Celtics select Jaylen Brown with No. 3 overall pick in draft
BOSTON (AP) With little mystery surrounding how the first two picks would go in Thursday's NBA draft, the Celtics responded to wider theories about selection No. 3 by keeping things simple.
Despite receiving a lot of interest from teams looking to trade into the slot, Boston stayed put and took Jaylen Brown of California.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stuck with his plan to select the best available player.
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said after Brown was selected that none of the offers were worth serious consideration.
''If they were close, we might have stretched,'' he said. ''We didn't feel anything was close and we'd give counter offers and the other side didn't feel it was close.''
''A lot of discussion, and no deals'' despite a lot of interest, Ainge said.
Brown worked out twice for the Celtics leading up to the draft, but said the pick still took him by surprise.
''I had no idea, I promise you I had no idea,'' Brown said from New York. ''I was actually sweating bullets when the final seconds came in. But I knew they were heavily interested when they asked me to come back for a second workout. But you hear different things every day.
''But I'm glad to be here, and I think it's the right fit.''
Brown, a 6-foot-7 forward out of California, averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game en route to being named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
He also has a reputation as an elite defender, which could fit well with Boston's defensive culture.
''It was a tough choice. A lot of good players at three,'' Ainge said. ''But unanimously, a lot of people really liked Brown.''
Boston entered the night with eight total picks, the most picks the Celtics have had since 1987. Before this year, it had a top-three pick only three times since the common draft era began in 1966.
They added a pair of international players with their remaining two first-round picks, taking Guerschon Yabusele at No. 16 and Croatian 6-11 center Ante Zizic at No. 23.
In the second round Boston selected former Michigan State forward Deyonte Davis and Serbian swingman Rade Zagorac with the 31st and 35th picks, which Ainge confirmed were traded to Memphis for a future first-round pick. It 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 20-year-old Yabusele is a 6-7 stretch forward out of France with paint presence at 260 pounds, while the 19-year-old Zizic is a throwback big man at 6-11. It is possible both could be stashed in Europe for a few years to develop.
Zizic said he hadn't spoken to the Celtics about their plans for him yet. Yabusele said he was fine with waiting for his opportunity.
''It's not a problem for me even if I got to go one year, two years in Europe, in another country and play I'll go,'' Yabusele said. ''I just want to play in the NBA and try to be better.''
Boston has a handful of free agent decisions to make this offseason, but entered the draft hoping to land an additional wing scorer and frontcourt players to fortify its interior defense.
The addition of Brown adds some wing scoring ability to a roster that already features All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
Ainge said in the weeks leading up to the draft that he believed there was quality talent beyond the top two picks.
Grousbeck said no offers for No. 3 were worth pouncing on.
''This was not a day to make a deal,'' Grousbeck said. ''So we didn't. And we're very happy to build with a piece, and maybe even an important piece.''
While that sounds completely reasonable, about 4,000 fans who were invited to TD Garden for a draft party Thursday didn't exactly agree.
When Grousbeck walked out to speak to the crowd shortly after the pick was announced, he was greeted with more than a smattering of boos.
Grousbeck didn't take any offense to the reception.
''I'll view this as that people really care,'' Grousbeck said. ''You pay your money, you get to come in.''
Brown said he wants to prove his doubters wrong.
''I can't wait to show them what I'm all about,'' he said.
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