Celtics in Prime Position to Make First Impact Draft Pick Since 2006


April 22, 2010

Celtics in Prime Position to Make First Impact Draft Pick Since 2006 After the Celtics began the regular season with high hopes and certain team members made bold predictions about a potential 72-win season, it's hard to be satisfied with 50 wins and a surprisingly low No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

But if you're one of those glass-half-full C's fans and you're searching high and low for a silver lining, then here's one: For the first time in a while, there's a chance for the NBA Draft to be relevant in Boston again.

Let's recap some recent history.

Last year, the Celtics had only one pick in the NBA Draft, and it was No. 58. Their first-rounder had been traded to Minnesota two years prior for Kevin Garnett. At the end of the second round, the C's drafted Lester Hudson. They waived him a few months later.

In 2008, the Celtics picked dead last, by virtue of their NBA-best 66 wins that season. At No. 30 in the draft, they got J.R. Giddens; in the second round they ended up with two late picks and they ended up with Bill Walker and Semih Erden. None of the above have been impact players in Boston, obviously.

In '07, the Celtics were blessed with the No. 5 overall pick, but they traded it to Seattle on draft night for Ray Allen. They ended up with two second-rounders instead — they struck gold with one and nabbed Glen Davis and struck out on the other with Gabe Pruitt.

To recap: It's been four years since the Celtics made a draft pick higher than 30th.

That pick was Rajon Rondo.

In 2006, the Celtics used the Suns' first-round selection to take Rondo at No. 21 overall. In Rondo, they got one of only two All-Stars in the '06 draft class. They haven't had a chance to take another one.

By finishing in a four-way tie for the ninth-best record in the NBA at 50-32, the Celtics found themselves in a random drawing for the No. 19 pick in the draft, up against Portland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

They won it.

With the No. 19 selection this season, the Celtics have a chance to draft an impact guy for their rotation next season and beyond.

For the Celtics, the beauty of this pick is that they have no glaring needs. They're set up for a long time with a franchise point guard in Rondo. They've got their floor leader defensively in Garnett and offensively in Paul Pierce. They've got size and strength down low with Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace.

Without having to draft for need, the Celtics can simply focus on taking the best player available. And that's always the best place to be.

The one thing they could use is a little extra scoring punch. Not only are Pierce and Garnett getting on in years and losing their explosiveness, but there's a chance of Allen leaving this summer via free agency, leaving the Celtics short one scoring threat.

The natural man for that role is James Anderson, the bulky 6-foot-6 swingman out of Oklahoma State whose game resembles that of a young, raw Paul Pierce. Anderson blossomed into one of the nation's leading scorers this winter at 22.3 points per game and was named Player of the Year in the Big 12. (The last OSU man to earn that honor? Tony Allen. Maybe you've heard of him.)

There are other options, too. Danny Ainge will surely consider Aubrey Coleman, the 22-year-old Houston shooting guard who led the nation in scoring. There's Gordon Hayward, the Butler sophomore who led the Bulldogs on their Cinderella run to the NCAA Tournament final this spring. There's Paul George, a long, wiry sophomore forward out of Fresno State in the mold of a poor man's Kevin Durant.

There are many, many more options, too. It's still early in draft season, and there's still plenty more speculation ahead before we get to the bottom of this. But already, there's excitement in the air about the Celtics' potential.

We'll all be waiting for the Celtics this spring to make their next coup of a draft pick. To get the next Davis, the next Rondo, the next Perkins or T.A. The next big thing in Boston.

Can they strike gold again? We shall see.

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