The Boston Celtics have the #3 and #16 pick in this year’s NBA draft. They’re in a position in a two-man draft to not really need that third pick, and instead to use it to trade for someone they see as being more valuable. Maybe someone they were reportedly already interested in. Maybe someone like Jahlil Okafor.
At least that’s what writer/talker/and Boston super-homer Bill Simmons wants the Celtics to do:
“I think the guy they’re going to trade for is Okafor. That almost happened in February. And if you think about it, it makes a ton of sense for Philly. … They basically spent all these high lottery picks on big guys — Nerlens Noel, (Joel) Embiid … and then last year Okafor. And meanwhile the league’s gone small, and you need perimeter guys to win in the NBA.
If you’re Philly, first of all if you put Ben Simmons with any of those guys, it doesn’t really make sense. Ben Simmons can’t shoot. He’s probably a stretch-four in the NBA and he can’t shoot, which makes him just a four. And you already have a bunch of guys who can’t shoot. So I think if you’re Philly, I just think it makes sense to trade Okafor for (the No. 3 pick) … and Philly could take Jamaal Murray at (No. 3), and they could take Ingram or Simmons at (No. 1). .. And for the Celtics, you could argue Okafor could be the best player in this draft.”
I hate to say it since he’s such a yapper and his voice grates on my soul, but I agree with Simmons here. I don’t know if #3 for Okafor straight-up is a deal I’d do (I’d need a little sweetener). The logjam at the big positions doesn’t bother me– it’s how poorly Okafor’s skill set meshes with the other guys (though of “the other guys,” only two are probably keepers).
First, this all depends on Embiid’s health. But you won’t know that by draft day. So assuming he’s a non-factor here, the question essentially becomes, do you keep Okafor or Noel? I’ve written before about how I think it’s easier to build around Noel, but the fact is that Okafor has more value. It also depends on where the Sixers want to go with the top pick. Spacing is the key in the modern NBA, and if they pick Simmons – not much of a shooter – their spacing (especially with Okafor) isn’t as good as it would be with Ingram, a wing who can shoot and create his own shot. If you want Simmons, it’s not nonsensical to trade Okafor and take a shooter (say, Buddy Hield) at three. All of sudden you have a little bit more of a “team” that can play together than a collection of guys, all in one fell swoop. If you take Ingram with the top pick, you’re already helping your spacing. Either way, many (myself included, sometimes) are uncomfortable trading away Okafor for a pick in a weak draft, especially before we know what exactly Embiid is.
On a final note, I hate Boston for so many reasons, two of which are directly related to this. First, that they were the ones that got to take advantage of Billy King’s bad GMing and get all of those Brooklyn picks. Why not us? We actually had to put up with Billy King being our GM, we deserved some back pay for that (like when the Phils made some lopsided deals with Ed Wade after he left). And second, I’m incredibly mad that Celtics fans get to say “Boston 3:16” to root for their two picks. It’s just too perfect. And if no one is saying that yet, I demand to be paid once they start.