself among NBA scouts with a strong showing at the Adidas EuroCamp in Italy this past June. His length, physicality and energy level on both ends of the floor, as well as his ability to score inside and out, really stood out.

8. New Orleans Pelicans

Quentin Grimes | Woodlands College Park (HS Sr.) | SG | Age: 17

Grimes is a tough, aggressive guard who does a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor. He has very good tools and instincts, but is still figuring out how to put it all together on a consistent basis in terms of polish and decision-making. Grimes improved significantly in the past year and still appears to have plenty of room to continue to grow.

9. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies)

Romeo Langford | New Albany HS (HS Sr.) | SG | Age: 17

Physical specimen of a wing prospect with excellent size, length, frame and athleticism. Langford is a dangerous open-court player who can also make shots impressively off the bounce. He also has significant potential defensively. His on-court decision-making and polish in the half court is still a work in progress.

The Grizzlies owe the Celtics their 2019 first-round pick, protected Nos. 1-8 in 2019, Nos. 1-6 in 2020 and unprotected in 2021.

10. Orlando Magic

Darius Garland | Brentwood Academy (HS Sr.) | PG | Age: 17

Arguably the most skilled, creative and polished point guard in his high school class, Garland had a tremendous showing at the Adidas EuroCamp in Italy in front of representatives from all 30 NBA teams. He does not possess great size, length or strength for his position, but his ability to play at different speeds and make shots from all over the floor gives him a chance to be a high draft pick if he continues to improve his physical profile.

18. Boston Celtics (via Clippers)

Jarred Vanderbilt | Kentucky (NCAA Fr.) | SF | Age: 18

Vanderbilt is yet another combo forward type vying for minutes and shots on a stacked Kentucky roster. He has the size and length to play quite a bit of 4 in the NBA, but he is a very good ball handler and passer who does an excellent job of crashing the glass and igniting fast breaks. Vanderbilt needs to significantly improve his jumper to maximize his NBA potential, as he has been considered a non-shooter for most of his career.

The Clippers owe the Celtics their 2019 first-round pick, lottery protected in 2019 and 2020; converts to 2022 second-round pick if not conveye

There is a lot of hype over Williamson, projected by ESPN to go to the Celtics with the second pick in the 2019 draft. In the quote below, via SI's Chris Johnson, we get the ever-present Lebron James comparison:

Among high school basketball players Williamson is a celebrity on a scale perhaps not seen since LeBron James. Williamson is unique in his capacity to consistently produce stunning plays that send tremors across basketball Twitter and serve as fodder for mesmerizing YouTube clips.

"...he seems like a cross between Larry Johnson and Blake Griffin. Williamson is a bouncy power player in a jumbo tight end’s body with a tight handle, the heft to bang in the low post and the quickness to fly by wings. One high-major assistant describes Williamson as a “freak of nature” and says, “You don’t see people his height play that high above the rim.” Adds Meyer, “He plays with a ferocity that you hardly ever see at this level.”

This December, I will be able to watch the top-two-projected high schoolers, Barrett and Williamson, at the annual Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Zion attends school in Spartanburg, SC so I expect there will be a lot of focus on him at the Classic. Our readers understand how tenuous this mock draft can be. There are a lot of variables. But it is fun to think What-If. What if Williamson goes to Boston and justifies the hype. I never projected Danny Ainge as an NBA mastermind during his playing days in the 80's, but I am a true believer now. From whiner to winner! Damn it, he's good!

Zion Williamson Photo credit: George Payan/AP

Tom Lane 10/02/2017 06:17:00 AM Edit
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