The 2021 NBA Playoffs still have a long ways to go before they reach their conclusion, but the Boston Celtics are already in offseason mode. And what an offseason it has been.
Gone is Danny Ainge, taking his place in the GM’s office is former coach Brad Stevens and the search for a sideline replacement is in full effect. At the same time, Stevens is also jumping into another important offseason process.
Namely, preparing for the 2021 NBA Draft.
The Celtics own two picks in the draft, which is scheduled to take place on July 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Their first-round selection lies just outside of the lottery range at No. 16. Boston will be on the clock in Round 2 at No. 45 overall.
Although workouts and the draft combine are still weeks away, draft gurus in every corner of the hoops blogosphere have already begun putting out mock drafts. Earlier this week, USA Today/FTW’s Bryan Kalbrosky put out the fourth iteration of his own mock draft.
His Celtics selections could make for intriguing pick-ups for the Beantowners.
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FTW Mocks Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert to the Cs
With the 16th pick in the draft, Kalbrosky currently has the Celtics taking one of the better-known players in college hoops last season. Specifically, Gonzaga wing Corey Kispert, who just wrapped up his four-year run at the school by capturing WCC Player of the Year and consensus first-team All-American honors.
Kispert isn’t an elite athlete, and as an older player who didn’t really show out until his senior season, his ceiling is definitely a question mark. Moreover, his defense was average at best for the Zags.
However, he does bring at least one thing to the table that teams can never have too much of — shooting.
The 22-year-old connected on 44% of his nearly seven three-point attempts per contest last season. That was a mark that led the WCC, as did his true shooting percentage of 62.1. Consequently, he put up a career-best 18.6 points per contest in ’20-21.
Kispert is ranked as the 12th-best overall prospect on ESPN’s big board. Meanwhile, the folks at NBADraft.net have him ranked as the 10th-best prospect and are citing former Celtic and one-time Wally Szczerbiak as a player comp.
The Big Man From Utah State
At pick No. 45, Kalbrosky has the Celtics going for size and shot-blocking with Utah State’s Neemias Queta. For those who have been concerned with the Cs lack of consistent rim protection and defensive effort, Queta is the pick for you — he’s a two-time Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.
The 21-year-old Portuguese baller started in the middle for all of his three years with the Aggies, averaging 13.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. His size and length would be day-one elite in the Association; Queta stands at just over seven feet tall with a seven-foot-four wingspan.
He’s also known for his incredible work ethic. In April, Utah assistant Eric Peterson — who recruited Queta when he was with the Aggies — raved about it on an episode of the Crimson Corner podcast.
“It takes a lot to show up every single day. Some kids you coach, you have to say, ‘Hey, let’s get in the gym’ or ‘Hey, do you want to get in the gym today?’ Nemi was just constantly, ‘Coach, you got film for me?’ ‘Coach, can we shoot this morning at 7 am?’”
Some early mocks have had Queta going off the board in the late first round.