Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward hopes Kyrie Irving is successful with the Brooklyn Nets.

Irving left Boston and inked a four-year, $140.6million contract with Brooklyn this offseason.

Hayward was asked about Irving's departure when he met with reporters on Tuesday. 

"The interesting part of the league is the drama that happens every offseason," Hayward said, via NBC Sports Boston. "I don't know if there's any league like that, where you have major guys moving teams.

"I wish [Irving] the best of luck as he goes to Brooklyn."

The Celtics also lost Al Horford (Philadelphia 76ers) and Marcus Morris (New York Knicks) in free agency.

But, they signed three-time All-Star Kemba Walker and added center Enes Kanter.

"As a team, we're excited about who we have coming in," Hayward said. "I'm more than excited to welcome Kemba and Enes, and all the other guys that are new for us."

Hayward was inconsistent last season after he missed almost all of 2017-18 with a devastating leg injury. He averaged 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game while shooting 33.3 per cent from three-point range. 

Hayward said he has spent the offseason focusing on bouncing back.

"More than anything, just building back some confidence; being able to do everything that I'm used to doing," Hayward said. "Reps is what gives you confidence, being able to do things over and over and over and not worry about how my ankle is feeling or having to be cautious with it, has been really good for my confidence.

"That has felt really nice, being able to train how I'm used to training. Not having to worry about doing stuff for only 10 minutes, only doing a certain amount of reps. It's been really good from that standpoint."

The Celtics entered 2018-19 as the favourites to win the East but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference semifinals.

Kemba Walker has already had an impact on his new Boston Celtics team-mates, who are thrilled to be playing alongside the point guard.

Walker joined the Celtics this offseason as a part of a sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets in which Boston sent Terry Rozier the other way.

The 29-year-old signed a four-year, $140million deal with the Celtics and will be taking over the spot left vacant by Kyrie Irving, who went to the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.

Playing alongside Walker next season will be established Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are thrilled to be welcoming the point guard to Boston.

"I'm just excited," Tatum said at a Team USA practice session in Las Vegas ahead of the FIBA World Cup.

"We've got a good team, it's a new season, everybody's kind of ready to just get going. Last year didn't finish how we wanted, so it makes guys hungry and excited for next season."

"We're going to be positive," Brown added. "Last year, I can't say it can be any worse than that, so coming out and being positive is everybody's mindset."

The Celtics were picked to win the Eastern Conference after going 55-27 in 2017-18, when they finished second in the East and lost in seven games in the conference finals to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But Boston struggled last season, sliding to 49-33, finishing fourth in the East and losing in the second round of the playoffs to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Walker, meanwhile, missed the postseason for the sixth time in his eight-year spell at Charlotte, and though he made staying with the Hornets a priority in free agency, a deal could not be thrashed out.

He has always stated his love for the city of Charlotte and for his team-mates and the organisation, but it ultimately turned out it was time for him to move on.

However, Walker's loyalty is something that has endeared him to the Celtics squad, according to Marcus Smart.

"We talked a little bit about basketball, but mostly just getting to know each other," Smart said.

"Knowing things that we probably didn't know about one another and just laughing and joking and building that camaraderie up."

Walker echoed Smart's sentiments, but made it clear he still has a way to go before guaranteeing any titles in Boston's future.

"I'm the new guy, they already know each other, so it's just kind of really me and getting acclimated to them and how things go," Walker said.

Jayson Tatum believes he played a big role in the Boston Celtics landing Kemba Walker.

Walker agreed to leave the Charlotte Hornets and sign a four-year, $141million max contract with the Celtics this offseason.

Tatum said he spoke with Walker about the team while they were both in Paris for a Jordan Brand event.

"I'm very excited," Tatum said, via ESPN. "I think I had a big part with him coming here ... I never told him to come, but I told him I would love for him to join the team and told him how it was. Obviously, everybody has to do what's best for themselves, and I'm happy for him."

The Celtics entered last season as the favourites to win the East but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference semi-finals.

They lost Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Al Horford (Philadelphia 76ers) and Marcus Morris (New York Knicks) in free agency but added center Enes Kanter, as well as Walker.

Gordon Hayward is also expected to take a step forward after he struggled last season following a devastating leg injury in 2017-18.

"I just told [Walker] about Boston, the city, the atmosphere, our fans, the culture, the coaching staff," Tatum said. "I answered all the questions he had. I'm excited, and just ready for the season to start and everybody to be around each other and build some chemistry and just get it going."

Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points, along with 5.9 assists, in 82 games for the Hornets last season. He shot 43.4 per cent from the field and 35.6 per cent from three-point range.

"I'm a winner. I've always been a winner," Walker wrote in a piece for the Players' Tribune last month. "It's who I am – or at least who I strive to be – anytime I step foot on the court. And when I think about my future with this team, and how I'm now going to be playing for the Celtics. I mean, that's why I feel like it's a match made in heaven.

"I want to win here, badly – and I'm excited to prove myself as that type of player in this league. I want to elevate myself into that Boston winning tradition. I want to get this team back on top."

Tatum had a standout rookie season but was inconsistent in 2018-19.

Enes Kanter wanted to win, leading to his decision to sign with the Boston Celtics.

The 27-year-old center inked a two-year, $10million contract with the Celtics earlier this month.

He discussed his decision to head to Boston during an interview with USA Today's HoopsHype.

"It's my ninth year in the league and I understand that, for many people, the money is important," Kanter said.

"For me, the most important thing is being with a team that you're really happy on and playing with a team that's competing for a championship. That was the big thing for me. For everybody else, the money matters [more]. For me, the number one thing was winning."

Kanter began the season with the New York Knicks but was released after the trade deadline. He then signed with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 23 games.

Kanter was also a reliable scorer in the playoffs for the Trail Blazers, who advanced to the Western Conference finals before falling to the Golden State Warriors in four games.

"When I was with the Knicks, the season wasn't going the way that I wanted," Kanter said. "I wanted to go out there and win. I'm glad that I picked Portland [after being waived]. Portland was definitely one of the best stops of my career. It helped me grow into a better player and a better person at the same time."

The Celtics' roster underwent a major overhaul this offseason. They lost Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Al Horford (Philadelphia 76ers) and Marcus Morris (Knicks) in free agency but signed star Kemba Walker away from the Charlotte Hornets, in addition to Kanter.

"The reason I went [to Boston] is for a championship," Kanter said. "I feel like the team is really young and willing to learn and we have an amazing group of guys. I feel like we can beat any team on any floor. All we have to do is just be good friends and stay together … It's definitely going to be a very, very exciting season."

The Celtics entered last season as the favourites to win the East but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference semi-finals.

Kyrie Irving's decision to leave Boston and sign with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency did not come as a surprise to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge.

During an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich, Ainge opened up about some of the conversations he had with the six-time All-Star in the months leading up to his free agency.

"He did express to me on a couple of occasions between March and the end of [the season] that he really wanted to go home," Ainge said about Irving, who grew up in New Jersey.

"I got the impression at that point that he wanted to go play in Brooklyn more than he wanted to play in New York or Boston."

Irving had mentioned at one point that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics, but Ainge revealed he never had that conversation with him.

"He told everyone else, but I never had that conversation with him," Ainge said. "I asked him point blank in the conversations that I had with him, 'Would you consider returning to Boston?' And he was always 'Yes'. He was always in that frame of mind. I don't think he was out the door for sure by then. I think he was contemplating all his options."

Ainge went on to defend Irving and said he wanted to take the blame away from the veteran.

The Celtics finished the season with a 49-33 record and many questioned Irving's leadership.

"A lot of people put a lot of heat on Kyrie of being the guy that's supposed to be this great leader and it was his responsibility to lead everybody," Ainge said.

"I continually tried to remove that pressure from Kyrie and [tell him to] just be yourself, just go play, just have fun, find joy in the game ... I think he did feel that burden, that he had to be too much, and wasn't able to do that.

"I don't like the fact that it's all the blame on [Irving]. I'd like everybody to take responsibility for that. I feel like the Kyrie bashing is unfair, that's all."

Boston Celtics recruit Kemba Walker will "forever love" Michael Jordan for giving him a chance in the NBA.

Walker joined the Celtics via sign and trade earlier this month, ending an eight-season stay in Charlotte with the Bobcats and Hornets.

The three-time All-Star guard, unveiled by the Celtics on Wednesday, paid tribute to Hornets owner and NBA great Jordan.

"He had a great influence on me. First of all, he drafted me. He gave me my opportunity to play in this league," Walker said.

"He allowed me to play through mistakes, allowed me as a person, as a man. I love that dude, that's my guy, we have a great relationship.

"I'll forever love him because of the opportunity he gave me."

Walker has reportedly signed a four-year, $141million max contract with the Celtics, who are 17-time NBA champions.

The 29-year-old said he was eager for success with Boston after reaching the playoffs just twice in eight seasons in Charlotte.

"For me, it's the competitiveness of this organisation, they've been winning for years," Walker said.

"You can see all the banners upstairs and in the arena. It's a winning organisation and I want to win – that's what I'm about.

"Throughout my basketball career and as a pro, I haven't won consistently, and I just want to get a taste of that. I thought that this was the best place for me to do that."

Tacko Fall could start the season in the NBA after impressing with the Boston Celtics.

The center out of Central Florida went undrafted in 2019 but impressed in the summer league after signing a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contract with the Celtics.

General manager Danny Ainge was asked about Fall during a news conference on Wednesday.

"He's a great kid, he's working really hard, we want to take his development very seriously," Ainge said, via WEEI.

"He's a high priority for us to try to really develop into a player."

The Celtics have an open roster spot, which Fall could fill, after they waived forward Guerschon Yabusele earlier this month.

"I think that Tacko is going to have a chance to make the roster, but we'll see," Ainge said. "He's here working out right now, brought him in for a few days. We see some upside there, we're excited about him."

Fall averaged 7.2 points and 1.4 blocks while shooting 77 per cent from the field during his time with the Celtics in the summer league.

"You know, some of the plays he makes are hilarious, because you just don't see them," Ainge said. "I mean, guards get in a bind and they just throw the ball up in the air and then Tacko grabs them and tip-toe dunks them into the basket. It just looks like it's a senior in high school playing against fourth-graders sometimes out there."

The Celtics lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency this offseason. But, they signed both Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he expected the changes at Boston after their 2018-19 NBA season.

Boston lost star guard Kyrie Irving, along with forward Al Horford, in free agency, but acquired Kemba Walker in a sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets.

Stevens addressed the team's recent moves when he met with reporters on Tuesday.

"Anytime you go through a year like we went through, where you don't necessarily meet expectations, there's probably going to be some change," Stevens said, via The Boston Globe.

Irving, who ended up signing with the Brooklyn Nets, had a rough stint in Boston.

He was reportedly unhappy and had issues with team-mates as well as the coaching staff.

"I don't know if there's anything anyone individually necessarily feels like they should have done or could have done [to keep Irving]," Stevens said.

"That's part of free agency. You can go where you want at the end of the day. I enjoyed Kyrie. I like Kyrie, and I wish him nothing but health and success. I don't fault him one bit for choosing to follow whatever he wants to do. That's his right."

Horford was a vital member of the Celtics' rotation last season. He declined his $30.1million player option with Boston last month and was originally expected to return to the team on a three-year deal. But, the sides were reportedly far apart on a new contract and negotiations fell apart.

The 33-year-old then went on to ink a four-year contract, reportedly worth up to $109m, with the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We loved Al, we wanted him back," Stevens said. "Again, it's his choice. He can go do what he wants to do and there's a lot of factors that end up helping these guys make those decisions. But he's a heck of a player and did a great job here in the three years he was here."

Walker, meanwhile, has been an All-Star in each of the past three seasons and was named to the All-NBA third team in 2018-19.

"[Walker] is a great player," Stevens said. "And he's been able to continue to get better and better and better as his career has gone on. He's made himself into an excellent shooter, he's great off pick and rolls, he's got incredible speed, can see the game, can read the game. He's an awfully good player, and we're excited he decided to come to Boston."

The Celtics entered the season as the favourites to win the East but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference semi-finals.

Boston also brought in center Enes Kanter while Marcus Morris is reportedly reconsidering his commitment to the San Antonio Spurs and may end up landing with the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks missed out on top free agents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving due to a "toxic situation" at the franchise, according to Charles Oakley.

Durant announced on Sunday he has decided to leave the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets, where Irving is set to land after two seasons with the Boston Celtics.

Former Knicks star Oakley suggested the organisation's culture is the reason for their failure to sign top free agents this offseason.

"Why are they missing out? New York ain't New York no more," Oakley told WFAN Sports Radio.

"There's a lot of stuff going on. It's not a smooth operation and players don't want to be around a lot of that stuff going on.

"They want to be somewhere they can relax, have fun - it don't have to be a big city no more.

"You can have all the money you want, under the cap, but you have to have everything else in the house tight too.

"For the fans, New York is New York, but for the players now, it's just a different ball game. I mean, they don't want to be around a bad, toxic situation."

Oakley was involved in an altercation at Madison Square Garden with Knicks owner James Dolan in 2017. He was thrown out of and later banned from the arena and he believes the incident has left a sour taste for many in the game.

"I've talked to a lot of guys, and I've talked to a lot of guys representing too, and a lot of them are upset about what happened two years ago," Oakley said.

"People respect me. A lot of stuff that went on wasn't right, and from the commissioner on down, nobody has tried to address it, but the players have seen it for themselves.

"They're not trying to go to an environment where someone says something, and somebody is going to come talk to him with an axe, or someone is going to come and put handcuffs on him. They don't want that kind of environment.

"I just feel bad for the city of New York, the fans that give their heart and soul and sweat and tears to come to games, and they have to keep going through this."

The Knicks have reportedly agreed to terms with Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington.

Enes Kanter is joining the Boston Celtics on a two-year, $10million contract.

The center concluded talks with the Celtics on Monday and his manager Hank Fetic announced the agreement, which contains a player option for the second year.

Kanter is entering his ninth NBA season and Boston will be the fifth team he has played for.

The 27-year-old was waived by the New York Knicks in February, but made himself a valuable asset for the Portland Trail Blazers on a one-year deal worth a little more than $650,000 not long after. 

Kanter averaged 11.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the 2019 playoffs before the Trail Blazers were swept by Golden State in the Western Conference finals.

He recorded five double-doubles in the postseason and filled in valiantly for the injured Jusuf Nurkic, but Portland traded for the Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside to fill their hole in the middle.

Boston, on the other hand, are in need of a post presence, as Al Horford declined his $30.1million player option and signed a four-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Celtics drafted five players in 2019 and lost some notable veterans to free agency this summer, including Kyrie Irving. They also inked former Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker to a max contract. 

The Kemba Walker Charlotte Hornets era has come to an end.

In a piece published in the The Players' Tribune on Monday, the All-Star guard penned an emotional farewell to the team and city that took a chance on him when he was selected ninth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.

"This was an extremely tough decision, and I hope people on both sides will take that the right way. I owe Charlotte everything, man. Everything." Walker began.

Walker traced it all back to his first encounter with the Hornets owner and his new boss, who happened to be NBA legend Michael Jordan.

"He called me up … and of course I recognized his voice instantly. (I remember thinking, even in that moment, you know, like - Damn. It’s MIKE.) And real calm, real cool, he just said," Walker wrote.

"Kemba, we believe in you. I want you to know that. We believe in you, and we expect great things,

"Man, I’m not exaggerating when I say that those words from MJ changed my life."

Walker, who grew up in the Bronx, went on to credit the welcoming organisation and state as a whole for supporting him throughout his eight-year career in which he averaged 19.8 points, 5.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds over 605 games. He averaged a career-high 25.6 points for the Hornets last season.

"Charlotte … you are my people forever. You’re family, straight up. I love you," he added.

Now bound for Boston after reportedly agreeing to a four-year maximum contract worth $141million with the Celtics, Walker is clearly eager to start his next chapter.

He introduced himself to Celtics fans as a "quiet leader" and "a winner" as he promised to help get the team "back on top" in the Eastern Conference and beyond.

"And Boston….. I’ll see you all in September. I’m ready. I’m truly ready," he penned. "Let’s do this."

Kemba Walker is heading to the Boston Celtics.

The long-time Charlotte Hornets guard has committed to signing a four-year, $141million contract with the Celtics, his agent Jeff Schwartz told ESPN.

Even though Walker insisted his top choice was to stay with the team that selected him ninth overall in the 2011 draft, he could not pass up the Celtics' offer after a tough couple of years that saw the Hornets miss the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.

"I think that's what it was, moving onto the next thing, just moving on to a whole new chapter in my basketball career," Walker told SportsCenter.

"I gave that city [Charlotte], gave that organisation every single thing I can possibly give them.

"Now, it's about competing at the highest level, which we all know Boston is doing that year in, year out and I want to be a part of something really special as far as being able to compete at the highest level, getting myself the best opportunity to make a run in the playoffs."

Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points, along with 5.9 assists, for Charlotte last season. He shot 43.4 per cent from the field and 35.6 per cent from three-point range.

The Hornets will attempt to replace Walker with Terry Rozier, who they reportedly acquired in a sign-and-trade with Boston on Sunday.

Remember when the Toronto Raptors created history by winning the NBA title? You should do, as it was less than three weeks ago when the Finals finished.

However, with the playoffs over and the draft done and dusted, it is now time for the NBA to move on to the next major event - free agency.

At 18:00 ET (22:00 GMT) on Sunday, the negotiating can officially begin. Those out of contract get the chance to hold meetings with prospective new employers, and this year's list of available players includes some of the biggest names in the league.

The Los Angeles Lakers created waves by acquiring Anthony Davis, and now it is time to sit back and see how that blockbuster deal ripples through the rest of the NBA. It only takes one big trade – or two major injuries to deposed champions – to create a completely different landscape.

So, before the madness starts, we look at those who can expect to be making the headlines in the coming days and weeks.

 

THE TEAMS

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have grand plans but are light on numbers. Trading for Davis came at a high price and they have gutted the roster with the clear aim of another superstar to combine with Davis and LeBron James. However, the desire to hit the jackpot has forced them to mortgage their long-term future.

Los Angeles Clippers

Yes, that's right, there are two teams hoping to make it big in LA. The Clippers reached the playoffs last season and landed a couple of haymakers on the Golden State Warriors in the first round, yet that was all a welcome bonus. In the shadow of their city rivals, they want to land one of the big fish in the free agency pond.

Brooklyn Nets

Like the Clippers, the Nets surprisingly reached the postseason. They did so with a collection of players cobbled together through trades and the draft. There is room to add superstars (note the plural there) to those still under contract in Brooklyn, but that will alter the dynamic of a group that gelled so well together.

New York Knicks

The Knicks are hoping the lure of New York can help add a star to make them a headline act again. But, much like the Lakers in Los Angeles, they suddenly have noisy neighbours. It will be a major blow to the Knicks if any of their leading targets opt to relocate to Brooklyn instead.

And the rest...

While Kyrie Irving failed to pan out as planned, the Boston Celtics still have young talent and enough cap room to work something out. Then there is the New Orleans Pelicans, minus Davis but with top draft pick Zion Williamson and a number of the Lakers' cast-offs. Watch out for the Denver Nuggets and the Philadelphia 76ers as well, two teams with serious title aspirations.

 

THE PLAYERS

Kevin Durant – The ruptured Achilles suffered in the NBA Finals could cost him an entire season but will not hurt him in terms of his next contract. Long linked with the Knicks, he could still yet opt to stay with the Warriors. Even with his injury, Durant is going to be in high demand.

Kawhi Leonard – Toronto's gamble to trade for Leonard paid off in spectacular fashion. The lure of defending the title with largely the same roster may sway Leonard to remain in Canada a little while longer, though Los Angeles has always been rumoured as his likely long-term destination.

Kyrie Irving – The point guard did not perform as expected in Boston, but that will not deter teams from showing interest. Could he join up again with LeBron at the Lakers? Possibly, though Brooklyn are thought to be heading the queue to secure his signature.

Kemba Walker – Irving is not the only All-Star point guard up for grabs. Charlotte can offer Walker more money to remain a Hornet, yet their former first-round pick could decide the time is right to buzz off. Boston and the Dallas Mavericks are reportedly keen.

Jimmy Butler – The 76ers leaned heavily on Butler in the playoffs, and the presence of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons makes Philadelphia a genuine contender in the East. Both Los Angeles franchises could call, while the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat are rumoured to be exploring sign-and-trade possibilities.

Klay Thompson – After Durant went down in the Finals, Golden State suffered a second serious injury blow when Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6. So, could we have seen the last of the Splash Brothers in tandem? The Warriors will be loath to lose Stephen Curry's back-court partner, particularly to a Western Conference rival.

And the rest…

Malcolm Brogdon, Kristaps Porzingis and D'Angelo Russell are all restricted free agents, giving their teams the chance to match any offer they receive. Khris Middleton, JJ Redick and Bojan Bogdanovic are shooters who can expect to be well paid, while big men Al Horford and Nikola Vucevic will not go short with their next contracts. Then there is DeMarcus Cousins, who showed flashes with Golden State after returning from injury.

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team are exploring "different opportunities" amid uncertainty over star pair Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.

The Celtics are reportedly set to undergo a major overhaul, with both Irving and Horford tipped to leave in free agency.

Irving has been linked to the Brooklyn Nets, while the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks have emerged as destinations for Horford.

Ainge discussed Boston's offseason plans when he met with reporters on Monday.

"I like the fact that we have different opportunities," Ainge said. "And we have some flexibility, but I don't really know what is realistic yet.

"That's what we'll spend the rest of this week trying to figure out, is what even do we have a chance to do and where should be our priorities?

"But I'm excited about the opportunity. I'm excited about the flexibility that we have. I'm excited about the youth that we have and some of our returning players. I think it's going to be a really fun year. Looking forward to it."

The Celtics have already added four players to their roster - Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters – following last week's draft.

"I think it just makes life more enjoyable when everybody is humble, hard working and will play any role they have to [in order] to help the team succeed," Ainge said. "You do have to have a certain amount of talent to win, as we all know, but good people makes coming to work more fun."

The Celtics entered the season as the favourites to win the Eastern Conference but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference semi-finals.

"We have a really good feel for all the players in the league, who they are and how they might fit with us and our needs and so forth," Ainge said. "I wouldn't say a lot more homework, but we will have a lot of conversation. That's probably the biggest thing, just to get organised as we possibly can for all the possible scenarios in free agency."

The Celtics also appear like they are exploring the trade market. They have reportedly "checked in" with the Houston Rockets about a deal for center Clint Capela and also explored acquiring New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday.

The NBA Draft is a gamble.

Players who everyone is convinced are going to be good (Greg Oden, Markelle Fultz, Jahlil Okafor) sometimes are not. Whether that is because of fit or injury or whatever, sometimes things just do not work out.

But no matter what happens, after every draft people leave loving what their team secured or flat-out hating it.

So, what did we love and flat-out hate from the first round of this draft? Oh, there was plenty.

Here are the best and worst picks from the first round of the NBA Draft.

 

Worst picks

Cameron Johnson, North Carolina, Phoenix Suns - No. 11 overall

This is nothing against Johnson. He is a long athlete who can shoot the ball like crazy and he is a mature player who can contribute right away. But the Suns do not need someone to contribute right away. They are probably, at least, three years away. And they traded another piece in TJ Warren before the draft even started, so they took an even further move back.

What makes this even worse is the Suns actually traded down from sixth to take Johnson at number 11. They had a shot to take Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver, who is younger, a fantastic defender and fits the Suns' timeline. Phoenix probably could have secured Johnson eight or nine picks later. And, if they could not and another team took him with the 12th pick, then they should have let them, because the value was not right. The Suns' decision here does not make a lot of sense.

Chuma Okeke, Auburn, Orlando Magic - No. 16 overall

Okeke is athletic, he can shoot and he gives tons of effort. But he just tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and had surgery in April. He will likely be out for the entire season, and if the Magic lose Nikola Vucevic in free agency, it could be an insanely rough season in Orlando.

Orlando finally took a step forward last season by reaching the playoffs and adding a player who could contribute sooner like Nickeil Alexander-Walker out of Virginia Tech or Brandon Clarke out of Gonzaga might have both filled needs and given more immediate production. Terrence Ross could leave in free agency, as well, and Alexander-Walker could have helped that loss while Clarke would step in to fill a bit of a void left by Vucevic, even if he does not have that kind of size. This one just seems like it was not thought out all the way.

 

Best picks

Grant Williams, Tennessee, Boston Celtics - No. 22 overall

This one is actually kind of on the line of the Cameron Johnson pick. Williams was probably taken a little bit too early. He is a bit of a polarising prospect who some ranked as high as 15 on their big boards but others saw him closer to the late first round or even early second. So, the argument could be made the Celtics reached a little bit here.

But, Williams is just too perfect for the Celtics to dislike the pick. He is a hard worker who excels on the offensive boards and gets more out of his smaller frame than just about anyone in this draft. Brad Stevens will absolutely love this guy. And, he is a better shooter than people give him credit for, which also fills a need for Boston. The Celtics need shooting and Williams gives them that. It is really hard to dislike this pick.

Nassir Little, North Carolina, Portland Trail Blazers - No. 25 overall

It did not make much sense that Little fell to the 25th pick but the Trail Blazers could not care less. This is easy to write as Little was one of the top recruits in the 2018 class and has one of the highest ceilings in this entire draft.

He logically could step in and give the Trail Blazers huge minutes right away and shoots more than well enough to help the team space the floor. He has also already shown in his time at North Carolina that he does not always have to have the ball and is humble enough to take a lesser role for the betterment of the team. Portland have to be absolutely over the moon after getting Little. And, the Trail Blazers did not even have to trade up to do it.

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