For the first time in the modern era of the NBA Draft, the Celtics will pick No. 1 overall.
The 76ers slid into the top three of the draft lottery Tuesday night as NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum read the picks to a nationally televised audience, and Celtics fans immediately had flashbacks to 1997 and 2007 when they were not rewarded. But the C’s made it to the final three, and then Tatum read that No. 3 would be the 76ers, No. 2 would be the Lakers, and No. 1 would be the Celtics.
“It’s pretty good. It’s a pretty good time to be a Celtics fan,” an elated Wyc Grousbeck, the Governor and Managing Partner of the Celtics, told ESPN. “I wish the draft was right now so we could get it going.”
The draft will take place on Thursday, June 22 in Brooklyn. The 2017 draft is considered by many to be one of the best drafts in years. Washington guard Markelle Fultz is the consensus “best player” in the draft, with UCLA guard Lonzo Ball and Kansas swingman Josh Jackson in the mix.
The issue with this draft for the Celtics is that it is point guard loaded. Isaiah Thomas has more than earned a max contract in this playoff run and all signs are pointing toward him sticking around for a while. Thomas is just 28-years-old, so he’s the PG of Celtics present and future.
That said, Danny Ainge doesn’t care much for position restrictions. He’s a “small ball” lover dating back to his days as head coach of the Phoenix Suns, when he would sometimes trot out a lineup with four guards. The Celtics could absolutely take one of the elite point guards in this draft and place him in a lineup with Thomas.
The NBA has never been more of a guard-heavy league than it is today, so we could see the Celtics go small next month.
Trade the pick?
The trade rumors involving the Celtics and this pick are going to be hotter than the temps in Boston this week as now the rest of the league knows what pick it’s dealing with. Ainge flirted with bringing in the Pacers’ Paul George and/or the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler at the trade deadline in February, but someone got cold feet. Of note, Larry Bird is no longer running the operation in Indy – which means the Pacers may be more open to trading George (who Bird was reportedly attached to). George is reportedly hell-bent on going to the Lakers in free agency next summer, however, so it would be a gamble for Ainge to deal away this pick for someone who could simply be a rental.
Butler seems like a more logical choice for the Celtics, but Chicago doesn’t seem to know which direction it wants to go in. Plus, the Celtics might not think that Butler is capable of lifting them to the next level (on par with Cleveland, Golden State).