The Boston Celtics have gone into the draft lottery with a chance at the #1 overall pick three times in my lifetime. In 1997, they went all in to be as terrible as possible for a chance to get Tim Duncan, but ended up with the #3 pick. The C’s ended up drafting Chauncey Billups, who ended up being the second best player in the draft, but Rick Pitino, in his infinite wisdom, dealt Billups in the middle of his rookie season, but at least they were able to snap this picture first. In 2007, it was Kevin Durant that they wanted, but they ended up with the #5 pick. The Celtics took Jeff Green, only to package him up in the Ray Allen trade, but Green ended up coming back to Boston in 2011 in the Kendrick Perkins trade, which still makes makes me mad. This year, Celtics fans had to suffer through a bad season with the hope of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or Joel Embiid, as they ended up with pick #6. As it turns out, the Celtics just don’t have luck trying to get high picks. At least the Lakers (#7) aren’t very good at it either.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the #1 pick in the NBA Draft for the third time in four years. It’s also important to note that they’ve had three #1 picks since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach in 2010. That’s a dynasty of terribleness. No wonder he left. That team couldn’t build a championship contender if David Stern and Adam Silver gift wrapped one for them, and it looks like that’s what they did. Cleveland was actually trying to make the playoffs this year, and didn’t because they’re losers in a weak conference. This year, Cleveland had less than a 2% chance at the top pick, but they got it. Initial reports project the Cavs taking University of Kansas center Joel Embiid with that pick. I’m not sure that’s enough for them to not be back in the lottery next year. Only in Cleveland.
Now, the Celtics have to set their sights on lower tier draft prospects and trades to be made this summer. The sixth pick was the one that got them Larry Bird once upon a time, and got Portland Damian Lillard two years ago, but those players aren’t in every draft. The draft is tricky that way. Sixteen years worth of hindsight shows us that the Dallas Mavericks (#9) and Celtics (#10) were the real winners of the 1998 NBA Draft, selecting Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce who led their franchises to championships. Maybe Aaron Gordon or Haverhill, MA native Noah Vonleh could be the diamond in the rough this year that falls to them.
I wrote earlier this week about the possibility of trading for Kevin Love. I have a new theory that a Love trade is Danny Ainge’s second choice…and that newly crowned MVP Kevin Durant is the real prize. Oklahoma City is going to have to make tough decisions about the future regarding their young stars Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Celtics have assets to burn, and if they really wanted to, could make dealing one of the two best players in the NBA a little easier to swallow for OKC. This is a franchise that traded away James Harden too early, and anything short of a Title this season could cause them to overreact. Love would be nice, but Kevin Durant in a Celtics uniform, after we all collectively pined for him in 2007, would be a dream come true.
There is still a long way to go before the Celtics are really competing again, but knowing what pick they have makes the picture a little clearer going into the summer.