The Boston Celtics will have the No. 14 pick in the 2020 draft following the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery on Thursday evening.
The Celtics acquired the pick in a 2015 trade that sent Jeff Green to the Memphis Grizzlies. Last season, it was protected 1-8, and Memphis jumped up to No. 2 where it selected Ja Morant. This season, the pick was protected 1-6. If it had once again landed in the top four, the Celtics would have gotten Memphis’ unprotected pick next season.
The Celtics also have their own pick at No. 26 and the Milwaukee Bucks’ selection at No. 30, which they acquired by getting involved in Eric Bledsoe’s trade to Milwaukee in 2017.
Per team sources, the Celtics hoped the Memphis pick would jump up once again — the Celtics wanted next season’s unprotected selection, even though Memphis would have had another bite at the apple in the top four. It’s not hard to guess why: Next year’s draft is very deep, and even given its promising season, Memphis would have had an uphill climb into the postseason with the Golden State Warriors back to full health, as well as improvements to the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans. If the pick had risen, Boston could have had a shot at players like Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green — two likely stars who will be in next year’s draft.
Still, the odds were stacked against Boston — the Grizzlies pick only had a 2.4 percent chance of rising. In the end, the Celtics will have to settle for yet another lottery pick courtesy of another team while Boston contends for a championship.
How the Celtics use the pick will be fascinating. This year’s draft is low on star power but high on players who have the potential to play a role in the NBA. Several wing shooters could be available at 14, as well as a few high-risk, high-reward selections. Boston could play it somewhat safe by pursuing a player like Saddiq Bey or Aaron Nesmith — two wings who could bolster the Celtics’ bench scoring. Danny Ainge could also take a swing at a player like Aleksej Pokusevski — a 7-footer who handles and passes like a wing. Taking a swing might not be the worst idea, since Boston will have two other picks in the first round as well.
By Tom Westerholm, masslive.com