Al Horford has been a godsend to the Celtics this season and it’s shown where it matters most as the Celtics are 7-4 with Horford and 5-5 without him.
Horford is the prototypical 2016 center as he’s just as deadly from the outside as he is down low. That said, the Celtics could absolutely use a traditional center to complement Horford’s game.
The C’s are still getting killed on the boards this season as they rank 27th in the league as a team. How bad is it? A guard, Avery Bradley, leads the team in rebounding at 8.0 boards per game.
Luckily for the Celtics there are two teams that have already thrown in the towel on 2016-17 that have capable centers.
Jahlil Okafor, C, Sixers
The Sixers are again awful this season, but they’ll be shooting for a playoff spot next season for sure. They are out of tank mode, at least, and want to build a winning culture – a big reason as to why they will likely trade either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel before this February’s trade deadline. By doing so, they can finally rid themselves of their young, big man logjam.
Okafor’s numbers are down across the board this season, due mostly to Joel Embiid having swiped his minutes. He is averaging 11.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, down from his 17.5 ppg and 7.0 averages from his rookie campaign.
Q: Who are they going to trade, Okafor or Noel? And what’s taking them so long?
A: There is little question that Okafor has more value right now, simply because he is playing, is a proven scorer and would be a nice fit on most teams. Teams have concerns with Noel because of his injury, having had a procedure Oct. 24 on his left knee, and his inability to improve his game at the offensive end. Which one goes depends on a few things.
Andrew Bogut, C, Mavericks
Rough deal for Bogut, going from the winningest regular season team of all-time to the worst team in the NBA this year. The Mavs are 4-16 and going nowhere, so it’s highly likely that they’ll deal a veteran like Bogut off before the trade deadline.
The asking price right now is a late first round pick, but expect that to drop. From ESPN:
“Several league sources believe the Mavs could get a first round pick from a playoff team – plus whatever player(s) necessary to make the salaries work – in return for a healthy Bogut. Snicker all you want about the Mavs’ previous draft failures, but plenty of value can be found late in the first round. Take, for example, All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, who went 30th in the 2011 draft – four spots after the Mavs dumped their pick for Rudy Fernandez, who had decided by that point that he’d had enough of the NBA.”
Remember that this year’s Nets pick is under a “swap” deal with the Celtics, so the Celtics will get a lottery pick and Brooklyn will likely be picking in the 20s. Maybe the Celtics give up their 2018 first round pick to land Bogut. Given the way things are trending, that pick will also be in the 20s or lower.