There’s a chance the Boston Celtics will lose guard Marcus Smart this summer when the 23-year-old becomes a restricted free agent.
Smart has been a valuable piece for the C’s, and while Boston could choose to re-sign the hard-nosed guard, they might have to look at cheaper options in order to avoid luxury-tax issues.
Enter: the 2018 NBA Draft.
Boston has the potential to have two first-round draft picks in the upcoming NBA draft, but the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent hot stretch has mightily decreased the C’s chances of landing LA’s first-round pick, which they acquire if it falls between No. 2 and No. 5.
If Boston enters the 2018 NBA Draft with only its own first-round pick, which right now would be No. 27, it could choose to use the pick to select Smart’s replacement.
And that’s exactly what ESPN’s Jonathan Givony is projecting in his latest mock draft, with the C’s taking USC guard De’Anthony Melton.
The sophomore guard averaged 8.3 points per game during his freshman season, but he has not played this season after the Trojans ruled him ineligible due to his involvement in the FBI’s pay-for-play scandal.
Melton is known for his defense and toughness, much like Smart, but he will need to work on his jump shot in order to be effective in the NBA. The 6-foot-4 guard shot just 43 percent from the field during his freshman season while connecting on only 28.4 percent of his shot from 3-point range.
Givony is projecting Real Madrid point guard Luka Doncic being taken with the No. 1 overall pick with Arizona center Deandre Ayton going second.