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What If? A Look At Celtics’ Recent Draft History

A day after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Draft Lottery and will pick first in the 2011 NBA Draft, it’s time to look back on how the Celtics have done/not done this past decade in the draft.

Of course, it’s natural for the Boston Celtics to flop on the draft lottery night. Historically, the most famous was in 1997 when San Antonio snuck up behind the C’s and stole Tim Duncan and a few rings right from under our nose. Boston had two chances in that draft to get the No.1 pick, but the ping pong balls didn’t roll their way. It didn’t stop there…

2001

It was not the strongest drafts ever, as Pau Gasol happened to be the best player in draft, but the C’s still managed to mess things up. Boston drafted Joe Johnson with the 10th overall pick, played him 48 games and then traded him to Phoenix in a deal to get Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk. The Celtics were more focused on the “now” for the trade, even though Johnson was a good contributor on the team. Boston traded away a player who would go on to average 17.7 points per game and become one of the highest (over)paid players of all time.

The Celts also missed out on players like Gerald Wallace and Tony Parker, but they did draft Kedrick Brown at No.11 overall. That pick worked out really well.

2002

The team’s only pick in the draft was Darius Songaila, because they traded Joe Johnson and their 2002 first round pick the previous year.

But, if the C’s kept the 22nd overall pick, they could have gone with Carlos Boozer, Tayshaun Prince, Luis Scola, Nenad Krstic (oh wait?), or Dan Dickau (wait?). Aside from Boozer, Prince and Scola, there weren’t many players to pick from. At least ones that made an impact in the NBA.

2003

The Celtics drafted Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones, then traded both to Memphis and received Marcus Banks and Kendrick Perkins. I know Bell never worked out, but Jones is still a decent defender in the league and has more value than Banks has ever had. Perkins worked out, until Celts traded him of course.

Boston missed out on David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams and Leandro Barbosa. It would have been nice to have West down in the post or Williams to run the point, but I guess a championship with Perkins was for the best. 2003 was not the worst for the Celtics, but it was also one of the best draft classes of the decade.

2004

This was by far my favorite draft class of the decade for the Celtics. With the No. 15 overall pick, Boston selected Al Jefferson, and grabbed Delonte West and Tony Allen with the No. 24  and No. 25 picks before grabbing Justin Reed in the 2nd round. With Jefferson, West and Allen all in the mix, I thought for sure that those three could become a strong core and last a long time in green. Of course, Allen was the only one who got a ring, but Jefferson and West were involved in the trades that brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, respectively.

Now, Allen just made a deep run for his second ring, Jefferson is a strong 20-10 player and West is back on the Celtics. Each player has been successful and has brought success to the Celtics in one way or another.

Who the C’s missed out on: Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Jameer Nelson, and Trevor Ariza. I would think about taking Josh Smith over Jefferson, but I’d be happy with either one.

2005

This was another overall weak draft class, with the best players being Chris Paul and Deron Williams. With the No. 18 overall pick the Celtics selected Gerald Green, one pick behind Danny Granger. Boston also selected Ryan Gomes in the 2nd round. Green played well here and there but never became an impact player in the league (except for the dunk contest). Gomes is still around and has turned into a solid bench player.

If Boston didn’t take Green, they could’ve had: David Lee, Monta Ellis, Lou Williams, Nate Robinson(?), or Von Wafer (?). Had the Celtics picked either Williams or Ellis, they would’ve had to take them with the 18th pick because both players went early in the 2nd round. I would’ve much rather had Lee or Ellis over Green, but at least he dunked for our team (at the time)!

2006

In this draft, the Celtics got the absolute steal, literally. Boston ended up acquiring Phoenix’s first round pick, Rajon Rondo, for a future first round pick. The team also picked Randy Foye at No. 7 overall, but dealt him to Minneapolis for Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff (not the best trade ever). Rondo turned out great and the team’s 2nd-round pick Leon Powe did pretty well himself.

The C’s did miss out on Rudy Gay, Patrick O’Bryant (nevermind), J.J. Reddick and Paul Millsap. I would’ve preferred Gay over Telfair and Ratliff any day, but I guess that’s just the way things go.

It is worth noting though that Ratliff’s expiring contract became pivotal in the trade for Kevin Garnett the next summer.

2007

This was the big “what if” year. Coming into the lottery, Boston had the second best chance for either the first or second overall picks, but ended up with No. 5 overall. Had the Celtics landed the No. 1 or 2 overall pick, would the team still had traded it away for Ray Allen? That is a question that could be asked for years, but after the 2008 championship, it’s hard not to accept the fact that Celts didn’t get the pick they deserved and still won.

Going into the lottery, Boston could’ve landed Greg Oden, Al Horford or Kevin Durant of all players. Its hard to imagine the Celtics with Durant but if he was available there’s no way I would’ve made the trade for Allen with a player like Durant. So the C’s selected Jeff Green with the No. 5 overall pick and then traded him in a deal to get in Allen and 2nd rounder Glen Davis from Seattle. The Celtics also drafted Gabe Pruitt in the second round.

This was a deep draft class as most players have played a significant role at some point in their careers. So the biggest loss for the Celtics was not getting the opportunity to get Durant or even Horford. Other notable players taken: Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Jared Dudley, Rudy Fernandez, Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry, and Marc Gasol.

2008

After just winning the championship, the Celtics had the No. 30 pick in the draft and selected J.R. Giddens. He played a very small role in Boston, but there weren’t many players after him. One of the players after him was Bill Walker, whom the Celtics traded for mid-way through the 2nd-round. Walker’s stay in Boston was also short-lived as he was traded to New York in the Nate Robinson trade in 2010.

Players the Celtics missed out on: Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, and Omer Asik. It was very slim on the back end of this draft. The Celtics also picked up Semith Erden with the last pick in the draft (he eventually joined the roster in 2010 before being traded away).

2009

It was an uneventful draft for the Celtics as the team traded away it’s first-round pick to the Timberwolves. The T’wolves took Wayne Ellington with the pick. Other players who would’ve been there: Toney Douglas, Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, Jodie Meeks, and Chase Budinger. Most of those players are role players but could develop into starters down the road.

The only player selected by the Celtics was Lester Hudson, who has been released several times before ending up in China.

2010

Boston selected Avery Bradley with the No. 19 overall pick and is still considered to be a work in progress. He has a lot of talent and could very well be an impact player in the NBA, but it just might take a few years. Also available at this selection were: Jordan Crawford, Greivis Vasquez, Daniel Orton and Landry Fields.

The Celtics also selected Luke Harangody in the second-round, but he was later traded to Cleveland.

2011?

This year, the Celtics will have another late first-round draft pick and with the draft class being so weak, don’t look for any impact players coming in this year.

So, as Boston has had it’s chances to pick No. 1 overall, it hasn’t happened in a long time and if the team stays in contention, it won’t be happening any time soon either. Although there have been some questionable selections for the Celtics, there have also been some surprises like Rondo, Glen Davis (both via a trade), and Al Jefferson and Leon Powe, to name a few.

It might be hard to forget that the Celtics could’ve ended up with a team featuring Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Josh Smith, Mo Williams or David Lee, but sometimes the balls don’t fall Boston’s way and that’s what we have to live with.

Whoever it is this year, hopefully that player will learn from the best and play strong. That is all we can ask for.

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