Danny Ainge has been quite successful in his job as the mastermind behind the Celtic’s rebuild, owning a lot of assets and interesting youngsters that perfectly seem to fit the needs of Brad Stevens.
Thanks to all those moves Ainge has made, the Celtics have a lot of talented and highly ranked youngsters and enough cap space to lure veteran stars to the TD Garden to try and pursue yet another championship for the most successful franchise in NBA history.
Nevertheless, the Celtics have also screwed things up a bit over time, especially come draft night, where they’ve been known for using a high risk - high reward approach over their franchise history. So today, we’ll take a look at the top 5 mistakes the C’s have ever made during the NBA Draft.
5. Gabe Pruitt (2007 NBA Draft)
Ainge managed to land both Ray Allen and Garnett during the 2007 offseason, but that outstanding move didn’t stop him from completely messing it up during draft night, going with Gabe Pruitt, a major flop that didn’t help the team in any given aspect of the game. Marc Gasol was one of the biggest steals in NBA Draft 2007, and Gabe Pruitt played only 2 seasons with the Boston Celtics.
Marc Gasol is now one of the best centers in the league, and I bet that 99% NBA fans didn't hear for Gabe Pruitt.
4. Ron Mercer (1997 NBA Draft)
Mercer seemed like he was going to be a huge superstar after leading Kentucky to the national championship in the late 90’s, but he was never more than just an average player during his NBA stint, especially during his first couple of seasons.
Of course, that’s not the C’s fault and it shouldn’t be considered a flop, but if you notice the fact that drafting Mercer took the chance away of landing Tracy McGrady, you’d think otherwise. Could you just imagine how much of a dominant squad Boston would’ve been if they’ve paired T-Mac and Pierce? Perhaps McGrady would wind up winning that desired NBA championship he was never able to land.
3. Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger (2012 NBA Draft)
Sullinger looked like a very interesting prospect coming into the 2012 NBA draft, showing glances of range with an over the average rebounding ability, something he was never able to actually prove on an NBA court despite having a lot of chances to do so, while Fab Melo was one of the biggest NBA draft flops in league history.
With that couple of picks, Ainge tried to fulfill his need for a big man at the Garden, and he could’ve done so if he had chosen the versatile standout out of Michigan State, Draymond Green. The rest, as you know, is history.
2. Kendrick Brown and Joe Johnson (2001 NBA Draft)
The C’s took an outstanding talent in Joe Johnson in 2001 just to deal him, while they decided to keep Kendrick Brown, a very odd gamble considering the fact that he wasn’t even part of an important basketball program and hasn’t shown anything that may make people think that he could be a relevant player in the Association.
But if that wasn’t bad enough, they wasted a pick on a guy that didn’t even last 5 full seasons in the NBA, missing on the chance to land incredible talents like Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas or Zach Randolph, leaving Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker pretty much alone on an island.
1. Antoine Walker (1996 NBA Draft)
And without any single kind of doubt, their greatest mistake has to be choosing Antoine Walker. Of course, he had a very decent run with the Celtics, being Pierce’s sidekick in their playoff runs as a very dominant player on both ends of the court.
Nevertheless, they could’ve gone with a guy named Kobe Bryant, who was taken with the 13th pick in that very same draft, and even if it would’ve been very hard for Bryant and Pierce to coexist on a locker room, NBA history would’ve changed drastically if the C’s would’ve trusted the Mamba.
Did you ever see this photo?