Celtics play it perfect, by tanking discreetly

Julius Randle Kentucky Celtics
Kentucky freshman Julius Randle is just one of several franchise players that will likely be available in the 2014 NBA Draft. Credit: Getty Images

There is no tanking template in the NBA, but here’s what we do know after 28 years of the pro basketball draft lottery – it’s good to be lucky, it’s good to pick your spots and it’s good to have karma on your side.

The Celtics haven’t been lucky the last couple of times they went tanking, losing out on Tim Duncan in 1997 and losing out on Kevin Durant in 2007. Though Greg Oden was an epic bust, the Celtics were still smart to have lost a ton in the 2006-07 season. Heading into that draft, Oden and Durant were both considered “can’t-miss” superstars. It was a top-heavy draft, yes, but the ultimate prizes were thought to be franchise-altering players and were certainly worth a lottery gamble. Those stuck-in-the-middle Celtics teams of the mid-2000s could have easily gone in the tank whenever Danny Ainge chose to. But it wouldn’t have been worth it in the two years prior to the ’07 draft. In 2006, Andrea Bargnani was the top prize. The year prior, Andrew Bogut went No. 1 overall. Those players are fine, but neither were ever considered “can’t miss.”

If you missed the memo, there are several “can’t miss” guys that will be available in the 2014 NBA Draft, a draft considered to be the deepest since the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Carmelo Anthony class of 2003 and possibly the best draft since the Michael Jordan-Charles Barkley-Hakeem Olajuwon-John Stockton class of 1984. In other words, the 2014 draft has the potential to be the best EVER.

Where we stand now, the jury is still out as to whether or not the 2013-14 Celtics will tank. If you’re into the “sucking-on-purpose” theory, there was major cause for alarm when the C’s went into Miami and beat the defending champion Heat on that Saturday night 10 days ago. In the Celtics’ “best” non-Paul Pierce-era win since Rick Pitino’s Celtics beat the Michael Jordan-led Bulls on opening night of the 1997-98 season, it showed that new C’s head coach Brad Stevens isn’t the roll-over type. This is good and bad news.


The good news is that bad lottery teams with good karma get, [cough, cough] “rewarded” by the powers that be in the NBA. You don’t have to have the worst record in the league to get the No. 1 overall pick and in this particular draft, you just simply want to have a top five pick. Consider that the Cavaliers, a year after losing LeBron in free agency, “won” the top pick in the 2011 NBA Draft (they had the second worst record that previous season). The New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans, just weeks after Tom Benson bought the franchise and more or less promised the NBA to keep it in New Orleans, “won” the top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The basketball gods (David Stern and Adam Silver) have recently smiled upon those who A. Have been screwed over by the most famous athlete in the world, or B. Have recently shown to have the best interests of the league.

By competing, night-in and night-out, and by upsetting the defending World Champs, Stevens has already shown to have the best interests of the league in mind. The 4-7 Celtics certainly look as though they have a good 13-game losing streak in them this season, but, maybe more importantly, they have also already shown the ability to pull off losing in a discreet manner.

The odds of the Celtics winning the NBA title within the next five years without having gone through one tankalicious season is somewhere around 3.4 percent. The odds of them winning the NBA title within the next five years having tanked this particular season (in a classy way, of course), increase exponentially.

So far, so good.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."