Could Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram still be available for the Celtics at No. 3?

In an ESPN Insider piece published this morning, Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton discussed the NBA draft prospects of Dragan Bender.  For Celtics fans wondering if Boston will take Bender with the No. 3 pick, it's a great read that's sure to peak your intrigue about the 7'1" 18-year-old from Croatia.

However, the final quote from Pelton is potentially even more exciting:

Bender's consensus projection is for 3.5 WARP [wins above replacement player] -- second in this year's draft behind Ben Simmons. Nobody else is above 3.0, with Brandon Ingram at 2.9. [Jamal] Murray (2.6) and [Kris] Dunn (2.3) are far below Bender.

While Bender is unlikely to help quite as much right away as the guards, particularly the 22-year-old Dunn, if teams are patient I think he's got a much better chance of becoming a star.

Based on Bender's projections, not only should the Boston Celtics be strongly considering him with the No. 3 pick, he also deserves consideration from the L.A. Lakers at No. 2.

The Lakers should consider Bender at No. 2???


Yes please Lakers, do it!  I heard a rumor Dragan's parents almost named him Dirk Kukoc Porzingis--he's clearly a can't miss!  Maybe the Sixers will even snatch him up at No. 1?

In all seriousness, Ford and Pelton don't specify who will go first between Simmons and Ingram.   If L.A. should debate taking Bender second and it's unclear which of those other two players is No. 1, doesn't that mean Philly also needs to think about grabbing Bender first?

It's obviously a long shot in either case, but Danny Ainge has got to be salivating at the thought of Simmons or Ingram dropping to No. 3.

Follow Mark Van Deusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan