Draft night seemingly took on a new meaning for the Boston Celtics when the team shipped off its selection at No. 16 overall in the Kemba Walker trade. With no additional first-round picks left in the coffers, Brad Stevens was presumably left to focus on trade chatter and a later pick in Round 2.
Nevertheless, the Celtics were surprisingly busy at last week’s NBA Draft Combine. And some of the team’s activities have left fans and pundits to wonder whether Stevens might be considering a move back into the top half of the draft.
As relayed by Forbes’ Chris Grenham, the Celtics held interviews with a number of the prospects participating in the combing. And more than one of them appear to be locked in as lottery selections on draft night.
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Celtics Interviewed Scottie Barnes
Per Grenham, the prospect with the highest current draft stock that spoke with the Cs last week is Florida State forward Scottie Barnes. Right now, the 19-year-old is ranked No. 6 overall on ESPN’s big board. That’s the same position the folks at NBADraft.net have him going off the board to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For Beantowners who found themselves frustrated with the Cs inability to perform consistently on both ends of the floor in ’20-21, Barnes is a sight for sore eyes.
During his lone year with the Seminoles, Barnes — who measured at 6-foot-7 with a massive 7-foot-3¾ wingspan at the combine — displayed an impressive all-around skill set. As relayed by NBC Sports Bay Area, he has been compared to Golden State Warriors big man Draymond Green as a result of his two-way prowess.
Like Green, he can defend multiple positions, sets good screens and is a willing and able passer. He also plays with energy and passion on the court.
In 24 games last season (with seven starts), he put up 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest.
Brad Stevens Also Chatted with Kai Jones & Corey Kispert
Grenham also tweeted that Gonzaga wing Corey Kispert, the reigning WCC Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American, said he interviewed with the Celtics, too.
Kispert doesn’t have the all-around skillset, defensive prowess or athleticism that Barnes does. He’s also an older player who didn’t perform at a high level until his senior season year with the Zags. As such, there are definitely questions to be asked about his upside.
Having said that, his shooting ability is eye-popping. The 22-year-old made 44% of his nearly seven three-point attempts per game in ’20-21. He also put up a career-best 18.6 points per contest.
Kispert is currently ranked as the 12th-best overall prospect by ESPN.
Finally, Stevens and the Cs reportedly spoke with Texas Longhorns forward Kai Jones as well. The 6-foot-10, 221-pound Jones played for two seasons in Austin; as a sophomore, he averaged 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.8 steals in 22.8 minutes per contest. He also connected on 38.2% of his attempts from deep.
Although the Nassau, Bahamas native didn’t play organized basketball until the age of 15, his size, athleticism and raw potential have some comparing him to Jaren Jackson Jr.
ESPN ranks him as the No. 17 overall prospect.