The Celtics have insignificant draft capital entering the 2021 NBA Draft as Boston possesses merely one pick at No. 45 overall.
Boston, who traded its first-rounder in a deal that sent Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder, has had the exact same selection twice in the past five years. And based on those results, Celtics fans should temper their expectations regarding the organization’s second-round selection.
After all, it’s more likely than not the Celtics will get a player like Demetrius Jackson or Marcus Thornton.
… Wait, who?
Jackson, whom Boston selected No. 45 overall in 2016, played just five games his rookie season while averaging less than four minutes in those games. The Notre Dame point guard hasn’t played in the league since the 2018-19 season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Thornton, similarly, was drafted by the Celtics with the same No. 45 overall pick one year earlier. The William & Mary guard never played a game in the NBA after entering in 2015.
Of course, there are some scenarios in which teams can land a steal late in the draft. The Celtics actually had a chance to land better NBA players like local kid Jake Layman, who was taken two picks after Jackson by the Orlando Magic. Layman, who went on to play for the Blazers and most recently the Timberwolves, has played 209 games in his five-year career.
The Toronto Raptors selected Normal Powell one pick after Thornton, too. Powell, who ended the season with the Blazers after six seasons with the Raptors, has played 376 games in his career. More importantly, though, he averaged 16.0 points during the 2019-20 season before a career-high 18.6 points this past season. That would have been a nice complement to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had the Celtics drafted him.
And Powell is not alone. There are plenty of other examples of good NBA players who went that late or later in the draft. Manu Ginobili, for example, went No. 57 overall in 1999 while Kyle Korver (No. 51 in 2003), Lou Williams (No. 45 in 2005), Paul Millsap (No. 47 in 2006), Marc Gasol (No. 48 in 2007), Goran Dragic (No. 45 in 2008), Danny Green (No. 46 in 2009), Patty Mills (No. 55 in 2009) and Isaiah Thomas (No. 60 in 2011) all had respectable NBA careers.
But those are less than a dozen examples in more than two decades.
The reality is it doesn’t happen often and Celtics fans shouldn’t expect it.