Potential targets if Celtics enter first round

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The luxury tax proved to be of little concern to Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. Between the potential extensions of Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins and the likelihood of Golden State re-signing at least one, if not both, Gary Payton II and Kevon Looney, next season’s roster projects will cost $400 million.

That alone might not entice the Warriors to trade the 28th pick in this year’s draft. But wanting to put greater responsibility on the shoulders of recent lottery picks James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody could tempt the defending champions to part ways with their first-round selection.

What the teams are willing to offer and who is on the board when Golden State is on the counter will be the deciding factors. But according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.comthe Warriors are at least willing to accept proposals that offer future interests, including several second-round picks.

Golden State may prefer an early second-round pick this year, but if not, the Celtics, armed with the 53rd selection in this year’s draft and three second-round picks in 2023, could prove a viable business partner.

If a deal is reached between participants in this year’s Finals, potential targets for Boston include LSU’s six-foot-eight forward Tari Eason.

Eason is one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft and could hear his name called anywhere from the end of the lottery to the end of the first round. He has an NBA-ready frame, a 7-foot-2 wingspan, a standing reach of nearly 9 feet, and the biggest hands in this year’s class.

He is explosive, fast, loves contact and has high motor skills. All of this translates into him being a terrific defender who can go from one to five.

Eason’s jump shot needs fixing, and at LSU he hasn’t done much as a facilitator. But he’s great at reaching and finishing at the edge of the open field, and contact-seeking led him to an average of 5.7 free throw attempts per game last season.

If concerns over him drop him low enough on the board for the Celtics to grab him, he’s well worth a shot and he’d fit right in on defense. But Boston would need the confidence to make him a player who can contribute on the half court in a playoff environment.

Another prospect the Celtics could be interested in moving towards is Christian Braun. The six-foot-seven Kansas forward projects to make an impact as a role player at both ends of the court, serving as an effective team defender who shot 38.6% from beyond the arc the last season.

There’s some concern that Braun has made it on 3.3 attempts per year after converting 5.1 threes to a 34% clip, but it has sound mechanics, pulls the plug well, and it doesn’t doesn’t need many or consistent touches to stay in rhythm, so there’s plenty of room for upside.

As Boston looks to strengthen its bench, it could target Jaden Hardy, a microwave scorer who played for the G League Ignite last season.

He’s six-foot-four with a wingspan of nearly six-foot-nine, has the best grips in this draft class, and can create and capitalize from all three tiers.

Hardy is also an effective facilitator. The problem is that, until now, he’s been a defensive liability, and his sporting limitations suggest that won’t change. Teams have to decide if it’s worth the trade-off and if they think he’ll commit enough to the defensive side of the pitch to prove a net positive.

There are certainly more prospects that the Celtics could intrigue, but University of Southern California’s Isaiah Mobley rounds out that list.

The 22-year-old big man is the older brother of Cavalier rookie Evan Mobley. His lack of athleticism and scoring could drop him all the way outside the top 40, but there’s a lot to love about how Mobley’s game is taking it to the next level.

He’s six-foot-ten with a seven-foot-three wingspan, moves his feet well, can pass over forward fielders on the perimeter and has the strength to keep in the low post.

Mobley reads the game well on both sides. He is a very effective passer when he wins the ball on short rolls. He can also facilitate from the elbow, demonstrating good touch on entry passes and the ability to spot the open shooter in the corner and deliver an accurate pass.

He shot 35.2% from beyond the arc last season, but hit 43.6% of his attempts from long range the year before. It seems like a safe bet to bet that he will be a productive threat in the NBA.

When people look back and reframe this class, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mobley goes much higher than where he does on Thursday night.

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