The Celtics Rebuilding Process: What if Everything Had Gone Right?
After the 2007 draft lottery, Celtics fans couldn't have felt worse. You know the story. The Celtics received the third- and fifth-overall picks after fooling themselves into thinking they'd have the first given their two chances.
Sporting News released an article called "The Dynasty That Wasn't" after that lottery. On the cover was Tim Duncan in a Celtics jersey.
It uncovered the history of the 1997 draft and beyond. The Celtics ended the year with 15 wins. The Spurs had 20.
Tim Duncan was undoubtedly going to be the number one pick after coming off one of the greatest college careers ever. The Spurs got the pick, of course.
The article then gets pretty crazy, talking about Steve Nash and Tracy McGrady on the Celtics, which also assumes that they still have Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, Joe Johnson, and somehow Chauncey Billups despite using that pick on the one they would have used for Duncan.
But this is a more realistic team. Well, not exactly realistic. But the Celtics were closer than you think to having even better talent than they do now.
This is the All-Celtics team that could have been in the past five years.
Point Guard: Deron Williams
The Trailblazers held the third overall pick of the 2005 draft.
On draft night, they traded the pick for the sixth and 26th overall picks, held by the Jazz. They picked Williams.
Before we heard talks of the Jazz trade, Paul Pierce reportedly wanted out of Boston. The Celtics were rumored to possibly trade Pierce for the third overall pick.
Sure, they'd lose a great player for unproven talent, but you'll see in this slideshow that they almost had another great swingman later that night.
Shooting Guard: Brandon Roy
Try to follow this.
With the sixth pick of the 2006 draft, the Timberwolves selected Roy. The Celtics selected Randy Foye seventh overall.
For whatever reason, the Celtics traded Foye, Raef LaFrenz, and Dan Dickau to the Trailblazers for Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff.
Shortly after that, the Timberwolves traded Roy for Foye.
If you could follow that, you'd know that it would be possible for the Celtics to have traded Foye for Roy if they didn't trade Foye to Portland.
Small Forward: Danny Granger
The Pacers held the 17th pick of the 2005 draft while the Celtics held the 18th.
Granger was selected with the 17th pick while the Celtics were stuck with Gerald Green.
Green has been with four teams in four years and has never been a regular starter.
Celtics GM Danny Ainge has said that he would have picked Granger if he had been available with that pick.
Power Forward: Al Jefferson
Jefferson is the one player on the list who's ever played a single game with the Celtics. He was the best player Ainge ever drafted.
He's not Kevin Garnett, but Jefferson has established himself as an extremely intelligent post player and a great rebounder.
Unfortunately, he hasn't been to the playoffs since his rookie year and he's now in a new rebuilding process with the Timberwolves.
Center: Greg Oden
Once in a while, we see an NBA prospect who simply screams "superstar." We saw it in Duncan, LeBron James, Patrick Ewing, etc.
Oden was the most recent prospect who was guaranteed a superstar career after leading Ohio State to the championship and becoming an All-American in his freshman year.
He's had a bit of a slow transition into the pro game, but he's one of the NBA's best raw talents.
Looking back, it seems the Celtics were better off not winning the first overall pick of the 2007 draft. But every young team could use a center of Oden's size and talent.