The Boston Celtics have the NBA’s best record through 35 games, so there’s an argument to be made that any and all prognostications about roster moves are a waste of time.
That may be true, but this one is very interesting.
In their latest mock draft, ESPN had the Celtics taking Eastern Michigan forward Emoni Bates with their second pick (No. 47) in the second round of the 2023 NBA Draft. Why is that significant? Well, Bates is one of the most highly-touted high school prospects in recent memory.
Bates was the No. 3 prospect in the 2021 recruiting cycle, slotting in one spot ahead of Orlando Magic forward, and 2022 No. 1 pick, Paulo Banchero. Bates was the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 cycle before he reclassified to enroll at the University of Memphis in 2021. That decision proved to be costly for the now-18-year-old, who would struggle during his freshman season and ultimately transfer to Eastern Michigan.
The 6-foot-9, 190-pound forward has greatly improved on the court as a sophomore, averaging 19.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He did face some off-court trouble, however, pleading guilty to misdemeanor gun charges after taking a plea deal. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation on Dec. 15.
Given how seriously the Celtics took Ime Udoka’s violation of team rules, it feels unlikely they would go ahead and select an 18-year-old with such charges on his record. ESPN did have them making two more selections, however — both of which were interesting.
Jonathan Givony, ESPN’s NBA Draft analyst, had the Celtics taking Virginia point guard Recce Beekman with the 32nd pick and Purdue center Zach Edey with the 58th and final pick of the draft. Beekman comes from the same program as Malcolm Brogdon, while Edey is the tallest player to ever play in the Big Ten at 7-foot-4.