The Celtics stunned by not making a stunning move at the top of the draft Thursday, keeping their pick and selecting Cal swingman Jaylen Brown, a small forward out of California.
If Brown pans out, he could be a Paul Pierce-like force in Boston, given his scoring ability. Brown was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year at Cal, averaging 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He is a prototype NBA small forward, size-wise, already. The 19-year-old is 6-foot-7 and weighs 223 pounds.
“[Danny] Ainge loves Jaylen Brown,” ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted Thursday night. “[He’s] a big, strong, athletic and versatile forward. Not a great shooter, but that’s the area he feels he can improve most. Ainge also loved the fact that he worked out against anyone and everyone – unlike all the other top guys.”
Ainge gave Brown high praise prior to the draft.
“It was an excellent workout [he had with us],” the typically reserved Ainge told MassLive.com.
Despite Ainge’s infatuation with Brown, the Celtics’ boss was furiously attempting to trade the No. 3 pick prior to the selection, according to multiple reports.
“Ainge tried – and wanted to make a deal,” Goodman said. “But he’ll be happy with Brown who can also play right away. [He’s] a physical specimen.”
In the minutes before the Celtics made their pick, the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, tweeted, “GM just texts to say Ainge has been playing hardball all day, adds, ‘By this point, he’d better walk away with something.’”
There were rumors all day that the Celtics were going to going to trade the No. 3 pick to either Philadelphia or Chicago. ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted at the start of the draft that the 76ers were offering Nerlens Noel, the No. 24 pick and the No. 26 pick and Robert Covington in exchange for the No. 3 pick.
“I’m glad I ended up where I am,” Brown told ESPN.
As expected, LSU’s Ben Simmons went to the 76ers at No. 1 overall and Duke’s Brandon Ingram went to the Lakers at No. 2. Intriguing Croatian prospect Dragan Bender went to the Suns fourth overall.