Nobody is immune to mistakes, not even Danny Ainge.
When he traded away Paul Peirce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets a few seasons ago, everyone thought he was crazy. He proved them all wrong. When he drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last years NBA draft, everyone called him nuts… and he proved them wrong again.
But passing up on Giannis Antetokounmpo? That probably won’t be one he’ll get to brag about later.
In a chat with the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, Ainge explained why he elected to pass on Giannis in the 2013 NBA Draft, when they elected to sign Kelly Olynyk at 13 instead of the Greek Freak (who was still on the table):
“Giannis was a really bright talent,” Ainge recently told the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett. “He was really young. He played on a pro B team in Greece, and I saw him practice. I met him. He was very skinny.
I thought he was absolutely a worthwhile project. “But never in a million years did I see him becoming a potential best-player-in-the-league type of player. And I saw his potential as a good player because he could handle the ball, and he was long. But he was really, really skinny, and I think he was about two or three inches shorter than he is now. But what an amazing player.” And what about selecting a very, very poor man’s version of Dirk Nowitzki? “We needed shooting at the big positions,” Ainge said. “Brad (Stevens) wasn’t hired yet, but even when Doc (Rivers) was here, he liked his big guys to handle the ball some.
That’s one reason why we brought (Brian Scalabrine) in as a big that could shoot and dribble, and dribble handoffs are a big part of the game nowadays. “That’s why we like (Al) Horford and lots of guys, but Kelly was a very versatile guy that could play the 4 and the 5, and those guys are hard to find.”
The thought of Antetokounmpo playing for the C’s is one that must be pleasing to any Boston sports fan. And the reminder that Ainge chose to pass up on him five years ago must hurt.
In the end, we are reminded that not even a man as brilliant as Danny Ainge is immune to making some terrible basketball decisions.