We’ve all had the summer to digest the Celtics’ draft night blockbuster deal with the Nets – you know, the one that sent KG and Paul Pierce packing (along with Jason Terry) and brought in a package of players nobody really wants (Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and Kris Joseph) and a slew of draft picks. So now that we’ve had a few months to think about the deal in the context of the future, where exactly did it leave Boston?
Let’s get one thing clear quickly: this deal was made with long-term success in mind, and even though he seems inclined to keep Rondo around, don’t believe Danny Ainge for a second when he says the Celtics aren’t tanking this year. They most certainly are. The Celtics forfeited 2 all star caliber hall of fame players for package of has-beens, disappointments and bench players, and did it for the draft picks. Need proof the team isn’t built to win in 2013-2014? Just look at the betting odds. Betfair has the Celtics at 100/1 odds for the NBA title this season – tied for 10th lowest odds in the league.
However, while the trade didn’t set up a strong 2013-2014 campaign, it did set the team up to draft extraordinarily well in the coming seasons. Altogether now, the Celtics will have 6 first round draft picks in the next 3 drafts (with more to come in the future), and given that Boston’s own first rounder in 2014 will almost certainly be a lottery pick, that means a few big time selections are on the way. Why does this matter, when the draft is so unpredictable? Because the players coming out of college in the next few years look like absolute studs.
We’ll start with Andrew Wiggins, the “best since LBJ” prodigy that everyone from ESPN to Rivals has ranked as the #1 player in the class of 2013. Wiggins is a franchise-altering superstar who will almost certainly spend only 1 year in Kansas before going pro, and you can bet he’ll be on the Celtics’ radar. Then there’s Duke forward Jabari Parker, Kentucky freshmen Julius Randle and Andrew Harrison, Arizona forward Aaron Gordon, Oklahoma State sophomore point guard Marcus Smart, etc. – each one of these players would likely have been a #1 pick in 2013. That’s a hell of a potential draft class next season.
So how can we project the future for Boston? Truth be told, it will probably be bleak for a few years. But the highlights are pretty bright. To begin with, the team kept Rondo (who, despite heaps of criticism,was the catalyst brought Boston a championship, and is a top 5 point guard in the league). Throw in an absurd package of draft picks for a few monster drafts, and this team could rebuild in a hurry. We don’t know who those draft picks will be – but given the talent on the rise, they’ll be enough to make a big difference.