Eighteen-year-old GG Jackson, a freshman power forward for South Carolina last season, is the youngest player in the NBA draft. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

On the surface, it may not seem likely that the Boston Celtics will land an impact player in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

The Celtics don’t own a first-round pick after trading that selection to the Pacers last July when they acquired Malcolm Brogdon. They have just one pick in this draft at No. 35 overall in the second round. Victor Wembanyama and the rest of this year’s top-end talent will obviously be long gone by then, but that doesn’t mean the Celtics can’t find a hidden gem.

A glance at the history of players selected at No. 35 reveals that to be true. Draymond Green was drafted there by the Warriors in 2012 and became a fixture of their dynasty. DeAndre Jordan was picked at No. 35 in 2008 and has carved out a good career.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis was the 35th choice by the Sonics in 2007 on the night he was traded to the Celtics in the Ray Allen deal. The year before, in 2006, P.J. Tucker was taken by the Raptors. As the Celtics fully know, he’s still been a factor over the last handful of postseasons.

Look farther than No. 35 for more proof that the Celtics can find someone plenty useful in the second round. Nikola Jokic (No. 41, 2014), Khris Middleton (No. 39, 2012), Brogdon (No. 36, 2016), Jae Crowder (No. 34, 2012) and Jalen Brunson (No. 33, 2018) are among the league’s most impactful second-rounders in recent years. And you don’t have to remind the Celtics that Isaiah Thomas was the 60th and final pick in 2011.

This is all to say, this isn’t some throwaway pick for the Celtics. They can certainly grab someone on Thursday who can help their championship pursuit in the coming years.


So, who might be on the board for the Celtics on Thursday night? A look at some possibilities:


The power forward was regarded by some as the top prospect in the 2022 high school recruiting class before committing to hometown South Carolina, where he showed flashes of his potential – he was the second-highest scoring freshman in the SEC behind lottery pick Brandon Miller – but had some growing pains as a freshman that will likely force him to slide down to the late first round or early second. At 6-foot-9, 215 pounds, Jackson has the physical tools and raw ability for the next level. He’s a natural scorer with promise defensively. At 18 years old, he’s the youngest player in the draft and will be something of a project. A situation like the Celtics might suit him as he grows into his upside.


A fraction of Celtics fans would welcome the selection of Jackson, an athletic wing who was key in helping UConn win a national championship. The 6-foot-6 Jackson projects as a strong, versatile defender at the NBA level but his lack of offensive pedigree lands him as a likely second-round choice. Jackson was just a 28.1 percent 3-point shooter as a junior on only 2.5 attempts per game and struggles to create his own shots. He’ll certainly need to improve on that end but his defense will get him on the floor early in his career.



The power forward was one of the best players in the country and a first-team All-American this season for good reason. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound high-flier is an athletic and versatile big who can leap above defenses and work efficiently around the basket with advanced post moves and rim attacks on lobs. He should excel in the pick-and-roll game with his playmaking ability as a big, and he has the versatility to defend at a high level after blocking nearly three shots per game in college. He’ll need to improve his outside shooting – he only took three 3-point attempts over four college seasons – to become more of a factor, but he has great upside. The Celtics, in need of more frontcourt depth, could be a fit.


There’s a good chance Jaquez doesn’t even reach the second round. Some mock drafts have pegged the forward as a mid-first selection, while others have him in the second. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on him. But if he falls to the Celtics, they would be getting a mature and polished player who has drawn comparisons to Kevin McHale with his advanced footwork and post ability. He may be a step slow defensively but can make up for it with his hustle and instincts on that end of the floor. Like others in this spot, he has major room for improvement with his 3-point shooting – he was a 32.8% shooter from downtown over four years at UCLA – but has the makeup and talent in other areas to be an impact player at the next level.


Phillips could have stood to raise his stock and develop some more after spending just one year in college but he still has great upside as a likely late first or early second-round pick. He’s one of the most athletic wings in this draft – he posted a vertical of 43 inches, the best in this year’s combine – and the 6-foot-7 forward brings an active, strong and versatile presence defensively. He’s a strong rebounder and playmaker but has significant room for improvement offensively, where he struggled to shoot from deep as a freshman. His 82.2% mark at the free-throw line suggests he can improve his shooting. With a few more years of development, he could be a solid rotation piece and wing depth behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

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