23 22 days until the 2010 NBA Draft! Starting to slip on the one-team-per-day pace, but maybe the (quick) discussion on the Boston Celtics' draft outlook is what I need.
It's funny how a circuitous path can sometimes lead to the most interesting conclusions. SB Nation's photo database wasn't working properly when I first wrote this article, so I had to go hunting for an image of Ainge and it led me to a 2004 piece by Bill Simmons, following the Detroit Pistons' defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals...
At first I couldn't tell when the article was written, because the Sports Guy's write-up starts off mentioning Ainge and "facilitating the trade for Rasheed", something which also happened at the beginning of this 2009-10 season.
So anyways, he credits Ainge -- and not so much Joe Dumars -- for bringing Wallace to the Pistons and thus blazing the trail that would lead to the Pistons' championship. The caption for the lead photo with Ainge in it reads
Danny Ainge shows the press the hand he plans on wearing his Pistons championship ring.
Ironically, four years later that hand would have his own Celtics championship ring!
In 2004, the Celtics absorbed the contract of Chucky Atkins, waived Lindsey Hunter, who then went back to the Pistons, in the three-team swap that landed 'Sheed with the Pistons. Simmons explains what the Celtics got in return:
And he made these sacrifices for the chance to add the 25th pick in this year's draft. The 25th pick!
The opening rant on Ainge ends as follows:
Put it this way: If the Rasheed trade happened in my fantasy league, we would have gotten together and vetoed it. That's how one-sided it was. The Pistons cleared all their cap fodder AND picked up a starting forward. If that doesn't earn Danny Ainge at least a half-share of the playoff money, I don't know what does.
That got me thinking, karma came back around and handed Kevin Garnett on a silver platter, which was also one-sided. Oh, and who the heck was the 25th pick of the 2004 NBA Draft, anyways?
Tony Allen, who's playing pretty well off the bench these playoffs and should be an interesting matchup against Shannon Brown here in the 2010 NBA Finals, as far as the rotation players are concerned.
Here's a quick look at Ainge's Draft track record (thank you, Wikipedia):
- 2003: Acquired 13th pick Marcus Banks from Memphis, selected 16th pick Troy Bell and traded him to Memphis, selected 20th pick Dahntay Jones and traded him to Memphis, acquired 27th pick Kendrick Perkins from Memphis, selected 56th pick Brandon Hunter.
- 2004: Selected 15th pick Al Jefferson, selected 24th pick Delonte West, selected 25th pick Tony Allen, selected 41st pick Justin Reed.
- 2005: Selected 18th pick Gerald Green, selected 50th pick Ryan Gomes, acquired 53rd pick then selected Orien Greene. Green, Gomes, and Jefferson (2004) would later be dealt in the KG trade in 2007.
- 2006: Selected 7th pick Randy Foye (traded to Minnesota, from which Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff were acquired, who were also part of the KG trade), acquired 21st pick Rajon Rondo, acquired 49th pick Leon Powe.
- 2007: Selected 5th pick Jeff Green (traded to Oklahoma City fka Seattle as part of the trade for Ray Allen), selected 32nd pick Gabe Pruitt, acquired 35th pick Glen Davis,
- 2008: Selected 30th pick J.R. Giddens, acquired 47th pick Bill Walker, drafted 60th pick Semih Erden.
- 2009: Selected 58th pick Lester Hudson.
As we know, teams are held up by their superstars. Some teams build through the draft (OKC, the Sacramento Kings, among many others, I'm sure), while Ainge trades through the draft.
Now, I have not analyzed all 29 other general managers' strategies, but my gut tells me that Ainge is rather unique in his approach to the Draft. He doesn't necessarily need to be a Draft expert and make the best pick possible at whatever position he's selecting. He utilizes various other means to acquire the pieces he needs.
With that, let's take a look at who's committed and who's not for 2010-11 for the Boston Celtics...
Four of Ainge's top nine players were "seeded" directly through the Draft: Rondo, Davis, Perkins, and Tony Allen. Of those, only Allen was a straight selection. Rondo, Davis, and Perkins were acquired through Draft-day trades.
As someone who has been immersed in the world of DraftExpress, NBAdraft.net, and Chad Ford, among many, many others, I've just got to say, Ainge trumps all of that, and I'm mightily impressed. In the end, Ainge gets the guy he thinks will fit into his puzzle, despite not having that pick.
He doesn't draft for need. He figures out what or whom he needs, then exploits the Draft to get it.
As far as 2010 is concerned, the Celtics have the 52nd pick and I cannot wait to see whom Ainge selects, as well as deals for. Here's what the top mocks have to say about the 52nd pick...
- NBAdraft.net: Jon Scheyer (6'6", 180, pg/sg, Duke, senior). A pick like this would seem to be right up Ainge's alley.
- DraftExpress: Mikhail Torrance (6'5", 210, pg, Alabama, senior). Another pick that would be great to either add to training camp or deal, in true Ainge fashion. I wrote about Torrance's impressive Portsmouth outing and how he played like a Poor Man's Russell Westbrook.
- Chad Ford: does not project 2nd-round picks.
Along the lines of Scheyer and Torrance, I wouldn't be surprised if Ainge picks Jeremy Lin, the Asian-American point guard out of Harvard, which is only a hop, skip, and a jump from the TD Garden.
Lin is a capable point guard -- besides me and my well-documented support of Lin (just Google "GoldenStateOfMind.com Jeremy Lin" or even "Jeremy Lin" by itself), one Draft expert also thinks he's the 2nd-best point guard in the Draft -- and he's the type of pick that can yield a favorable trade, due at least to the marketing angle. I've corresponded with many fans from the Asian-American basketball community and they are already declaring that they will buy every available Jeremy Lin jersey under the sun.
In essence, it doesn't matter who Ainge picks at #52. Even if the Boston roster suggested a need at any one or two positions, we wouldn't expect him to draft towards that end.
However, despite the "magically delicious" Draft run of '04, '05, '06, and '07, over the past two years with almost nothing in the first round except the 30th pick in '08, Ainge's late-2nd-round picks have yielded very little. The last hit was Big Baby in 2007 at #35.
NEXT: Los Angeles Lakers
PHX - Shoring up behind Amare? (46th, 60th picks)
ATL - Calling all shooting guards not named Joe (24th, 53rd picks)
ORL - Improving while Dwight improves (29th, 59th picks)
DAL - Depends on Dirk and Dampier dollars (50th, 57th picks)
CHA - S-Jax stuck (no draft picks)
DEN - Just need Coach Karl back? (no draft picks)
CLE - If you leave (no draft picks)
Is Danny Ainge an under-rated general manager?
No, he's rated just about right (129 votes)
No, he's OVER-rated (98 votes)
Yes, he's done some amazing things with that roster (94 votes)
321 total votes