By Samantha Pell
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK — While the first two picks in Thursday’s NBA draft are essentially locked in, where the drama should start to unfold is pick No. 3.
With Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram looking to go No. 1 and No. 2 overall, the Boston Celtics will have a variety of options with the third pick in the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“The Celtics control the draft right now,” ESPN’s Chad Ford said. “I think we know Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are going one and two. If they don’t go one and two it’s because Ingram went one and Simmons went two and so with the Celtics we got this interesting, challenging scenario.”
There are several candidates who could be selected third overall, including Jaylen Brown (California), Kris Dunn (Providence) and Dragan Bender (Croatia) .
There’s always some uncertainty going into the draft, forcing players so close to realizing their dreams to be patient.
“It’s driving me crazy actually,” said an anxious Brown.
In addition to the No. 3 pick — if the Celtics decide not to trade it — Boston has two other first-round draft picks, and total of eight on the night.
A look at the players who could be the No. 3 pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft:
Marquese Chriss, Washington
Position: 6-foot-9, 225-pound freshman power forward
Credentials: Averaged 13.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last year. The 18-year-old had a strong second half of the season, averaging 16.5 points per game. However, he also led the nation in personal fouls at Washington with 138. He fouled out of 15 of 34 games last year.
In his own words: “I would be extremely grateful to go that high in the draft and into that type of situation and to a team like that,” Chriss said regarding potentially being chosen by Boston at No. 3. “I mean, no team has guaranteed anybody anything really, so it would just be cool that they saw that much in me to take me at that pick.”
Jaylen Brown, California
Position: 6-7, 223-pound freshman guard
Credentials: Averaged 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and two assists per game last season. The 19-year-old helped lead California to a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament and has the physical attributes to succeed in the league. However, his three-point shooting is suspect; he shot just 29.4 percent from behind the arc.
In his own words: “People might trade up, switch their picks around. For me all I can do is focus on me. I can’t focus on what everyone else is doing. All I can do is hope that I’ll end up in the right place, but you never know.”
Dragan Bender, Croatia
Position: 7-1, 216-pound power forward
Credentials: Shot over 40 percent from three-point range last year for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Has intrigued many NBA scouts with his size, length, and offensive playmaking ability. Able to work in the post and make shots from behind the arc
In his own words: “It was really good, a really great workout,” Bender said regarding his Tuesday workout with the Celtics. “Really great people around the club and everything was really cool. It was really great meeting those guys and to have a chance to talk with them and work with them it was really good.”
Kris Dunn, Providence
Position: 6-4, 205-pound junior guard
Credentials: Averaged 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game last season. During the NCAA tournament, he averaged 22.5 points in two games. Might be the most NBA ready based on his defensive skills. He is possibly the top point guard prospect in the draft.
In his own words: “I have always wanted to be in the NBA and I’m just trying to live my dream.”
Jamal Murray, Kentucky
Position: 6-foot-5, 207-pound freshman guard
Credentials: Was a first-team ALL-SEC member, averaged 20 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game last season. The 19-year-old led the SEC in three-point field goals made with 113. The only other player to make more than 113 three-pointers as a freshman was Stephen Curry at Davidson.
In his own words: “I could help with the shooting, but any team I go to I’m blessed to be with. I’m not picking one or the other.”