7 Stars the Celtics missed drafting by a single pick

The Celtics narrowly missed on drafting these All-Stars.
Boston Celtics, Tim Hardaway Sr.
Boston Celtics, Tim Hardaway Sr. / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The Boston Celtics do not win 17 championships without drafting well. Adding young premium talent on affordable contracts is key to any franchise building a contender. The C's current run of six conference finals appearances in eight years has been sparked by drafting Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Boston has made wise moves in other areas, but drafting has been crucial.

The draft is an inexact science. It is how players like Giannis Antetokounmpo fall into the middle of the first round and how some are not selected at all. Nailing picks is never easy and throwing in team-building context makes it even more difficult.

The Celtics have just missed on plenty of stars. Often, the next pick has turned out to be one of the year’s elite options, so here is a look. There were two caveats to be selected. The player must have made at least one All-Star appearance and had to be better than the player Boston took. It is not fair to say they missed in 1962 when they got 13-time All-Star John Havlicek. With that said, let us jump in.

7. Julius Randle

The Celtics selected Marcus Smart sixth overall in 2014. He was a crucial piece of their recent run before being traded to Memphis in the 2023 offseason. Boston made the playoffs all nine years with Marcus Smart, including losing in the NBA Finals in 2022. Smart won Defensive Player of the Year, but waiting on the board was a three-time All-Star.

The Lakers took Julius Randle seventh overall. He played just one game as a rookie because of injury but blossomed into an elite scorer in his prime. Randle has made two All-NBA appearances and is one of the best forwards in the league.

Do the Celtics have the same success if they draft Randle over Smart? It is a fair question and impossible to answer, but there is no denying the 6’8 forward is a star. He is not the only one Boston just missed taking.