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Celtics can afford to take a chance at No. 27 in NBA Draft

Grayson Allen of Duke worked out for the Celtics earlier this month. John Tlumacki/Globe staff/Globe Staff

The benefit of having so many one-and-dones enter the NBA Draft each year is it adds depth, as sophomores, juniors and seniors who are capable players slide in the draft and make selecting late in the first round worthwhile.

The Celtics draft 27th on Thursday, the first time since 2013 they are selecting lower than 16th in the first round. The Celtics have loaded their roster with so many picks since the June 2013 Brooklyn trade that they are not desperate for young talent to contribute immediately.

So that adds some flexibility to this selection. For example, the Celtics have been searching for nearly a decade for a rim protector, and they could take a chance on 7-foot-1-inch Mitchell Robinson, who did not play basketball last season but is an intriguing physical prospect.


The Celtics don’t have to score immediately with this draft but it would help to add another productive player in the coming years who will play under a manageable contract. Kyle Kuzma, the 27th overall pick last season, earned $1.42 million last season as a rookie and that bumps to $1.68 million for his second season.

So the Celtics can afford to draft a player who won’t contribute immediately.

With the influx of one-and-dones, however, there will be talent at 27, but at the swingman position. The Celtics had Duke’s Grayson Allen in for a workout. Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo is a Danny Ainge favorite but he may not be available at 27.

USC’s De’Anthony Melton has potential but missed all of last season because of an NCAA violation and decided to enter the draft. Miami’s Bruce Brown, a Wakefield native, was limited to 19 games because of a foot injury. He is a Marcus Smart-type bulldog and worked out for the Celtics for a second time this week.


Smart’s restricted free agency could obviously the Celtics’ draft decision. If Smart gets an offer sheet that Boston refuses to match, it could have his eventual replacement step in with the likes of Brown or Allen.

Although it’s a center-heavy draft, the best prospects already will be gone by the time the Celtics pick, so their only recourse may be to take the best player available.

One player who has intrigued the Celtics is Boise State shooting guard Chandler Hutchison, who entered the draft briefly last season before returning to the Broncos for his final campaign.

And there are also a bunch of names familiar to college basketball fans who should be available at 27, such as Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, Duke’s Gary Trent Jr., Wichita State’s Landry Shamet, and Villanova’s Omari Spellman.

This draft will have its share of gems in the second round, so the Celtics could actually draft a potential All-Star at 27. Last June, the Brooklyn Nets drafted Kuzma for the Lakers and he was a first-team All-Rookie selection.

“As far as the Celtics, I think it’s a fairly deep draft,” ESPN scouting analyst Mike Schmitz said. “I think there are a lot of guys in that 20 to 40 range who can really play, and to me, there’s always going to be a guy like — not every draft, but there’s guys like Kuzma and Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen who you didn’t expect, so I think there are some of those guys in this draft, whether it’s guys who can shoot or protect or really facilitate. I think this is a very deep draft in that range.”


The Celtic traded their final pick acquired from Brooklyn, which eventually became eighth overall, to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. But the Celtics will have a decision to make at 27.

Depth among big men won’t reach 27, where the Celtics could get a formidable center who could potentially succeed Al Horford — unless someone such as Texas A&M’s Robert Williams slips.

It may come down to whether the Celtics want to take a Smart-like swingman who won’t have contract issues for another three years, such as Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie. It is still an important draft for the Celtics’ long-term future. When Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum become eligible for extensions to potentially join Irving and Gordon Hayward in the eight-figure neighborhood, the Celtics will need a solid rotational player who is inexpensive.

That player could come from this draft.

“In that 13 to 35 grouping, we’re probably going to see a flurry of 2s and 3s come on the board in that range,” ESPN analyst and former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks said. “And if you’re a team like Boston who probably doesn’t have much flexibility salary cap wise, or more Minnesota, Portland, teams like that, you’re probably going to get a pretty good rotational player if you want to get a wing. It’s like ordering off the menu, it’s just a matter of kind of which ones you want.”


We may see Thursday how the Celtics truly feel about their chances of keeping Smart long term. Or perhaps Ainge has another trick in his satchel and has an eye on a player who may have been overlooked by other clubs. It will be a fascinating choice.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.