5 prospects the Celtics could pursue with the 27th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft

"There are players we really like at 27."

Mike Zarren and Danny Ainge watch the Boston College Eagles play the University of Maryland Terrapins at Conte Forum in December 2013.


The Celtics hold just one pick — No. 27 — in the 2018 NBA Draft.

“There are players we really like at 27,” Boston’s director of player personnel Austin Ainge told reporters earlier in June. “We evaluate the whole draft all the time, but we’ve tried to laser-focus into about 10 [prospects] at this point.”

The Celtics, of course, could assemble a trade package to move up the draft board, but if they opt to stand pat at No. 27, here’s a look at who might be available  . . .

Khyri Thomas, Creighton

Point guard Khyri Thomas told reporters at the 2018 NBA Combine he has met with about 10 teams, including the Celtics, Washington Wizards, and Los Angeles Lakers. Thomas played three seasons at Creighton, averaging 15.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. He showed consistent improvement in points, field-goal percentage, and free-throw percentage over the course of his college career.


Creighton head coach Greg McDermott had nothing but praise for Thomas, calling the 22-year-old “an absolute pleasure to coach.”

“He’s unselfish, he’s a team-first guy, his work ethic’s been incredible, [and] he has a positive attitude,” McDermott said. “You talk about guys you coach that are zero maintenance, he’s a guy that’s zero maintenance. He brought a lot to not just game night, but practice, every day, with his intensity and that smile on his face.”

Although Thomas has developed an ability to create offense and reliably make shots from both behind the arc and in the paint, his biggest strength is his aggressive defense. He boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and earned back-to-back Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors his sophomore and junior seasons.

Thomas told reporters at the combine he models his game after San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley, and “a little bit” of Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum.

“[Leonard’s] a two-way guy who does all the right things,” Thomas said. “Defensively, [Beverley’s] always bothering guys and always at it.”

Bruce Brown, Miami

According to Keith Smith of Real GM, shooting guard Bruce Brown will have a second workout with the Celtics before Thursday’s draft.


Brown — who is a Boston native and attended Wakefield High before transferring to Vermont Academy — played two seasons at Miami. His sophomore season was cut short due to a left foot injury that required surgery. Through 19 games, Brown averaged 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.0 assists.

His field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free-throw percentage all regressed his sophomore season, as Brown shot just 26.7 percent from behind the arc and 62.9 percent from the line. Although he struggled to find his range, the 21-year-old established himself as strong defender with his 6-foot-9 wingspan.

“Growing up, I wasn’t the best offensive player,” Brown told reporters at the combine. “So I had to focus on defense to try and get steals. I just love getting stops and helping my team win.”

If he develops a consistent shot, Brown has the potential to be a versatile two-way contributor. Miami head coach Jim Larranaga — whose son, Jay, is an assistant coach for the Celtics — has praised his “big-time” athleticism. Brown’s 3.75 body-fat percentage was the second-lowest among players at the combine.

Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech

Shooting guard Josh Okogie worked out for the Celtics in May.

Okogie played two seasons at Georgia Tech, where he averaged 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game his sophomore season. The 19-year-old shot 82.1 percent from the free-throw line and 38 percent from three-point range, demonstrating a level of comfort in all areas on the court.


He told reporters at the combine he would be a “game changer” in the NBA.

“If you want me to score, I’ll score,” he said. “If you want to me to get a stop, I’ll get a stop. If you need a rebound, I’ll get your rebound. I’m kind of a dynamic guy.”

Okogie recorded the fastest three-quarter sprint at the combine, finishing with a time of 3.04 seconds. He also tied for the highest max vertical jump (42.0 inches). His athleticism coupled with his 7-foot wingspan gives him the frame to space the floor and become a disruptive defender.

According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, “Okogie has the type of length, toughness and defensive versatility [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge typically covets, and he’s put himself firmly in the first-round mix with a strong pre-draft process, including an excellent showing at the combine.”

Jacob Evans, Cincinnati

Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune reports shooting guard Jacob Evans will have a second workout with both the Celtics and the Golden State Warriors before Thursday’s draft.

Evans averaged 11.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists over the course of his three seasons at Cincinnati. He shot 47.3 percent from the field and 41.8 percent from three his sophomore season. Even though Evans was Cincinnati’s leading scorer his final two seasons, his defensive contributions garnered more attention.

“I think a lot of teams like me for my defense,” he told reporters at the combine. “I can guard multiple positions, very versatile, I can switch on a big, I can switch on a guard, [and] I can also guard the wing . . . I love to dig in the defensive end and try to get my teammates to dig in on the defensive end.”

Grayson Allen, Duke

Duke shooting guard Grayson Allen visited Waltham for a workout at the Celtics’ practice facility earlier in June.


Allen played four seasons at Duke, overlapping with current Celtics forwards Jayson Tatum and Semi Ojeleye. According to Ainge, both players spoke highly of Allen — despite his somewhat controversial background. Allen was disciplined for multiple on-court tripping incidents in college, but the 22-year-old said many teams have viewed the past as “competitiveness.”

“You just have to control it, but they want a guy who brings fire,” he said.

Despite not having much of a role throughout his freshman season, Allen shined in the 2015 NCAA championship game. He scored 16 points on 62.5 percent shooting. His performance set the stage for a breakthrough sophomore year — where he averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game and earned both first-team All-ACC and second-team All-American honors.

Allen remained a consistent scoring option his final two seasons at Duke and stepped up as a leader his senior year.  He credited much of his growth and development to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“I got to learn from coach for four years,” he said. “I got to think through the game in so many different roles. My basketball IQ improved so much just by playing for him. I learned how to prepare like a pro, how to recover like a pro, how to live like a pro.”

At the combine, Allen also recorded the fastest lane agility time (10.31 seconds).