Grading Boston Celtics' Draft Day Decisions

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Grading Boston Celtics' Draft Day Decisions
Harry How/Getty Images
Beavis voice: Hehe, hehe... I'm gonna score!

Is the nightmare over? By the end of the NBA draft on June 27, 2013, most Celtics fans likely felt like they were suffering from a bad trip.

Not only did they have to face the cruel reality of losing Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, they also had to sit through another rough Danny Ainge draft.

Yeah, it was an all-around regrettable night.

 

The Trade

Let's start with the blockbuster trade, even though it did not involve the draft. The Celtics and Brooklyn Nets all but finalized a deal that will send Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans, Keith Bogans and three future first-round picks.

Essentially, Ainge packed the bags for Boston's captain and leading scorer, along with its defensive anchor. He suddenly made the Celtics one of the youngest teams in the league and turned Avery Bradley into the player with the second-longest tenure in green (three seasons).

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Looks like Pierce and KG are sticking together... just not in green.

In return, the organization netted two no-names (Evans, Bogans), one has-been Kardashian (Humphries) and one fading semi-star (Wallace). The semi-star, unfortunately, will cost over $30 million over the next three years. The ex-Kardashian, who squabbled with Rajon Rondo last year, will earn $12 million (about $11 mil over his worth).

If this deal involved Andray Blatche or C.J. Watson (who recently opted out of his Nets' contract), it would have been a success. But even with the first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, the Celtics lost this one.

Think about it: what kind of picks will the Nets land the Celtics those years? Their projected starting lineup now includes Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. That doesn't exactly scream “lottery-bound.”

So, the franchise formerly known as New Jersey becomes a powerhouse in the same division their trade-partner Celtics wave the white flag and start the “rebuild.” Note to Ainge: you don't rebuild with Jenga blocks.

Grade: C-

 

First-Round Pick: Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Gonzaga

Let's get to the actual draft, the reason you came here. Boston started the night with pick No. 16, however, they traded up to No. 13 by sending two second-round picks to the Dallas Mavericks.

Exciting, huh? Shane Larkin was on the board. Dennis Schroeder. Lucas Nogueira. Ainge's pick: Kelly Olynyk. Ugh.

 

The 6'11”, 234-pound Gonzaga product, who looks like a combination of Mitch from Dazed and Confused and Jay from Jay and Silent Bob, adds to the list of Ainge's big-man failures.

For one, he cannot rebound or defend, two areas the Celtics desperately need to improve. They finished second-to-last in boards in 2012-13, and 23rd in blocks.

Olynyk, who redshirted last year to improve his game, never seemed to develop his mechanics defensively. Even worse, he doesn't have NBA-ready size or strength to bail him out.

Ainge will likely use him as a “stretch 4” rather than a center, which is befuddling. Didn't the Celtics just trade away KG, their starting center? Don't they already have a power forward in Jared Sullinger, and a backup in Brandon Bass?

Not to be harsh, but...oh screw it, I'll be harsh. This selection reminds me of when the Celtics traded for Raef Lafrentz. They're both 6'11” and a soft 235, they both like to play outside the three-point arc, they both struggle near the rim and both turn the ball over.

This could be the last straw for Ainge, who was also the one responsible for grabbing Rasheed Wallace, Jermaine and Shaquille O'Neal past their primes. Oh, and then there's busts like Mark Blount, Michael Olowokandi, Theo Ratliff, Scot Pollard, Troy Murphy, Semih Erden, Chris Johnson, Mikki Moore, Ryan Hollins, Sean Williams, Jason Collins and Patrick O'Bryant. Awesome list of bigs.

Just to get you away from the ledge, let's at least examine the appeal with Olynyk. Obviously, he's a scorer. He has a smooth stroke with quality range and also features a few moves in the post and on the drive.

He scores with efficiency and consistency, having finished his junior year with 17.8 points per game on 62.9 percent shooting. He averaged an unfathomable 1.131 points per play, which ranked among the top five percent of all D-1 players. Olynyk's 36.57 Player Efficiency Rating led the nation this past season.

Still though, he doesn't bang down low or play defense nearly well enough to even dream of replacing KG (ever). Olynyk allowed 0.818 points per play last season, terrible numbers for a big guy with hair like a transient gnome. He will be dominated in the paint by larger, stronger centers, and scorched by quicker and more athletic power forwards.

The Twittersphere seems to either love or hate this move, and it should already be quite clear which side yours truly can be found.

Grade: C

 

Second Round Pick: Colton Iverson, C/PF, Colorado State

As the first round of the draft concluded, commissioner hijinks and all, a slew of talent remained available.

Jamaal Franklin, Jeff Withey, Myck Kabongo, Peyton Siva, Colton Iverson, Isaiah Canaan, Ricky Ledo, Erick Green, Allen Crabbe.

Diehard Celtics fans salivated at the list, anxiously hoping that Ainge would pull another trade in order to obtain a second-round pick (the Courtney Lee deal last summer involved the Celtics would-be selection).

Not surprisingly, it happened. After the Indiana Pacers selected Colorado State big man Colton Iverson at pick No. 53, they subsequently traded him to the Celtics for cash considerations. Talk about a superb pickup.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Iverson is a bruiser, and might just be one of the steals of this draft.

Iverson is everything Olynyk is not. He's a monstrous rebounder, having averaged nearly 10 boards in 2012-13. He anchored a CSU defense that many analysts considered among the best in the nation. The 7'0”, 255-pounder bangs down low and always utilizes his strength on the defensive post.

Of course, Iverson has a much more limited offense than the versatile Olynyk. He needs to improve his range and work on his handle. He could become a better passer and free-throw shooter—he averaged two turnovers in 29.5 minutes per game and shot 59 percent from the line—and his aggressiveness often gets him into foul trouble.

Iverson needs some work, but he's much more promising than current big-man project Fab Melo (he actually tries!). Expect his blue-collar play to earn him some valuable playing time right off the bat next season. At pick No. 53, and for very little cost, this selection was a huge plus.

Grade: B

 

Now we return you to your regularly-scheduled wailing and sobbing as you watch old highlights of the 2008 NBA Championship series. It'll get better, folks.

 

 

All stats compiled using ESPN and Synergy Sports.

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