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Celtics score big with two new standouts

Jimmy Myers
Celtics score big with two new standouts
Celtics 1st round draft pick Baylor Scheierman drives to the basket. PHOTO: CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

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While the Boston Celtics bask in the glow of NBA Championship number 18, the National Basketball Association Draft ushered in a new generation of players on June 26 at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York.

For the second year in a row, the first player drafted came from the country of France as the Atlanta Hawks drafted Zaccharie Risacher, forward who played for JL Bourg-en-Bresse. He follows countryman Victor Wembanyama, last year’s top pick in the league draft. Alexandre Sarr (Perth Wildcats) was the number two pick, going to the Washington Wizards. Kentucky Guard Reed Sheppard was taken by the Houston Rockets at number three, with the Spurs taking Stephon Castle, a tough-minded guard-forward from the two-time defending National Champion Connecticut Huskies at number four. The Detroit Pistons, who recently hired coach J.B. Bickerstaff Jr. to replace Monty Williams, drafted Ron Holland II from G League Ignite at number five.

The only surprise of the top five picks was Sheppard, who the Rockets selected at number three. Some basketball minds feel that he was drafted too high. Time will tell.

The rest of the ten picks went as follows:

Tidjane Salaun (Cholet Basket) to the Charlotte Hornets at number six, The Portland Trailblazers took center/forward Donovan Clingan (Connecticut) at the seventh slot.  The Spurs drafted Kentucky guard Rob Willingham at number eight and traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Zack Edey, the seven-foot center from Purdue, was taken at number nine by the Memphis Grizzlies. The three-time All-American and two-time College Basketball Player of the Year could see significant playing time with the Grizzlies. The Utah Jazz chose forward Cody Williams (Colorado) with the 10th pick.

Celtics 2nd pick in the draft, forward Anton Watson of Gonzaga PHOTO: GONZAGA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

The Celtics received high marks for their two selections, Baylor Scheierman, a 6’7” forward from Creighton, at number 30 and Anton Watson, a 6’8” forward from Gonzaga, at number 54. Scheierman, who fits the Celtic’s scheme with his 3-point marksmanship, is considered a steal for the Green. 

He is one of the best shooters in this draft class, a long-distance marksman who hit 37.9% of his pull-up jump shots, 40.6% of his 3-pointers off screens, 44.2% of 3s in transition, and 56.5% of ball screens.  Watson, who averaged 14 points a game, is considered a project.  If his shooting touch develops, he could help the team. The overall grade for the Celtics is a B+, which is one of the better marks in the league.

Eyebrows were raised when the announcement came that the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Bronny James, the son of team star LeBron James with the 55th pick in the second round. He will begin playing on the same court with his famous father, thus becoming the first father/son duo to compete together in NBA history. Stay tuned.

Another thought to ponder:

There were 20 foreign players drafted into this year’s NBA, meaning 20 fewer spots for American-born players. There is a message here. The NBA is moving closer to an international basketball organization. Unless American-born players learn to hone their skills like their foreign competitors, they will be left out of the picture in the very near future. 

Newest Philadelphia 76er Paul George at a press conference in 2014. PHOTO: BOTTOJ

Fans of the Celtics received surprising news on July 1, 2024, when the public found out that Wyc Grousbeck, the majority owner of the team, has decided to sell the majority stake of the franchise for what is estimated to be close to $5 billion. He and partners Steve Pagliuca and Robert Epstein are about to max out an investment of $360 million they paid back in 2003 for an estimated ten times that amount. Grousbeck is expected to remain the team’s governor until a deal is complete in 2028. The team also announced the signing of guard Derrick White (4 years/$126 million ), Sam Houser, and Luke Kornet to contracts. 

With team star Jason Tatum set to ink a max/contract extension worth $314 million, the Celtics will have their starting unit intact at the beginning of the 2024-’25 NBA season.

A couple of other notes of NBA interests:

The Philadelphia 76ers announced the signing of All-Star guard Paul George to a four-year, $211 million free-agent contract.

Also, five-time All-Star Klay Thompson has reportedly inked a three-year, $50 million free-agent deal with the Dallas Mavericks, thus leaving the Golden State Warriors after 13 years and four NBA Championships. There are those who feel that the Warriors’ management should have tried harder to keep Thompson — a class act if there ever was one — in a Warriors uniform for the remaining years of what is sure to be a Hall of Fame career.

After battling back from two catastrophic injuries (Achilles and knee) to help the team win its fourth NBA title, Klay Thompson deserved a better exit.