We've seen countless draft-night success stories in recent years under the regime of Celtics GM Danny Ainge. Whether he's picking late in the first round or well into the second, Ainge knows how to scout talent and make a shrewd deal when necessary.
But the Celtics haven't always had such good fortune at the draft. In fact, they've had more than a half-century of disastrous draft picks. For every Rajon Rondo or Kendrick Perkins, there have been a whole lot of calamitous events like these:
The Original Bust
The NBA didn't technically exist until 1950 — it was then that the National Basketball League (NBL) merged with the Basketball Association of America (BAA) to form the Association as we now know it. So it was in 1950 that the Celtics had the first pick ever in an NBA draft — and they used it on Chuck Share, a center out of Bowling Green. As it turns out, Share never played a minute with the Celtics, starting his career with the Fort Wayne Pistons and later catching on with the Hawks and briefly the Lakers. He never blossomed into a star, and he was out of the league by age 32.
The Celtics were blessed with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1986 draft, and they used it to select Len Bias, who had just graduated from Maryland as one of the best players in ACC basketball history. Bias was thrilled to be selected by the defending champion Celtics — so thrilled, in fact, that he returned home to the UMD campus in College Park and overdosed on cocaine at a party with his old college friends. Bias died within hours and never got a chance to wear Celtic green.
Insult to Injury
The summer of 1997 got off to a bad start for the Celtics. With the second-worst record in the NBA at 15-67, the C's were in prime position to win the lottery for the first time in their history, earning the rights to the clear No. 1, a kid out of Wake Forest named Tim Duncan. But Boston was robbed by a 20-62 San Antonio team, forced to settle for the draft's No. 3 pick (Chauncey Billups) and the No. 6 (Ron Mercer). Billups was traded in his first season, then became a five-time All-Star and a Finals MVP; Mercer was a bust and went three picks before a seven-time All-Star, Tracy McGrady. By the way, that Duncan kid has four rings now.
Kedrick Brown. If you've never heard of him, I can't blame you. But he went 11th overall to the Celtics in the 2001 draft, and it's sickening to think of all the players the C's passed up in that incredibly deep '01 draft class. Just to name a few: Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas, Gerald Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph and Troy Murphy. The Celtics instead opted to waste a lottery pick on a guy who would never earn a steady job in the NBA and was done for good at age 23. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Chris Wallace era.
The Telfair Trade
This was one of the few mishaps of the Ainge era. The Celtics' GM had initially made a steal of a No. 7 overall pick by taking Randy Foye out of Villanova, a rising star at shooting guard and a sure thing in the NBA. But Ainge immediately shipped Foye to Minnesota in exchange for Sebastian Telfair, a former high-school star who was all hype and no results. The T-Wolves then flipped Foye to Portland, and what did they get? None other than Brandon Roy, who's now a three-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA selection at 25. Imagine Roy in Celtic green.
Never Trust Ping Pong Balls
Finally, we land in 2007, when the Celtics were in prime position in that summer's draft lottery to land one of the two most-anticipated picks in draft history, Ohio State's Greg Oden or Texas' Kevin Durant. They were favored to land one of the top two, nabbing a franchise player to turn everything around, but they ended up settling for the No. 5 overall pick, their worst possible scenario. Hello, Jeff Green.
But we all know what ended up happening in 2007. The Celtics flipped Green's rights to Seattle for Ray Allen, they dealt for Kevin Garnett the following month, and within a year, the Celtics were champions.
Maybe the draft hasn't been so unkind to these Celtics after all.