BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics own the 25th and 55th pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, but President of Basketball Ops Danny Ainge said Wednesday he does not expect to get an impact player out of the two picks. Ainge has a track record for finding talent when it does not seem like there is any there, so it should be an interesting night for the Celtics.
Here is Ainge’s draft picks since he took over the Celtics in 2003.
With the 19th overall pick, Ainge drafted freshman guard Avery Bradley out of Texas. Some feel if Bradley stayed in school for another year, he could have been a top prospect in a weaker 2011 draft. He played just 31 games in 2010, but is looked at as a defensive guard with some potential.
Ainge selected forward Luke Harangody out of Notre Dame with the 52nd overall pick. An undersized big-man, Ainge went with the four-year college player who had a lot of success playing in the Big East. Harangody showed some flashes when given the opportunity, but was shipped to Cleveland with Semih Erden at the trade deadline to clear roster spots for future veteran additions.
The Celtics did not own a first round pick, sending it to Minnesota in the Kevin Garnett trade (28th overall, used to select guard Wayne Ellington). Ainge drafted guard Lester Hudson with the 58th pick, who did not play much during his time in Boston. He appeared in just 16 games for the Celtics, averaging 1.4 points in 4.4 minutes, before being waived in January 2011. He was claimed by the Memphis Grizzlies, but later waived by them as well. He was briefly with Wizards last season, but is now playing in China.
With the Celtics winning their 18th Championship, they had the 30th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Ainge went with J.R. Giddens out of New Mexico, a 6-5 guard/forward. Giddens was seen as a project pick, with hopes he could develop into a defensive player off the bench. He played in just 27 games over two seasons with Boston, and was traded to the Knicks along with Eddie House and Bill Walker for Nate Robinson.
In the second round in 2008, the Celtics acquired Walker from the Wizards for cash considerations, and drafted Turkish center Semih Erden with the final pick in the draft.
This has been Ainge’s most important draft night to date. He traded the 5th overall pick (used to select Jeff Green) and guards Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak to the Seattle SuperSonics for Ray Allen and the 35th pick, used to select Glen Davis. The trade went a long way for the Celtics who, with Allen aboard, were able to convince Kevin Garnett to join the team. The rest is history.
Ainge also selected USC guard Gabe Pruitt with the 32nd overall pick. Pruitt found himself behind Rajon Rondo, Eddie House and Sam Cassell his rookie season and spent most of his time in the D-League. He was waived by Boston in 2009.
This was another busy draft night for Ainge and the Celtics. Danny send the draft rights to 7th overall selection Randy Foye, Raef LaFrentz and Dan Dickau to the Portland Trail Blazers for point guard Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a future second round pick. Telfair did not play well in his only season in Boston, averaging just 6.1 points and 2.8 assists in 78 games (30 starts). Telfair was shipped off to Minnesota as part of the Kevin Garnett trade.
Telfair was supposed to be the big splash the Celtics made that draft night, but it was two trades that ended up turning to gold for Ainge. He acquired the draft rights to Rajon Rondo, the contract of Brian Grant and Cash from the Phoenix Suns for a future first rounder, and a future second rounder for the draft rights to Leon Powe from the Denver Nuggets. Both players ended up playing pivotal roles in the Celtics 2008 Championship, and it now looks like Rondo is the future of the franchise. Unless Ainge gets an itchy trigger finger at some point…
Ainge and the Celtics had the 18th overall pick, using it to draft high schooler Gerald Green. Is has been reported Ainge really wanted forward Danny Granger, who was taken one pick ahead by the Indiana Pacers. In Green, the Celtics took a 6-7 swingman was an athletic scorer who never found his rhythm in the NBA. He would have benefitted from a couple of years in school, but opted for the paycheck instead. Sure, he had a few highlight dunks and won the dunk contest in 2007, but overall was a major disappointment.
Ainge did have one of the better steals in the draft, taking Providence forward Ryan Gomes with the 50th pick. Gomes was a solid contributor for the Celtics his rookie year, coming off the bench and eventually taking a starting role when injuries depleted the team. Gomes averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 60 starts (73 total games) in 06-07 before being including in the Kevin Garnett trade the following offseason. After three seasons in Minnesota, Gomes played with the LA Clippers last season.
The Celtics also took point guard Orien Greene with the 53rd overall pick, whose claim to fame was getting pulled over for speeding down Main Street in Waltham at 4 am in the morning. After three seasons out of the NBA, he signed a 10-day contract with the New Jersey Nets last season.
This was a big one for Ainge. He had three first round picks after various trades the season before. With the Celtics pick, he selected Al Jefferson 15th overall as the Big-Man of the future. Jefferson was taken straight out of high school, but with a lot of offensive talent. He battled injuries his first two years in the NBA, but showed potential whenever he was on the court. He had a long way to go when it came to defense but was a young player Celtics fans could look forward to in the future.
Photos: Danny Ainge’s Trades
Ainge drafted guards Delonte West 24th (pick acquired from the Antoine Walker trade to Dallas) and Tony Allen 25th (pick acquired in three-team trade with Rasheed Wallace landing in Detroit), both making an impact in their time with the Celtics. West started off his career injured, but was a big contributor both off the bench and as a starter when healthy. Tony Allen filled in for an injured Paul Pierce in 2007, until injuring himself. He turned into a great defender off the bench and was a major key to the Celtics 2008 championship, spelling Pierce along with James Posey in guarding the likes of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant.
Jefferson was the main part to the Celtics getting Kevin Garnett in 2007, with Delonte going to Seattle for Ray Allen. Tony Allen left for Memphis after his contract expired in 2009.
Ainge also drafted forward Justin Reed 41st overall, who was later including in the KG trade.
In Ainge’s first draft for the Celtics, he tried to make a big splash by trading for point guard Marcus Banks. Ainge drafted BC guard Troy Bell 16th and Duke guard Dahntay Jones 20th, shipping them to Memphis for Banks (taken 13th) and high school center Kendrick Perkins who was taken with the 27th pick. Banks ended up being bust, starting just five games in three seasons for the Celtics, and was included in the KG trade. Banks is still in the NBA, playing for the Toronto Raptors the past three seasons.
Perkins on the other hand was taken as a developmental project. He turned into the Celtics starting center by 2006-07, playing alongside Jefferson and then Garnett. He thrived in the defensive system as soon as Garnett arrived, benefitting from all the attention the future Hall of Famer drew. Perk always gave it his best effort on the court, and his scowl let opponents know he would not back down.
Bradon Hunter was also drafted by the Celtics, 56th overall in the second round. He had a couple big games for the Celtics, but became an NBA journeyman and now plays in Latvia.
Danny Ainge has had hits and misses over the course of his career in the draft, but you always have to pay attention in case he throws a blockbuster trade in there. He tends to make the most of mid-second round picks, as example with Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe and Glen Davis. It may be a little tougher to do anything this year with a weak draft class and the 55th overall pick, but as his record shows Ainge is also never afraid to make a draft night trade. The Celtics have just six players under contract for next season, so a trade looks unlikely, but never doubt Ainge’s creativity.