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

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…