What the hell did I just witness? After so much promise of a big draft night containing eight picks, including the number three pick, the Boston Celtics completely sucked it up last night at the NBA Draft.
Wyc Grousbeck, Danny Ainge and the rest of the Celtics front office failed at one of the most crucial points in the franchises storied history. In prime position to trade for a star and potentially build another championship roster, the C’s didn’t pull the trigger on the following options: Jimmy Butler, Jahlil Okafor, Gordon Hayward, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton or Nerlens Noel.
Are all of those guys necessarily stars? No, but they would all be starters on the Celtics that can play with All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. After complaining about how none of the deals were good enough for you, you completely blow the draft? Downright embarrassing. Now you’re stuck with even more average/below average talent and even worse you lost all your leverage in trade negotiations after picking two guys who nobody has even heard of in the first round.
Quite frankly, some of those guys mentioned above I wouldn’t have traded for before last night, but now? Why the hell was a deal not made? The best deal you could make was trading two second round picks for a first pick… in 2019? Are you kidding me? Ever since the Isaiah Thomas deal Ainge and Grousbeck have talked a huge game about acquiring star talent to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Boston. And what have they done? NOTHING. The one move they have made to actually make this team better is signing Amir Johnson, because he’s an All-Star, right? Re-signing Jonas Jerebko. He sucks.
You needed to go out and get a star to even try to coax a free agent like Kevin Durant and AL Horford, who were long shots to even visit Boston, but there’s always a chance. Now, with the embarrassment that was last night, this team might be further away from winning a championship than they were at the end of the season.
The first of eight scheduled picks for the Celtics was third overall, which Boston used to take Cal one-and-done freshman wing Jaylen Brown. Brown is strong, athletic and toolsy but his game is still catching up to him. He can’t shoot (one of the Celtics’ major needs), can’t dribble and is turnover prone and isn’t a strong passer. Boston needed offensive talent, and Brown doesn’t have that, yet.
Moving on to what he can do, Brown can finish above the rim with ease and is a strong defender and can guard multiple positions. He’s a smart kid and brings that intelligence to the court. While he’s definitely a project, his potential is one of the highest in the draft.
That being said, this is the wrong pick. The Celtics already said they weren’t moving him, but if you really wanted to get a star, you would have drafted Kris Dunn and waited for someone to panic and offer a deal for him. Also, if you’re in the mindset of winning right now, you have to choose someone who can help you win… right now. Brown needs some time to develop, but by that point, who knows where the Celtics will be at?
Where do I begin on these next two picks, because I have no words to describe the atrocities that were the #16 and #23 selections. At #16, the C’s drafted French forward Guerschon Yabusele, who was projected by everyone to be a 2nd round pick. He’s a certain draft and stash candidate, which is fine considering the C’s depth, but this is one of the biggest reaches of the draft.
He’s an undersized power forward, but has a pretty good shot to make up for it. Yabusele has a big build and it shows in his solid rebounding numbers. But once again, this is a pick where the C’s should have gone with a player that can help them immediately, such as Marquette’s Henry Ellenson.
With the #23 pick, Boston once again went overseas to draft big man Ante Zizic. He’s the third straight player that won’t be able to help the Celtics get to where they want to be. On top of that, he does not hold much trade value if the Celtics wish to include him in a deal for a premier player. He will soon be added to a mediocre front court full of players just like him.
In the second round, the Celtics actually made some good picks. At pick #51, Ben Bentil is a good stretch four and Demetrius Jackson somehow fell to #45, where Boston scooped him up. Jackson has the potential to be one of the steals of the draft if he can maneuver his way through a crowded backcourt that still somehow includes Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and RJ Hunter.
The new challenge for Boston is figuring out a way to get all six of these guys on the court this year. Move at least two of them, please. I beg you. Go out and trade for Nerlens Noel or somebody who can actually protect the rim so you don’t get eaten alive in the paint like you did last year.
With the six new players (final player being #58 pick Abdel Nader from Iowa State, who sucks) the Celtics seemingly have 20 guys who could play on NBA rosters other than their own. If the front office isn’t willing to part ways with a bundle of these players in return for a star, the Celtics will be stuck in this rut forever.
In order to trade for a star, you need to be willing to sacrifice depth, and so far Boston isn’t willing to do that. Trading Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart or Jae Crowder won’t kill you, especially if you get a player of Jimmy Butler’s caliber. But all that seems to have gone by the wayside, and with free agency starting in a week, the Celtics look completely lost and rattled.
I have defended Ainge and Grousbeck long enough, but I’m at my boiling point. They straight up don’t know how to draft. When your best draft pick in 13 years is Al Jefferson, you don’t know what you’re doing on draft night. In 13 years, you have yet to draft an All-Star… 13!! How some people call Danny Ainge a genius is beyond me.
I gave him all the credit in the world for the trades to get KG and Ray Allen and the deals to get rid of the Big Three. But since that deal, he has been downright stupid. None of the five players who the C’s received in the deal with Brooklyn were good, so thank god the Celtics got so many picks, which so far have yielded Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown
I expect the Celtics to still try and move some pieces, but at some point these guys have to sack up and take the best offer available to them, or else they won’t be in office much longer. You have to be willing to make sacrifices to get better because in the NBA depth doesn’t win, star power does. And right now, the Boston Celtics have no star power, thus no hope at bringing Banner 18 to the TD Garden.
Cover Photo via Boston.com