ESPN Insider projects Celtics to have a top-5 pick in 2016 (from Nets), speculates on possibilities

Yesterday, ESPN Insider published a conversation between Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton regarding the immediate future of the Knicks and Nets, neither of which own their own first round draft picks next year.  A significant portion of the discussion ended up being about the Celtics, here are the highlights.

Ford on guys likely to be drafted around No. 5:

Duke's Brandon Ingram is a 6-10 small forward with a silky game. He's skinny, but he's got elite size and skill set for his position. San Diego State's Malik Pope is very similar to Ingram. Both are young and raw but have crazy potential. And don't count out Croatia's Dragan Bender, a 7-foot forward who might be this year's Porzingis. 

Pelton on who's in worse shape between the Knicks and Nets:

In some ways, I think Brooklyn's lost pick might be more painful [than the Knicks]. ... New York is done giving up first-round picks after this season. Brooklyn still has a swap option with the Celtics in 2017 and is giving them a first-round pick outright again in 2018. ...

I expect the Nets to be the weaker of the two teams in the Big Apple this season, meaning there's a good chance they send a top-five pick to Boston. How much can that jump start the Celtics' move from good to great? 

Ford with more on the Celtics' outlook:

I had them finishing 13th [in East], with only the Knicks and Sixers worse. That should give the Celtics a top-five pick. I pointed out, there will be talent -- especially at the small forward position, where the Celtics could use some help. I don't think the combination of Evan Turner, Jonas Jerebko, Jae Crowder and Perry Jones is the long-term answer (though I am excited to see what Brad Stevens could possibly get out of Jones). With Ingram, Pope and Bender all in that range, Boston should be able to land one of those guys. I could also see the Celtics giving a big man like Marquette's Henry Ellenson (who draws some comps to Kevin Love) or Utah's Jakob Poeltl some love. They have some young bigs, but I'm not sure any of them are the future.

Either way, this pick may be the most important piece in the Celtics' rebuilding model and could give them another cornerstone to build upon along with Marcus Smart.

Ford also mentions how badly the C's wanted to move up in the draft this past June.  In many ways, the 2015-16 season will be the best of both worlds for Celtics fans: A young up-and-coming team we can root for to win games without jeopardizing their lottery situation, which falls squarely on Brooklyn's shoulders instead.

Hypothetically, by next spring Boston could be a mid-40s win team with tons of cap room and a top-five lotto pick--not a bad position to be in.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan