Celtics hold on to No. 3 overall pick to draft Jaylen Brown

ByChris Forsberg ESPN logo
Friday, June 24, 2016

BOSTON -- The Celtics selected California freshman Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 overall pick.

Brown, a 6-foot-7 forward, joins the Celtics as the first of the team's three first-round picks in this year's draft. The pick was met with a less-than-enthusiastic reaction at Boston's draft party at TD Garden, where many in the crowd booed the pick, then booed again when Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck came out of the war room to address the fans.

"Fourteen years, that's probably the worst [reaction] I've gotten," Grousbeck said. "But I'll view this as people really care. I'll view it as, I've certainly had some of those reactions to when I've been at sporting events. Pay your money, you get to come in. Look, we're a bunch of fans who bought the team. And being a fan means you're emotional and you're emotionally invested in the team. And no problem. But I actually believe that, if those fans knew what I knew and were in that room, I think most of them might have done the same thing. But no problem. Bring it on. They are Celtics fans and they've earned the right to say whatever they want."

Boston then selected French power forward Guerschon Yabusele with the No. 16 pick and Crotian center Ante Zizic at No. 23.

The Celtics agreed to send their No. 31 pick, Michigan State power forward Deyonta Davis, and No. 35 pick, Serbian swingman Rade Zagorac, to the Grizzlies in exchange for the Los Angeles Clippers' 2019 first-round pick, which is owned by Memphis, a source told ESPN's Jeff Goodman.

Boston then added former Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson at No. 45, former Providence forward Ben Bentil at No. 51 and former Iowa State forward Abdel Nader at No. 58.

The Celtics love to zig when everyone thinks they'll zag. After engaging in trade talks for the No. 3 pick throughout Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge apparently didn't find any deal appetizing enough to bite.

Even with rumors that teams were lusting for a chance to draft Providence's Kris Dunn, Ainge & Co. took the player they believe was the best on the board when their time came. Dunn went fifth to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"In terms of trades, we weren't even close to any of the offers today. None of them were even in the mix," Grousbeck said. "So that's just the way it is. If they were close, we might have stretched. We didn't feel anything was close, and we would give counter offers, and I didn't feel it was close. ... I've been doing deals one way or another since I think 1986, 30 years, not sports deals necessarily, but just making agreements with people. And this was not a day to make a deal. This was not the right thing in our view for the Boston Celtics to make any of these deals, so we didn't."

The computer projections don't love Brown, but he'll fit an obvious need for the Celtics on the wing. The 19-year-old brings an NBA-ready and raw athleticism, but has to prove himself after a disappointing college season at Cal.

"We're very happy to build with a piece -- and maybe an important piece -- Jaylen Brown," Grousbeck said. "Danny and his staff feel that he's got significant upside. He's already an accomplished player at a young age. We feel that he's got the physique and the competitive drive, and the motor, and the skills, and really important the character and the intelligence. He's a very, very smart guy. I chatted with him a bit when he came to work out. Got to know him a bit. I went to Stanford, he went to Cal. We'll just leave that right there. We can get over that, but really impressed with Jaylen A to Z. And looking forward to having him in Celtics green, and think it's the right move for our team at this time and in the future."

In the stats-only portion of Kevin Pelton's draft projections model, Brown ranked an impossibly low 101st among all draft-eligible prospects with a WARP (wins above replacement player) of minus-0.5. While a decent number of players have been taken in the first-round teens and 20s with a negative WARP, only two players have been selected in the top 10 with a negative WARP since 2006 -- Austin Rivers (minus-0.1) at No. 10 in 2012 and Joe Alexander (minus-0.1) at No. 8 in 2008.

Rivers, traded twice (including to and from Boston), has found a bench role with his father's depth-lacking Los Angeles Clippers. Alexander has played more games in the D-League (80) than the NBA (67) and is now toiling overseas.

Boston acquired the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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