The past five years have been up-and-down from a draft perspective for the Boston Celtics, as Danny Ainge made frequent trades to land the draft assets to help coach Brad Stevens to succeed. But no matter how bad the roster Stevens has been given, he still gets the most out of each team. And Boston can’t fall far enough down into the lottery to land a franchise-changing player.
In fact, the Celtics haven’t had a player selected inside the top five since forward Jeff Green in 2007 (and he was traded to the then Seattle SuperSonics on draft night)—so Ainge has had to rely on free agency and push for trades to improve the roster. How have the Celtics drafted over the past five years?
In 2011. Boston had a standard draft, owning the 25th pick in the first round and 55th in the second. The Celtics took swingman MarShon Brooks first, followed by combo guard E’Twaun Moore. Brooks was traded to the Nets for the 27th pick in forward JaJuan Johnson (who was traded the following summer to the Houston Rockets) and a 2014 second round pick. Johnson is currently playing in Russia. The Cs traded Moore, who is now playing for the Chicago Bulls, the following summer.
The Celtics got a steal in Jared Sullinger at pick 21 in the 2012 draft. Sullinger has started 98 games over the past three years for the Celtics and has improved each season since entering the league. The Celtics had a second first-round pick they acquired for Green trade in February 2011 and used it on center Fab Melo at pick 22. Melo never made an impact on an NBA court, being sent to the D-League right after performing in summer league. He now plays in Puerto Rico.
Boston’s final selection was second round swingman Kris Joseph, who spent a while in the D-League before ultimately being waived by the Celtics in January 2013. He now plays for a league in France.
In 2013, Boston made a move into the lottery from the 16th pick to select versatile 7-footer Kelly Olynyk, who remains on the roster as an effective, floor-stretching big man off the bench. Olynyk has improved offensively and defensively in both years since entering the league, and should continue to be an effective bench player for Boston. The Celtics also bought a second round pick off the Indiana Pacers to select gritty big man Colton Iverson. Iverson played in the summer league, then subsequently signed to play in a Turkish League in August and has never made an impact in the NBA.
Boston made its highest selection in this five-year period during the 2014 draft, taking combo guard Marcus Smart at No. 6, hoping he could be their point guard of the future. He looked decent last year, and there’s still hope he can grow into a big piece of Boston’s future down the line. Boston had another first round pick at pick 17 and shot for the fences with the selection of swingman James Young, who appeared in 31 games for the Celtics as a rookie but also saw several stints in the D-League. The jury is still out on both promising talents, and it should be fun to track their growth after a summer of focusing on improving their overall games.
In December 2014, the Celtics traded away point guard Rajon Rondo for a smorgasbord of talent: Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, a first-round pick and a second-round pick. So the Celtics had four picks in 2015, two in the first round and two in the second. Rumors spread about how the Celtics wanted to trade six picks to Charlotte and select the sliding swingman Justise Winslow, but the Hornets turned them down and used their pick on Frank Kaminsky.
So, the Celtics kept all their picks, first taking point guard Terry Rozier at 16th overall. He is a bit like Marcus Smart as a basketball player, but should play backup minutes this season. At No. 28 they nabbed the sharpshooting R.J. Hunter, who has played well in summer league and looked like more than just a shooter. At No. 33, the Celtics took shot-blocking forward Jordan Mickey, who could be the steal of the draft after making a big impression so far.
The Celtics used their fourth and final pick combo guard Marcus Thornton, a speedy guard from William & Mary, who hopes to translate his game to the highest level. Boston’s 2015 draft certainly has a solid group of talented and skilled prospects for Brad Stevens to integrate into their system.
Overall, Boston will struggle to compete for championships unless they strike gold in the draft despite Brad Stevens’ knack for overachieving. Free agency and trades will be key fo the Celtics to find true contender status.
They do have a large number of assets, so look for the Celtics and Danny Ainge to make the necessary moves to get this organization back to the top where they have spent so many years in the past. The right people are in charge, and now they just need the players.