The last time the Celtics had what could be a considered a great draft was in 2004 when they selected Al Jefferson, Delonte West, Tony Allen and Justin Reed. They found a legitimate building block for the future in Jefferson, a scoring guard in West and a defensive stopper in Allen.
Since then the NBA draft has been less than kind to the Celtics. Part of that is due to draft position. Over the past six seasons here are some examples of the Celtics' draft picks in the first round: Randy Foye, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, J.R. Giddens and Gerald Green (before you lose it, Rondo was a pick from Phoenix that was traded on draft day. It doesn't count and, yes, in four paragraphs I will violate this rule).
Green found success in Oklahoma City as a starter but found his transition to the bench more difficult when he came back to Boston. Foye has found himself as a career backup not shooting effectively nor adding much on the defensive end. Green and Giddens were incredibly athletic prospects who ended up overseas when they could not find a consistent game.
Bradley spent part of the season injured and found limited time behind Rajon Rondo and Delonte West this season.
The first round hasn't been kind to the Celtics. This year probably won't be any different. With this being one of the weakest in recent memory in terms of depth, the best true talents will likely be gone by pick No. 7, leaving the Celtics to find a player who fits a certain role with the 25th overall pick. It is still undecided if they are going to go after a big man or find some bench scoring.
What do the Celtics need from a second rounder?
The second round has been far kinder to the Celtics. Sure, there have been some flops—Gabe Pruitt, Lester Hudson and Orien Greene come to mind—but that is expected of a second-rounder. However, the Celtics have found several gems in the second round.
"Big Baby" Davis was not picked by the Celtics but was immediately traded the Boston and filled in exceptionally well for Kevin Garnett in the 2009 playoffs. He was a contender for Sixth Man of the Year this past season before disappearing in the playoffs. Big men Semih Erden and Luke Harangody both played well off the bench, with Erden especially playing well in the absence of Kendrick Perkins and Jermaine O'Neal.
Ryan Gomes might be the best second-rounder of this time period even though he doesn't play for the Boston Celtics. Gomes came in as undersized but highly skilled. He grew into a solid starter for the Celtics and later the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has a career average of 10 points per game—something you would expect from a late-first-round draft pick, not a late-second rounder.
The problem with drafting late in the first round is that most of these players would be lottery picks if not for one big flaw. Two players that have been mocked to the Celtics as big men are JaJuan Johnson and Jeremy Tyler.
Both would fill a need but Tyler is extremely immature, leaving his first pro team over disputes about playing time. Johnson looks like a sickly Kevin Garnett. At this stage in his development though, he should have more size and physicality if he expects to play in the NBA.
In the second round though, things get crazy. There have been too many names to pick who has been projected there at No. 55, but rest assured it is a player who does one thing exceptionally well, is likely undersized but will make his mark with incredible hustle if they hope to make it.
A second-round pick with a chip on his shoulder is more valuable than a first-rounder with a gaping hole in his game. Look for the trend to continue this year.