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Celtics GM Danny Ainge Doesn't See a Franchise-Changing Star in 2014 NBA Draft

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Celtics GM Danny Ainge Doesn't See a Franchise-Changing Star in 2014 NBA Draft
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart have everyone on the planet drooling over the franchise-altering potential of the 2014 NBA draft class.

Well, everyone except Boston Celtics, general manager Danny Ainge.

According to Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated, Ainge has dealt with constant calls for the Celtics to tank by developing a unique attitude toward the talent-laden class that will become available next June, "If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out there to change your franchise forever, or Tim Duncan was going to change your franchise for 15 years? That might be a different story. I don't see that player out there."

Well, Danny, you're on your own.

Everyone is over the moon about the immense potential of Wiggins, who ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford described by using terms like "super skilled," "uber athletic," "explosive leaper" and "elite finisher." Plenty of teams—like the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns, for example—are unabashedly torpedoing their seasons for a shot at Wiggins.

But the amazing thing is that in any other year, the next handful of guys on most experts' mock draft lists would also be viewed as surefire No. 1 picks.

Randle is a beast at the power forward spot, sure to dominate the SEC as a Kentucky freshman. Then there's Exum, the Australian point guard who could instantly transform an offense with his athleticism and ability to get to the hole.

Gordon, Smart and Parker are all studs, and the list of potentially franchise-altering talent goes even deeper than that. Put simply, the 2014 draft is both the deepest and most front-loaded in a long, long time.

In some sense, Ainge is partially correct: There's no way to be absolutely sure that a guy like Wiggins is going to change the course of a team's future like Abdul-Jabbar or Duncan. There's always going to be uncertainty surrounding draft picks, no matter how great they seem.

And if any team has a right to be skeptical about building through the draft, it's the Celtics, who saw their chances at both Duncan and Kevin Durant thwarted by some unlucky ping pong balls.

But by consensus, Wiggins is as close to a "sure thing" as there's been in years.

Ainge seems to be holding the line on his anti-tanking agenda, and downplaying the value of the upcoming draft is a shrewd way to do that. He started the interview with Thomsen by describing how so many Boston fans have been telling him that the team should be actively trying to lose games this year.

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Clearly, that's a strategy with which Ainge is outwardly uncomfortable.

But deep down, he has to know that the Celtics aren't equipped to chase a title with their current roster. In fact, they're not even a legitimate playoff threat. So even if he doesn't believe that Wiggins—or any other member of the 2014 class—can be a transformative star, he has to face the fact that the best way for his team to get better is to position itself to get one of those prospects.

Sooner or later, Ainge will come to grips with the idea that he, too, should be Riggin' for Wiggins.

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