The Celtics were far and away the pride of the Eastern Conference, bulldozing their way to the franchise's 18th NBA championship with a talented roster built around perimeter scoring and lockdown defense.

The race to prevent Boston from becoming the first team since the 2018 Golden State Warriors to repeat as champs began with the draft Wednesday night. While it was just the start of what figures to be an active offseason around the league, Day 1 made it clear that some of the Celtics' top chasers next season may come from their own division.

Two of those teams — the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers — both made picks with an eye toward competing sooner rather than later.

Philadelphia entered the offseason with basically a blank slate and lots of salary cap room to build out a roster around stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. The 76ers began that process by picking up a shooter in former Duke guard Jared McCain.

Even before draft night opened, the Knicks were one of the NBA's most active teams, acquiring Mikal Bridges in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. They followed that up Wednesday by signing OG Anunoby to a new contract worth more than $210 million, setting them up with two of the league's top wing defenders to play alongside star Jalen Brunson.

Joining that mix will be a France's Pacome Dadiet, a 3-and-D wing out of France.

The Nets were the only one of Boston's Atlantic Division-mates without any first round picks.

Boston Celtics

Team needs: Depth. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens made it clear earlier in the week that any player selected during the draft would have a difficult time cracking their current rotation. It’s a great position to be in for a team expected to spend the balance of the offseason simply tweaking the bottom of its roster

Who did the Celtics draft: Creighton G Baylor Scheierman.  A lefty with great range from the outside, he scored more than 2,000 points in college. He won't wow you with his athleticism and his ability to improve defensively will dictate how well he translates to the next level.

Player comparison: Orlando Magic F Joe Ingles.

New York Knicks

Team needs: Not much from the draft, after agreeing to a deal to acquire Bridges from the Nets and getting Anunoby to agree on his long-term pact to stay in New York in the 24 hours beforehand.

Who did the Knicks draft: France F Pacome Dadiet. The final of four French players selected in a historic night for the country, Dadiet is just 18 years old with a lot of room to develop. He's good with the ball in his hands and has a multitude of ways to attack defenses.

Player comparison: Maybe someday Anunoby or Bridges, with an ability to guard multiple wing positions. But the Knicks have the real things now so may not even bring him over from France this season.

Philadelphia 76ers

Team needs: Just about everything. Almost the entire team — players such as Kelly Oubre Jr., Kyle Lowry and Nic Batum — ended the season with an expired contract. Team president Daryl Morey has about $65 million in salary cap space, a max contract topping $200 million to offer Maxey and plenty of questions to solve on how to finally, truly build an NBA championship contender around Embiid.

Who did the 76ers draft: McCain. One-and-done player who rapidly became the Blue Devils’ toughest competitor. Made 41% of 3s and 89% of free throws. Had two 30-point showings in the NCAA Tournament. He had two 30-point games in the NCAA Tournament to lead Duke to the Elite Eight.

Player comparison: Knicks G Jalen Brunson. McCain is roughly the same size and the Knicks All-Star and enters the league about two years younger than the former Villanova star when he was drafted.

Toronto Raptors

Team needs: Any promising player to line up alongside newly-extended All-Star forward Scottie Barnes on a talent-starved squad that traded away Anunoby and Pascal Siakam last season before slumping to a 25-57 finish and missing the play-in tournament.

Who did the Raptors draft: With the first-round pick it acquired in the Siakam trade, Toronto drafted 6-foot-4 Baylor guard Ja’Kobe Walter. Baylor’s top scorer in his lone season with the Bears, the 19-year-old Walter was also named Big 12 Freshman of the Year after averaging 14.5 points and 4.4 rebounds.

Player comparison: A promising shooter, determined driver and aggressive rebounder, Walter is also considered a versatile defender. With that mix of qualities, he’s comparable to Clippers guard Terance Mann.

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