The Boston Celtics wouldn’t have botched the 2007 NBA Draft, if we’re to believe a recent report.
The Portland Trail Blazers infamously selected Greg Oden with the No. 1 overall pick that year after winning the NBA Draft Lottery. Kevin Durant went No. 2 to the Seattle SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder) and since has evolved into one of the game’s elite players, while Oden played in just 105 career NBA games due to various injuries before going overseas to play in China.
Things reportedly would have played out much differently if Boston, not Portland, had won the lottery. The Celtics, who had the second-worst record during the 2006-07 season (and, in turn, a 19.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft), would have selected Durant over Oden, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg.
“Those who know (Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge) best swear that he would have picked Durant No. 1 in the 2007 draft over Greg Oden had the pingpong balls bounced Boston’s way,” Forsberg wrote before the Celtics hosted Durant’s Thunder on Wednesday night at TD Garden. “Ainge’s son Austin, currently Boston’s director of player personnel, wasn’t a team employee in 2007, but he noted in June 2014 that, ‘I was in the draft room, and they would have taken Durant. I did have some inside information there.’ His story has been vetted by Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck.”
Everything worked out OK for the Celtics, who ended up with the No. 5 overall pick following some bad luck in the lottery. They traded the pick to the Sonics for Ray Allen and later acquired Kevin Garnett in a blockbuster deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, paving the way for an NBA title the following season.
But those days are over, and Durant is set to hit free agency this summer, at which point the Celtics, among others, are expected to make a push for the seven-time All-Star. Maybe Ainge can play up the fact the Celtics always had eyes for Durant when he makes his sales pitch.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images