The Five Best Moments in Celtics Draft History
Drafting Basketball Jesus certainly has to be among the greatest moves in NBA history, even if the Celtics did have to do it a year before he left Indiana State.
However, when you're talking about maybe the greatest franchise in pro basketball, even the drafting of Larry Bird doesn't rank as the organization's best move.
We all know draft day isn't just about the draft itself and the picks, it's also a prime time in the off season to execute trades and make your team better.
Bird may go down as the best Celtic draft pick of all time, but as you'll see from this list, Boston's draft history is a lot more than just the Hick from French Lick.
No. 5: Paul Pierce/John Havlicek
For many other franchises, either of these two players would represent their top overall draft pick.
For the Celtics, they barely make the cut.
It was too hard to leave one of the team's top three all-time leading scorers off this list.
In Havlicek's case, he was drafted right as the franchise was in the middle of its unprecedented run of eight straight NBA titles. He later went on to be the key man on two other titles in '68 and '69. Later on, he became the veteran cornerstone to two other championship teams in the 70s.
Paul Pierce wasn't supposed to be drafted by the Celtics. After losing out on Tim Duncan the year before, Boston couldn't afford to make a mistake in 1998.
Pierce wasn't supposed to drop as low as the 10th overall pick. Since then, he's used that as his primary motivation to become one of the best small forwards of his generation.
No. 4: Dave Cowens
He's not the Celtics all-time leading scorer, rebounder, or shotblocker. He probably doesn't even make the cut on the all-time team.
Regardless, the Celtic franchise has always been based on big men which is why the drafting of Florida State's Cowens ranks number four on the list.
After the departure of Bill Russell, there was a void in the middle of the Boston defense. Cowens filled it after being drafted fourth overall in 1970, leading the C's to another pair of titles in 1974 and 1976.
No. 3: Ray Allen/Kevin Garnett
This may be cheating a little bit because the Kevin Garnett trade wasn't actually made on draft day. However, the seeds were definitely sown back on June 28, 2007.
After yet another lottery disappointment, Boston ended up with the fifth overall pick.
In a desperate move to save their franchise from another rebuilding effort, Boston traded away Jeff Green, Wally Sczerbiak and Delonte West for Ray Allen and Glen Davis.
A short while later Danny Ainge would trade away nearly half his roster and a pair of draft picks for Kevin Garnett. You know the story from there, a new Big Three, a 17th banner, and another period of greatness for the Celtics franchise.
No. 2: Larry Bird
As I said in the introduction to this slide show, he's probably the greatest draft pick in the history of the Celtics. He's the team's all-time leading scorer and maybe its most recognizable face.
Following a Rookie of the Year performance, Bird led a reformed powerhouse to the NBA title in 1981.
Along with Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, Bird and the Celtics would combine for two more titles in '84 and '86.
If this list were solely about draft picks, there's no doubt Bird would be tops. However, when it comes to the Boston Celtics, it's all about history.
No. 1: 1956 NBA Draft
These are just two of the legends that the Celtics acquired in 1956. This was the draft that turned around the fortunes of the franchise. 1956 is the cornerstone on which the Celtic Dynasty and legacy was built.
For starters, Red Auerbach selected local talent Tom Heinsohn out of Holy Cross. Then picked the supremely talented K.C Jones from the University of San Francisco.
The coup de gras, however, was Auerbach's stunning trade of Ed McCauley and Cliff Hagan to the then-rival St. Louis Hawks in return for the draft rights to Bill Russell.
Together, the trio would lead Boston to 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons, a stretch of dominance that has never been, nor likely to be matched. Three Hall of Famer's and the beginning of an NBA dynasty make 1956 a draft unlike any other.