The NBA Draft Lottery is another staple moment of every basketball season, with representations of every team coming together in New York City to see which ping pong ball shows their spot in the upcoming June NBA Draft. The Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns, the Orlando Magic, and the Boston Celtics, were all given the highest chances to land the coveted number one pick. The Boston Celtics got there because of the deal that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. The Celtics acquired three first round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, while also having rights to swap first round picks in this coming draft in June. The Nets were going for it all, essentially trading away four first round picks, along with Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, and a few other lesser NBA names, all for a chance to go deep in the playoffs. They didn’t and ended up getting a gentelmens sweep from the juggernaut Miami Heat. Not even a year later the Nets trade an aging Garnett to Minnesota for Thad Young, Paul Peirce left for the Wizards the following off-season, and now the Nets were left with no ECF hopes and nowhere to start growing in the draft.
The Boston Celtics however, were building a damn good team mostly through the draft and acquiring guys that no team gave a chance to, in comes Isiah Thomas. While the Nets were busy cleaning house and creating chaos with it, the Celtics acquired Thomas from the Suns in the 2015 February trade deadline. The Suns were in that stage of having way too many point guards that all wanted the same thing, so Thomas was the odd man out and landed in Boston, and it ended up a perfect fit.
In the 21 games Isiah played with the Celtics, his scoring went up from 15.2 points to 19 points a game, his usage percentage went up as the Celtics found their go to guy during games. For a guy who 29 teams, plus the Kings and Suns never gave a chance to, he found a team that not only gave him a shot but gave him the keys and the drivers seat to control the offence and be the guy they would build around. It was one of the more impressive moves Danny Ainge has made, it was a building block turned into a special stone. In a league moving towards tall and athletic guards that can overpower guys, Isiah Thomas somehow stands taller than most of them in the way he plays. A nice throwback to the days of Allen Iverson, he finds ways to score both inside and out, by using screens off-ball and find holes in the defense he should not normally be able to. It was an absolute steal if I’ve ever seen one, and that was just the begging as the Celtics acquired two young and promising role players in Jae Crowder, and a first round pick in the 2015 draft that turned out to be young stud Terry Rozier. It was another classic Danny Ainge move as he got rid of troubling guard Rajon Rondo, and got solid promising talent in return. Now the Boston Celtics were becoming something other than that team that peirce and kg were on.
The Boston Celtics built their core out of steals via the draft and making GTA type robberies of deals that made fools of whoever dealt with them. Last Years NBA Draft showed how well Ainge does picking out talent in crops of who knows NBA prospects. With the third overall pick, again thanks to the Brookyln Nets, they selected Jaylen Brown. They got a real nice player that can learn from Isiah, while also hopefully developing into a future star himself.
Now the Celtics are in the Eastern Conference Finale, albiet against a three headed dragon that can shoot 3s in the Cavs. But they are in a stage where they can make a name for themselves, and with the first pick in this years draft, they have positives all around that can be said despite being bounced by the Cavs. In a way the Nets destroyed their future, while giving the Celtics a chance to build a future of their own.
The Boston Celtics face a tough task in trying to take down the Goliath that is the Cavs, but a positive they can take from this is that they already have a plan for the future. With picks in the first round in the next two drafts, they control their own destiny. They can keep the pick and do what they seem to do and make a stud out of him, or they can use that as a trade chip to try and acquire a star. They are walking a promising path, while also having the building blocks to create another, maybe more promising one. They can build around Thomas, their draft pick and possibly a high coveted free agent like Gordon Hayward. They may not beat the cavs for now, but if they continue to build around young and kept talent like Thomas, Brown and whoever they pick in this years draft, and a solid free agent signing, they may have a chance. The Celtics are going back to being a great team in the East, and all it took was for Danny Ainge to work his magic.