How Celtics could land a sneaky good draft pick from Rockets


We know: If you're a Boston Celtics fan, your attention is probably on the Eastern Conference playoff picture and who the C's might face in the first round.

But we're here to tell you why you should root for the Houston Rockets down the stretch.

The Celtics own the rights to the Rockets' 2023 second-round pick, with one caveat: the pick is top-32 protected. That means if Houston has the No. 31 or No. 32 selection, it conveys to the Indiana Pacers instead of Boston, but if the Rockets finish anywhere other than dead last or second-to-last in the NBA, the pick goes to the Celtics. (H/t to Mass Live's Brian Robb.)

What needs to happen for Celtics to clinch No. 2 seed in East?

Houston currently owns the NBA's second-worst record at 20-60, so if the season ended today, that No. 32 pick would go to Indiana. But the Rockets' upset win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday moved them just 0.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs (20-59).

The upshot? If the Rockets win one of their final two games (at Charlotte, at Washington) and the Spurs lose out, they'd jump to the No. 33 pick, which then would convey to Boston.

Why should Celtics fans care about a second-round draft pick? High second-round picks actually have sneaky value because teams can offer non-guaranteed contracts to those players (unlike first-rounders, who have higher salaries and need at least two years of guaranteed salary).

There's also talent to be had in Round 2: Early second-round picks since 2016 include the likes of Jalen Brunson, Nic Claxton, Herb Jones and Celtics Sixth Man of the Year candidate Malcolm Brogdon. (Two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic was a second-round pick as well, going 41st overall in 2014.)

While the C's dealt their 2023 first-round pick to Indiana in the Brogdon trade, getting pick No. 33 would be a nice consolation prize for Brad Stevens and Co. Either way, they should have a high second-round pick; Boston also owns the Portland Trail Blazers' second-rounder, which currently sits at No. 35 overall.

The Celtics haven't picked higher than No. 45 since Stevens took over as president of basketball operations in 2021, but perhaps an early second-round pick could yield a somewhat intriguing prospect for Boston.

Contact Us