Top 10 all-time Celtics draft blunders
While the Celtics have 17 NBA championships and are the most decorated basketball franchise of all-time, that does not mean their drafting record is flawless. In fact, it’s far from it.
Remember Michael Smith? No, not SportsCenter’s Michael Smith. How about Gabe Pruitt? Does Jerome Moiso ring a bell?
Even as Celtics fans proclaim “In Danny we trust” after he traded away the first overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, Ainge has made his fair share of questionable decisions on draft night.
With draft season upon us, let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember (or try to forget) the top 10 Celtics draft blunders.
10. Paul Westphal – 10th pick of 1972 draft
Westphal barely makes the list because he was a five-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA First Team selection and member of the 1974 Celtics championship team. The former USC guard had a short three-year career in Boston before he was traded to the Suns and helped them reach their first NBA Finals in 1976. This selection makes the list, though, because Julius Erving was selected two picks later. A Hall-of-Famer who played his college ball at UMass, the Celtics missed out on a franchise-changing talent. Imagine Havlicek lobbing passes for legendary Dr. J dunks…
9. Gabe Pruitt – 32nd pick of 2007 draft, Glen Davis – 35th pick (traded from Seattle)
While the 2007 offseason will likely be remembered for the acquisitions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, the C’s could have had added to an already dominant roster with a better draft. Jeff Green was the Celtics’ initial selection at No. 5, and while he was subsequently shipped to Seattle in the Ray Allen deal, he would return for an underwhelming Boston career from 2010-15. They ended up coming away with Pruitt and Davis, both of whom didn’t find great NBA success and are now out of the league. Glen “Big Baby” Davis’ playoff success aside, the Celtics could have solidified the center position by selecting Marc Gasol, who slid to 48th. Once considered Pau’s less-skilled younger brother, he has emerged to become one of the best centers in the league and could have been a dominant force in the paint for the Celtics during the Big 3 era and beyond.
8. Mel Counts – 7th pick of 1964 draft
Like Westphal, Counts won an NBA championship in Boston – two actually – but he makes the list due to what the Celtics missed later in the draft. An excellent outside shooter for his seven-foot size, Counts was in some ways ahead of his time. The Oregon State product only spent two seasons in Boston, both of which he served as Bill Russell’s backup, but was traded to the Baltimore Bullets before the 1967 season. Hall of Famer Willis Reed, one of the best centers in the game’s history, was selected eighth overall. Though Russell was still winning championships for the Celtics in the ‘60s, Reed would have made a terrific successor.
7. Ron Mercer – 6th pick of 1997 draft
Some may forget that the Celtics actually drafted Chauncey Billups with the No. 3 this year as well. While it certainly wasn’t a draft mistake, trading away Billups, then a rookie, for Kenny Anderson, Popeye Jones and Zan Tabak proved to be a regrettable move. Their selection three picks later was just as regrettable. Mercer, who won an NCAA championship with Kentucky, played only two seasons in Boston after being reunited with Rick Pitino and Antoine Walker. He was named to the All-Rookie First Team, but only averaged 13.6 points and 3.1 rebounds throughout his career. These statistics are far less impressive than those of Tracy McGrady, the Hall of Fame guard selected three picks later.
6. JaJuan Johnson – 27th pick of 2011 draft (traded from Nets), E’Twaun Moore – 55th pick
To put it lightly, the 2011 Celtics draft was a mess. They selected MarShon Brooks at No. 25 and swapped picks with the Nets, who took Johnson. Johnson only played 36 games in his NBA career, while Brooks last played in 2014. Jimmy Butler, who has developed into one of the game’s best scorers, went with the last pick of the first round. With the Celtics linked to trade rumors for the Bulls star, they may be able to rectify their poor selection after all. E’Twaun Moore, who has carved out a career as a role player, was the Celtics’ final pick. A 5-foot-9 guard by the name of Isaiah Thomas was taken five picks later, though.
5. Jared Sullinger – 21st pick of 2012 draft, Fab Melo – 22nd pick
The 2012 draft wasn’t much better for the C’s, as they attempted to address a need with consecutive picks in the first round but ended up falling short. While Sullinger and Melo were athletic big men who were standouts in college, both failed to reach their NBA potential. Sullinger played four seasons in Boston, and while he averaged 13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds during his sophomore season, he did not live up to expectations and struggled with his conditioning. Melo only played six games in his career. Draymond Green, the 35th pick, would have been a perfect solution to the team’s problems, and his performance in Golden State has shown that he’s a winner.
4. Michael Smith – 13th pick of 1989 draft
Smith finished his three seasons at BYU as the school’s second-leading scorer all-time behind only Danny Ainge. His game never really translated to the NBA, though, as after two seasons with the Celtics he played abroad for five years. He returned for the 1994-95 season to play 29 games with the Clippers, but finished his career with per-game averages of five points and 1.5 rebounds. The Warriors selected five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway with the following pick. Six-time All-Star forward Shawn Kemp and future Celtic Dana Barros were still on the board as well.
3. Jerome Moiso – 11th pick of 2000 draft
With the Celtics struggling during the late ‘90s, the Moiso pick did little to improve their stock. Relatively unknown when he was selected out of UCLA, the 6-foot-10 power forward stayed that way. He only played 24 games in his Celtics career, and while he remained in the league until 2005, he retired with career averages of 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson, DeShawn Stevenson and Michael Redd all would have been better picks in what was a poor draft.
2. Antoine Walker – 6th pick of 1996 draft
Walker, who was a key piece during the Celtics’ playoff runs in the early 2000s, is not deserving of the No. 1 spot due to his strong career in Boston, but this was most definitely a draft day blunder. The Paul Pierce/Walker pairing was a good one, but not nearly as good as a Pierce/Kobe Bryant pairing would have been. Kobe was taken seven picks after Walker and two-time MVP Steve Nash went 15th overall. Another great Celtics what-if… Kobe shattering records and putting up banners in the Garden.
1. Kendrick Brown – 11th pick of 2001 draft
Not to be confused with Kwame Brown, who has gone down as one of the worst No. 1 picks of all-time, the Celtics didn’t themselves any favors by drafting Kendrick Brown in 2001. The 6-foot-8 small forward only played 101 games in a Celtics uniform, during which he shot 38 percent from the field and 21.2 percent from 3-point range. He bounced around between Cleveland and Philadelphia before retiring in 2005 with career averages of 3.6 points per game and 2.4 rebounds. To make matters worse, the Celtics selected Joe Johnson with the 10th pick that year, but traded him after just 48 games in Boston. Celtics fans are left to wonder what Zach Randolph, Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson or Gilbert Arenas – who all went later in the draft – could have done to take the franchise to the next level.
Full article @ Top 10 all-time Celtics draft blunders
Source: GreenStreet Blog