Celtics Avoid Disaster by Not Mortgaging Future

(Picture via @WEEI)

By: Sean Sendall

The trade impetus was backed by ardent supporters of immediate satisfaction.  A virtual microcosm of the antics that advance the perspective of fans outside of Boston, which turned the once lovable-losers of this city into the antagonist in the never-ending story of fandom.  Forget how the great Red Auerbach once built the Celtics of the 60’s, 70′, 80’s, and (what should have been if it weren’t for the tragic death of Len Bias) the 90’s all through the NBA draft.  The Celtics most recent Championship came on the shoulders of legends that paved there way elsewhere, before reaching the NBA summit wearing Green.  Well, two-thirds of it at least.

It’s said that nothing in life is certain.  Well I was certain of two things leading into the draft Thursday night:  1) President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge, was calling the entire league to look for an appropriate trade partner, or two, to improve his club.  2) There was no chance he would get fifty cents back on his dollar.

Ainge was, reportedly, one of the most active around the league as he shopped picks and, potentially, players on his roster.  Despite the fervid backlash following the draft, he deserves acknowledgement for not “mortgaging the farm.” Boston retains a number of future first-round selections:

  • 2017 Right to swap picks with Brooklyn
  • 2018 Unprotected Brooklyn pick
  • 2019 Clippers, lottery protected through 2020
  • 2019 Grizzlies, top eight protected in 2019, top six protected in 2020, unprotected in 2021 (if not conveyed in any prior year)

Despite the cynical mocking of local broadcasters, who know as much about basketball as they do cricket, draft selections are assets.

There is, of course, the inexact science behind the draft.  Annually, mistakes are made that are not easily forgotten when compared to those who were selected later in the draft.  However, you cannot strike gold if you’re not looking or, in this case, if you don’t have the opportunity to look.

The incoming collegiate freshman class has a number of potential future stars.  With the right to swap your pick with the Nets in 2017, the Celtics have a chance at landing Harry Giles (Duke), Josh Jackson (Kansas), Markelle Fultz (Washington), Jayson Tatem (Duke), Lonzo Ball (UCLA) or a number of other options.  If Boston can capitalize on three consecutive drafts in the top-five -this is quite likely, let’s be real, the Nets were just passed by every other team, including the Sixers, with roster talent for next year- then they have the potential to build a team like Seattle/Oklahoma City did with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden.

Young talent will always need some time to mold into championship form, but along the way the Celtics won’t be in the bottom of the barrel.  Not only can they build through the draft, but they’ll be a talented team, in their own right, during that stretch.

Whether you think Jaylen Brown was the right choice or not -personally, I was ecstatic to see him play in college, but disappointed with his season there- the Celtics know he can grow and learn with this team.  He won’t be relied upon immediately.  The ability to steward his talent combined with the potential top-five pick next year should excite fans about the future of their franchise.

The Celtics may have built their last championship through trades, but the storied history of this franchise has come through the draft.  Ainge has preserved the future and is prepared to build this team the right way.

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