The Celtics probably aren't going to use all of three of their first-round picks later this month, but they are taking advantage of the unique situation they find themselves amid a fairly competitive draft class for 2019. While most scouts have pointed to the fact there is plenty of separation from the top tier of the draft (Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, RJ Barrett) to the next level, there is also kinds of evenness in the teens and 20s in the minds of evaluators, including C's director of player personnel Austin Ainge.
"I mean, it really is evaluating a lot of the same group for all three picks, right?" Ainge explained. "Not any of us can distinguish between 14 and 22 at this point, for the most part. It's a lot of the same guys for all of those picks and workouts. It's helped us get guys in this year...A lot of those players we’re trying to break ties, positionally, on our board. So that can be useful, getting them together."
The Celtics will be draft at No. 14, 20 and 22 on draft night if they keep those selections so they had the luxury of hosting several players that are draft candidates for any of those slots in a head-to-head battle on Tuesday. The lineup was heavy on wings including Kevin Porter Jr. (USC), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech), Tyler Herro (Kentucky), and Luguentz Dort (Arizona State). One Celtics evaluator raved about the level of competition in the workout to BostonSportsJournal.com.
It can be tough for teams to convince potential lottery picks to share the floor with one another during a workout, but the C's numerous picks have made them an appealing destination as a potential landing spot for the second tier talent across draft boards. That should give the C's an advantage in trying to determine who stands out among a crowded pack.
"The agents obviously have to agree to it all in advance and sometimes people are excited about it, sometimes they aren’t," Ainge said of the head-to-head workouts. "The players are always in for it. The agents who are tied to them sometimes want to do it, sometimes not. But it was a selling point. A lot of these guys wanted to be in here and show that they’re better than other guys at their position."
Ainge later added: "Sometimes we try to get a mix of positions so that the 3-on-3 looks a little more game-like, and today we went with a lot of wing players. And I thought it was a really good group. Guys played really hard and we’re able to see lots of matchups that we’re interested in because a lot of these guys are projected in our range."
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