All right, Boston Celtics fans: the 2014 NBA Draft is almost upon us, and it’s time for the Celtics to piss or get off the pot.
Yes, Danny Ainge, I’m talking to you! Are you going to commit this franchise to rebuilding through this, and possibly next, year’s draft?
Or are you going to treat your draft picks like poker chips and go “All-in” on a trade for an established player such as Kevin Love?
My two cents: hold onto your picks and commit to rebuilding through the draft.
Fans of the 2007 approach – that is to say, those who are foolish enough to think that Boston can bring in two future Hall of Famers in one offseason all over again – have probably already left this website in disgust, if they even decided to read this post in the first place. After all, the Celtics have won the most NBA championships in league history, and these fans want to see another championship won, now!
Trying to strike lightning twice MIGHT result in a championship banner being hung a bit sooner than it would take to win one with a team rebuilt through the draft, but if Boston’s goal is to build a team that will compete for numerous championships, this rebuild should rely heavily on the draft.
For starters, this year’s draft pool is flat-out deeper than the one staring the Celtics in the face in 2007. Check out the top ten picks from that draft:
2007 Draft Board
|Portland Trail Blazers||Greg Oden, Center, Ohio State|
|Seattle SuperSonics||Kevin Durant, Forward, Texas|
|Atlanta Hawks||Al Horford, Forward/Center, Florida|
|Memphis Grizzlies||Mike Conley Jr., Guard, Ohio State|
|Boston Celtics||Jeff Green, Forward, Georgetown (to Seattle)|
|Milwaukee Bucks||Yi Jianlian, Forward, China|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||Corey Brewer, Forward, Florida|
|Charlotte Bobcats||Brandan Wright, Forward, North Carolina (to Golden State)|
|Chicago (from New York)||Joakim Noah, Forward/Center, Florida|
|Sacramento Kings||Spencer Hawes, Center, Washington|
Of these ten players, six have already been traded at least once, and only three of these players (Durant, Noah, and Horford) have ever made the All-Star Team . . . and Horford was elected as a reserve.
Scintillating stuff. With that crop of talent at their disposal, it made sense for the Celtics to pull-out the stops and rebuild through trades and free agency.
But that was then, and this is now. According to one scout who was referring to this year’s top ten, “I think all of them could make an All-Star team at some point, but they couldn’t just walk in and make it, they have to improve.” It’s hard to compare any of this year’s prospects to Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis, two guys who had Superstar written all over them, but it is conceivable to think that this year’s top ten could feature four, five, maybe even six or more future All-Stars in it.
And the Celtics are in a position to pick one of those future All-Stars, again a situation they did not enjoy back in 2007.
Furthermore, not only is the top ten of this year’s draft deeper and in possession of more potential than 2007’s, you can easily make the argument that the players who will get draft 11-20 this year are not only better than the 11-20 of 2007 . . . but in some instances would have been in the top ten of the 2007 draft! Doug McDermott (who some analysts have down as far as 14 in mock drafts!) would have been a top-ten pick in 2007, guaranteed. Elfrid Payton, Nik Stauskas and Zach Lavine also appear to be upgrades over a few of the players picked in the top ten back in ’07.
The bottom line is that the only thing 2007’s draft had over this year’s draft pool is Kevin Durant. Otherwise, this is a draft filled with many young players who are going to have healthy, productive NBA careers ahead of them. The Boston Celtics could conceivably draft a future All-Star and another player good enough to crack the starting rotation, all in the first-round.
And don’t forget: there are some solid free agents who will be on the market this summer. I always like to see a franchise use all three avenues – the draft, trade, and free agency – in order to fill its needs, but swinging for the fences in an attempt to land Kevin Love will throw the draft right out the window, AND severely limit what the Celtics can accomplish through free agency.
There are no guarantees when it comes to the draft, but this year’s talent is worth the investment, with skilled players at every position to help the Boston Celtics address a number of weaknesses. It may not be the sexy play, but holding onto their draft picks is a long-term gain for the Celtics in my eyes.