BOSTON — The Celtics’ priorities this summer are to add some experience around their solid young core. So they didn’t enter Thursday night’s NBA draft eyeing a lot of fresh faces they’d have to find roster spots for.
Instead, they chose a young prospect they won’t feel pressure to rush onto the court anytime soon.
Boston selected 18-year-old French wing player Juhann Begarin with the No. 45 pick, the second straight year it has added an overseas player likely a few years away from playing an NBA game.
Begarin, who didn’t play college ball, has already played two years professionally in Paris and represents another opportunity for the Celtics to watch a developing player from afar, while still getting him valuable experience against top talent.
New Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said “that’s the likely avenue” for Begarin.
“A big strong versatile guard who can guard up,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy we think at his age and his body and his physical ability and the way he works and the time he’s put in so far, he’s gonna have a really good career ahead of him.”
Boston drafted Yam Madar, a 19-year-old Israeli League pro, in 2020 with its second-round pick. Madar, now 20, will play with the Celtics during summer league and could be in line to earn a two-way spot for the regular season.
Boston didn’t have a first-round pick Thursday after trading the No. 16 selection to Oklahoma City last month as part of the deal that sent point guard Kemba Walker to the Thunder.
In Begarin, the Celtics add a skilled guard with a big first step who has a constantly attacking style that could fit in nicely with Boston’s young core. He is also the 2019 MVP of Basketball Without Borders Europe and is an alumnus of the same sports training program in France that helped produce retired NBA players Tony Parker and Boris Diaw.
Last month’s OKC trade also brought back big man Al Horford, who was a member of the NBA All-Defensive team with the Celtics in 2017-18 while also posting the best assist numbers of his career.
It’s a continuation of what’s already been a busy offseason for Boston.
In addition to the trade with OKC, Stevens left the bench after eight seasons to take over for Danny Ainge following decision to retire following this past season.
His second big move in that role after trading Walker was to hire his successor, eventually deciding on former Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka, one of the preferred candidates of Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
It’s part of an ongoing effort to build around the duo as Boston tries to compete with the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
“I think we need to be mindful of our near and far-term views and at the same time add hopefully edge and some experience to our team,” Stevens said. “We know who we’re building this thing around and we know what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Story by Kyle Hightower.