With the No. 23 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, the Celtics nabbed the No. 13 player on my board: Ante Zizic.
Zizic remained in Europe another year, and his stock has only risen. While rest of his draft class has collectively underwhelmed, by most accounts, he has progressed well.
“I am ready for the NBA,” Zizic told Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.
Apparently, Boston agrees.
Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge, via Himmelsbach:
“July 1 just has to roll over on the calendar, and we’ll sign him,” Ainge said. “He wants to be here, and we want him here.”
Zizic will receive the (newly increased) rookie scale for the No. 23 pick in 2017.
The Celtics badly need his rebounding, but the 20-year-old might not be polished enough to handle other aspects of the NBA. At best, Zizic will offer a tradeoff in style with Al Horford and Kelly Olynyk (who will be a restricted free agent).
Long-term, I like Zizic’s potential. He plays with relentless energy, and he moves his 6-foot-11 frame well. I just wouldn’t count on him to make major contributions as a rookie, a high bar for anyone.