NEW YORK — One thing that has become clear in the run-up to Thursday’s NBA draft when it comes to the Celtics: They are not sitting still. In addition to reports that the team has talked with the Wizards about a potential deal for center Kristaps Porzingis, Boston is also looking at trading into the first round to add a potential rookie contributor.
The goal there is to gird the roster for the potential loss of Grant Williams in restricted free agency.
A potential target for the C’s: 20-year-old Marquette forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who said on Wednesday that he did work out for Boston. It should be noted, of course, that OMP, as he is known, worked out for half the league in the run-up to Thursday.
“Great organization, great history. I had a really good time there,” Prosper said of his workout with the Celtics.
Celtics Would Need to Trade Into Top 20 for Prosper
Prosper is slated to be drafted somewhere in the 18-28 range and the Celtics, without a first-round pick, would have to target one of those spots to have a chance at him. The Heat and Warriors, at No. 18 and 19, are not likely to dump a pick to Boston, so the Celtics’ best bet would be to make a deal with Houston for the No. 20 pick.
The Celtics are working a number of tracks for a deal, but moving guard Payton Pritchard for a pick like Houston’s is among them.
Boston, according to league sources, also likes UCLA forward Jaime Jaquez. Both Prosper and Jaquez are veteran collegians, and Jaquez has actually graduated. He is 22 years old and averaged 17.2 points and 8.2 rebounds for the Bruins as a senior. He shot just 31.7% from the 3-point line, and said that was one thing he focused on in predraft workouts.
Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds, shooting 33.9% on 3-pointers and 51.2% overall as a junior.
Prosper Can Have Immediate Defensive Impact
Prosper, a native of Montreal who is 6-foot-8 and capable of guarding at least three positions, is among the best and most versatile wing defenders among a group of strong defensive draftees.
That is his ticket into the first-round, he acknowledged, a ticket that was not certain until his workouts over the past few weeks. It also could be his ticket to playing time as a rookie.
“The biggest thing is just being myself,” he said, “and what I mean by that is going out there with a mindset of controlling what I can control being the hardest worker out there, doing what I do best, showing my defensive versatility, showing my improved shooting, showing my ability to play in transition. Showing the way I have conducted myself, the way I have been in interviews and all that stuff—just being myself. And believing that I am better than a lot of guys who, at the time, were ahead of me. That’s how I have been able to build myself up.”
It is likely that, no matter where Prosper goes in the draft, he will wind up with a contender, as the Lakers, Heat and Warriors at picks 17-19 figure to have interest, too. It is hard to imagine him getting past the Grizzlies at No. 25.
Wherever it is, he will be ready.
“I worked out with a lot of teams,” he said. “I have been around so many great organizations. Whatever team wants to pick me, that is where I want to go. That is my mindset.”