Rumor: Celtics are interested in moving up for Mo Bamba in 2018 Draft

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There’s no denying that the Boston Celtics overachieved this season.

After all, they advanced all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without their two best players — Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

Over the course of the season and especially in the playoffs, youngsters Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier took on prominent roles and delivered alongside veterans Al Horford and Marcus Smart. Their strong play is an indication that adding the two healthy All-Stars to the young core could result in an NBA title as soon as next season.

Recently, Danny Ainge revealed that next year’s club will look a lot like this year’s. Since Greg Monroe, Aron Baynes and Shane Larkin are the only three players that aren’t under contract from this year’s club, Brad Stevens’ team will be able to mostly stay in tact. The only wild card is Smart, who will almost undoubtedly become a restricted free agent after the team extends him a $6.53 million qualifying offer.

When looking at the Celtics roster, it’s obvious that they’re a pretty complete club from top to bottom. But, if Smart signs elsewhere and Boston decides to not match the offer, they could be left with a need for a defensive-oriented guard. The same goes for Baynes, who started for much of the season. If he doesn’t re-sign for a small price (due to the salary cap) as an unrestricted free agent, Boston could be in need of a new center, at least for depth purposes.

Holding the No. 27 pick in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft, there’s a chance that Boston ends up filling a need. But, as seen in the past, Ainge isn’t scared of pulling the trigger on a trade. Given the team’s championship window, that could be a possibility, given the number of assets that they have.

In addition to holding all of their own first-round picks moving forward, the Celtics own the Sacramento Kings’ unprotected first-round pick in 2019. They also have the Los Angeles Clippers’ top-15 protected pick in 2019 as well as the Memphis Grizzlies’ top-9 protected pick next year. Therefore, if there’s a player that Boston has in mind towards the top of the draft, they can offer quite a bit in return, especially the Kings’ pick.

The target

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, they have their eye on one player in particular.

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“Sources told Sporting News that Boston has expressed interest in Bamba, including interviewing him at the Chicago pre-draft combine two weeks ago. Bamba measured in with a record wingspan of 7-10 in Chicago, reinforcing his status as the most ready-made rim protector in the draft,” he reported.

Mohamed Bamba would instantly become Boston’s lone rim protector. Averaging 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and an amazing 3.7 blocks in 30.2 minutes in his lone freshman season at the University of Texas, he projects as a top-10 pick in the draft. Given his insane length and ability to shoot from the perimeter (he knocked down 14-of-51 threes), he fits the new mold of an NBA center and has been compared to Joel Embiid for their obvious similarities.

Although the Celtics would undoubtedly have to include a package of draft picks, including Sacramento’s, it might be worth it if they can land Bamba to complete their roster and form arguably the deepest roster in the entire NBA. With a starting five of Irving, Brown, Tatum, Hayward and Horford with Rozier, Marcus Morris, and Bamba as the main contributors off the bench, the Celtics would instantly be the favorites in the Eastern Conference, especially considering the other young players on the roster like Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele, who will have another summer to improve. 

So, while a lot would have to be offered to even have the opportunity to draft Bamba, the benefit could end up outweighing the risk.

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