With the NBA draft just under two weeks away, I take a look back at 2016 NBA Draft for the Boston Celtics. Who did they get? Who did they miss? Who slipped through the cracks? How did it help pave the way for the future?
Going back three years to the 2016 NBA Draft, the consensus number one overall pick was Ben Simmons. After him, Brandon Ingram was the next best player and then it was kind of “who likes who” type of draft. Some people loved Dragan Bender, Big East hoop heads loved Kris Dunn out of Providence (me being one of them) and then there were some people talking about this kid Jaylen Brown from California.
Buddy Hield was great for Oklahoma, leading the nation in three-point shots and winning the Wooden Award his senior year. Jamal Murray was another sharpshooter coming out after his freshman year at Kentucky. He was a third team All American, having averaged 20 a game for Coach Cal.
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You also had guys that had “upside.” I personally hate when teams pick on “upside.” I always look back to the 2005 NBA draft when Marvin Williams was picked ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams because he had “tremendous upside.” We all saw how that worked out.
Upside guys in this draft were: Marquese Chriss, Thon Maker, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere. All of whom have laid a collective “pupu platter” in the NBA to date. Maker had a few decent playoff games versus the short-handed Celtics last year and Chriss is remembered for his fist fight this year with Serge Ibaka.
There are always a bunch of players that played for good coaches and programs, led teams to conference championships, NCAA berths and stayed three or four years to work on their game and develop. In the first round those guys were: Hield, Denzel Valentine (19.2 points per game and AP POY), Caris LeVert (16.5 points per game) and Brice Johnson (1st Team ACC and All American).
In the second round you had most notably, the Rookie of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon out of Virginia. Some undrafted players that have made their way into NBA rotations are: NCAA Tournament Champion and MOP, Ryan Arcidiacono, Yogi Farrell and the Wichita State duo of Ron Baker and 2019 playoff legend Fred Van Fleet.
Who were some of the players Danny Ainge may have missed on? Shooting is something the Celts desperately needed this postseason so it would have been interesting to see how Jamal Murray would have worked out playing next to Tatum and Kyrie. He averaged over 18 points per game this season and 21 in the playoffs for the two-seeded Nuggets. Murray is also only 22 years old.
When the Celtics selected Yabusele with the 16th pick, it was because they couldn’t make a trade and needed to stash someone overseas for a year or two. They also took Ante Zizic with the 23rd pick in the draft. He ended up being part of the trade to the Cavs that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston, so it wasn’t an awful pick. Zizic actually never played a game for Boston.
What would have happened if they took Pascal Siakam or LeVert? Siakam averaged 20 points per game his sophomore year at New Mexico State and had a breakout year this year averaging over 16 per game for the Eastern Conference Champion Raptors.
LeVert was well on his way to his first All Star Game until he had a gruesome injury in the beginning of this year. He returned, finished the season averaging 13.7 points per game and helped lead a young Nets team to the playoffs.
Brogdon was drafted in the second round, won the Rookie of the Year and was a key contributor for the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks this year. He averaged 15.6 points per game this season but missed some time with a foot injury which could have been a big factor in the Bucks not winning the Eastern Conference.
All in all, Danny Ainge did a solid job in this draft. As much as I wanted to sport a Kris Dunn Boston Celtics jersey, Brown was a great pick and he has played solid basketball since donning the green and white. He averaged 6.6 points per game as a rookie, 14.5 as a sophomore and 13 this past year all while finding his niche on this Celtics team and playing quality defense.
He is still only 22 years old and if not traded this offseason for a bigger piece, I can see him only getting better. Brown has averaged 15.95 points per game over the last two season in the playoffs as well.
We really won’t know what the 2019-2020 Boston Celtics team will look like until July 5th (most likely). I like the direction and hope to hang on to Jaylen and let him continue to grow and develop as a player.