The first impact felt by the cancellation of March Madness is players losing the chance to compete for the NCAA title at the national level. But there’s more to it for some. While there are those who will get drafted regardless of what would’ve happened in the tournament, there are others who could benefit from a major stretch on college basketball’s biggest stage.
Naturally, NBA teams benefit from seeing players handle the spotlight, as well. Teams typically get another look at players leading up to the draft in workouts after the college season.
But that doesn’t look realistic either, with ESPN reporting teams are preparing for the pre-draft process to be limited due to “risks associated with COVID-19.”
Like any other NBA organization, the Celtics will be impacted by an abbreviated pre-draft process. But Boston will feel the impact more than most.
Coming into 2019-20, the Celtics had a chance to walk into the 2020 NBA Draft with three first-round picks. It all depended on how things went for the Grizzlies and Bucks. The Milwaukee selection was likely to convey from the jump, given it’s a top-seven protected pick. The Memphis one was up in the air to start the season, being top-six protected, but the Grizzlies turned into a playoff team.
If the NBA decides canceling the 2019-20 season is the appropriate decision, then the Celtics will be saddled with all three first-round picks.
Now, Danny Ainge could try to move a pick, maybe multiple. But that’s become a greater challenge than it might’ve been previously. Because teams will have to rely heavily on their scouting from the college regular season. Of course, there’s plenty of time for teams to research players now since there are no live sports whatsoever for the foreseeable future, but there’s still a lot to sift through — there’s also value in studying a player in a workout setting.
On top of all that, there are some players who were still deciding on whether or not to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft. No March Madness or pre-draft workouts could lead players to the conclusion that it’s in their best interest to play another year at the college level. And this draft already wasn’t expected to have a deep class. Take out a few impactful players and Boston’s picks can lose quite a bit of value.
Even if Ainge finds a way to move the Memphis pick — which is Boston’s highest pick — the Celtics won’t be in a position to get as much back as they normally would.