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How Marvin Bagley’s Reclassification Actually Hurts the Celtics

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Marvin Bagley III, widely considered the number one high school player in the
country, announced he would reclassify as a senior in the Class of 2017, making
him eligible to play college basketball this season pending NCAA review. The
6’11 power forward has committed to play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and is
expected to be one-and-done.

Bagley is widely projected to be the #1 pick in the 2018 draft, which features
other top tier talent such as Michael Porter Jr, Luca Doncic, Mohamed Bamba,
and DeAndre Ayton.

Boston Celtics fans rejoiced and pundits around the league insisted that the
Celtics were the biggest winners after this announcement.

I believe almost the opposite​ to be true.

The Celtics are in the extremely unique situation of owning the draft picks of
two teams projected to be near the bottom of the standings. Boston owns the
rights to their own pick and the following two:

Brooklyn Nets 1st round draft pick (unprotected)

Los Angeles Lakers 1st round draft pick (if it lands between #2 and #5)

At first glance, it seems great for the Celtics that the 2018 draft just got
stronger, but that may have a strange result that adversely affects Boston.

The chances of landing a franchise changing player in the 2018 draft have
dramatically risen since Bagley’s announcement, meaning the motivation for
every bad team to tank has skyrocketed.

This is true for every non-playoff team except for — you guessed it — the
Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.

Bad teams teams that are projected to struggle this season such as the Hawks,
Pacers, Magic, Knicks, Kings, Mavericks, and Suns will likely have one goal
towards the end of the season. To lose.

The loaded draft could lead to multiple teams falling behind the Nets and Lakers
in the standings at year-end, bumping the Nets’ pick down multiple slots and
leading the Celtics to miss out entirely on the Lakers’ draft pick.

As mentioned before, the Celtics do not receive the Lakers draft pick if it lands
at #1 or falls to #6 or later. They would instead receive the better of the
Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings picks in 2019. Marvin Bagley’s
announcement, and the extra tanking that goes along with it, may mean that
instead of a top 5 draft pick in a still loaded 2018 draft, the Celtics would
acquire a pick in the 2019 draft that just lost its biggest star.

With the 76ers pushing towards a playoff spot this season and projecting to be
even better next season, winding up with the Sixers 2019 pick would be a
disaster. The Sacramento Kings and their 11 season playoff drought provide the
best hope for the Celtics getting a good pick in the 2019 draft.

The problem for Danny Ainge is that the Kings have tons of young talent that
will be better next season, cap space to sign more veterans, and no incentive to
tank for a draft pick in the 2019 season like they do this year. A fair projection
for the 2019 pick the Celtics would receive is probably around the #9 spot.

Maybe the ping pong balls will bounce Boston’s way and they’ll end up with the
top two picks in the 2018 draft.

However, I believe it’s much more likely that a surge in tanking during the
2017-2018 season will push down the Brooklyn Nets pick, but more importantly,
lead to the Celtics receiving a 2019 1st round pick around the #9 range instead
of the Lakers top 5 pick in the 2018 draft.

About Eric Rosenthal

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