Boston Celtics: Three second-round sleepers to target

The Boston Celtics do not have a second round draft pick, but if they were to trade into the second round, I want to present three players who would be worth the gamble.

And a gamble it is. Roland Beech at compiled a table of the expected statistical production for every draft slot, based on statistics from players drafted between 1989-2008. He found that the first pick of the second round over that 20-year time period would average 4.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.8 assists a game. Based on his rating system, that equates to a deep bench player. And that is just the players picked that actually played in the NBA. He also found that 15% of those picks never played in the league. And it doesn’t get much better throughout the rest of the second round. 

With that in mind, here are three players I feel have the best chance at breaking the mold. They either have an elite skill that will translate to the NBA, experience, or have the best chance to help with ticket and jersey sales: Russ Smith, C.J. Wilcox, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo. 

Russ Smith

Russ Smith

Russ Smith

The importance of steals is often overlooked, but new research is showing how critical steals truly are. In one study, a steal was found to have as much impact to a team as 9.1 points. 

In his time at Louisville, Smith averaged 18.2 points a game to go along with two steals. According to this study, Smith had the impact of a player averaging 36.4 points-per-game. Applying this to the top 10 prospects, only Marcus Smart would average more points-per-game at 44.4. Putting a higher value on steals than other teams could lead the Celtics getting a great value by drafting Smith. 

C.J. Wilcox

C.J. Wilcox

C.J. Wilcox

In the argument over whether prospects should stay in school or not, I side with those that say they should stay. In C.J. Wilcox’s case, he stayed for all four years (So did Russ Smith).

I see this as a benefit, and would argue that the maturity he has gained will help him adjust to the NBA lifestyle. He will know his place, not expect anything to be handed to him, and will work hard. He won’t expect the entitlement that most 19-and 20-year-old lottery picks have. Not to mention, he has the potential to be an elite shooter.

In DraftExpress’ Top-100 prospects, Wilcox ranks in the top ten in field goal percentage in pull-up attempts (8), coming off screens (6), and catch and shoot (2). Those skills and his maturity could lead to a long, J.J. Redick type career for Wilcox. 

Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Let’s face it, basketball is a business. As much as we’d like to believe organizations make moves based solely for basketball reasons, they don’t. They need to make money. That’s why if I have a late second round pick, and odds are that player isn’t going to make it, I’m choosing the guy with the potential to get me the most publicity and the best chance to sell a jersey.

Thanasis is that guy. Honestly, the only reason I ever paid attention to anything the Bucks did or watched any of their games was to see his brother Giannis. From what I’ve heard, Thanasis is just as athletically blessed as Giannis and could be the Greek Freak 2.0. (Technically 1.0 since Thanasis is older than Giannis.)

Best case scenario, Thanasis develops into a solid NBA player and the Celtics look smart for getting him in the second round. Worst case scenario, the C’s have the only marketable second round pick and sell more tickets and jerseys than you would have otherwise. 

If the Celtics do choose to trade into the second round, those three players provide the best chance at avoiding the tradition of second round busts and benchwarmers. 


  1. Scott says

    Akil Mitchell–Univ. of Virginia. I’ve watched this guy in Charlottesville for four years and he is probably the most athletic and smart basketball player I have seen at the University. If you want a player to contain Lebron James and shut him down as much as possible, this is the guy. Mitchell is a great finisher in the paint. Has fantastic hands and athleticism. This is a guy who at 6’8 could probably shut down any center in the NBA right now. You could put him on any player on the opposing team and even if that guy is a guard, he could shut that guy down. It is rare to have a player with that kind of athleticism and intelligence. I wish he was coming back to the Cavaliers, but he belongs in the NBA, so people can see the awesome package of talent and energy he brings to the game. I realize the NBA season is too long, but on the otherhand, I’m not impressed with the effort of most NBA players, who seemingly play like they’d rather be shooting horse.

    • Nathan says

      I honestly don’t know much about Mitchell, so I’ll have to take your word for it. If he truly can guard all five positions, he would be a benefit to any team. Thanks for the input!

      • Scott says

        Mitchell is like a spring. He is a rare combination of speed, quickness and the desire to play shutdown defense. He reminds me of a mini Bill Russell. You know what? Maybe Mitchell isn’t that much smaller than Russell at 6’8! I’m not a big fan of the NBA anymore. They all say it’s about WINNING, but if you’re smart you know it’s really about the money.

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