A Tale of Three Lotteries Part 3: Boston

“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

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The Art of the Deal

 

great againIt is well-known that Danny Ainge was the ghost writer for Donald Trump’s best selling book The Art of the Deal: in fact, that’s how he got his GM gig in the Celtics front office.  Danny’s deal making abilities are renowned as some of the best in the NBA, particularly in regard to his acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007.  Most recently, he moved Rajon Rondo for some guys, and a player who, at the time, was just a throw in player; now, Jae Crowder is one of their most outstanding players.  And who could forget the acquisition of All-Star point-guard Isaiah Thomas from the Phoenix Suns for next to nothing.  Did I mention the Nets trade?  The deal in which Ainge traded an aging Kevin Garnett – who would never play a decent season again – and Paul pierce – who would leave after 1 season – and the infamous Jason Terry for 3 first round picks?

His dealings have been both a blessing and a curse, as now teams are terrified to trade with Ainge because of the palpable risk of getting swindled. Regardless of  how other teams feel, Boston is in a pretty good place as of right now: they are a young team in the midst of a successful rebuilding process, but are simultaneously competitive in their conference. They have an All-Star point-guard on one of the best contracts in the league, and Jae Crowder, who I mentioned earlier, is continuing to get better and adds versatility on both sides of the court. Brad Stevens one of the best young Coaches in the league and is looked upon with great respect from many players around the league – and of course, there’s the Messiah himself, Marcus Smart, who continues to appear to be on the precipice of greatness, though that greatness is just barely out of reach. The Celtics are better off than most teams in the draft, but as you’ve undoubtedly heard too many times by now, they’re a superstar away.  

I disagree, I believe they’re a breakthrough away, if Jae Crowder , Marcus Smart or any of their other players can find consistent go-to scoring ability, this team will finish second in the east; but as long as it’s Isiah out there by himself like we saw in the Playoffs, this team can’t survive against deeper opponents.

Dear Celtics Fans,

 

Your team just had the #3 pick in the draft and were a win away from finishing third in the Eastern Conference: cool down about the Jaylen Brown pick.  Who cares if you didn’t trade for a “star”?  The deals weren’t right, so Ainge didn’t pull the trigger.  You have two picks that may well be number 1 overall picks coming from Brooklyn in 2017 and 2018, and any pick coming in the top 5 of 2017 will have immense value whether via trade or in the form of a fresh rookie star.  That pick will burn in the Celtics pocket all of next season, but count on Danny to trade it this season, cause with the Nets recent moves they are shaping out to be the 98-99 Clippers.  

Next year’s draft is brimming with potential super-stars: however, this year was a crap shoot.  The Celtics picked Jaylen Brown in what I like to call a JJ Reddick draft.  Meaning that this draft, outside of the top two picks, is full of players who are all flawed, but still have the chance for a stellar career if they end up in the right situation and choose to make the necessary adjustments to their games.  There was no clear guy at #3, so that’s why everyone from Jamal Murray, to the camera man who got crossed up by Ben Simmons, were discussed as a possible fit with the Celtics. 

nat tweetDid it really make sense for Boston to take Kris Dunn at 3?  The Celtics already have too many guards on their roster, and adding another one won’t help.  Yes, reports indicated interest in Dunn from other teams, but what’s to stop them from waiting it out as the back-court inevitably implodes because there’s too many ball-handlers, but only one ball, and Ainge is forced to sell low on one of his prized guards?  The Celtics needed size and versatility, and they got it in the form of Jaylen Brown, a 19-year-old who’s almost 6’8″ who moves with the quickness of a 6’3″ guard and the body force of a 6’10″ forward.  Jaylen Brown has the potential to be a better than he’s getting credit for, which is crazy considering he was the 3rd highest ranked recruit in the country before this year.  Plus, his decline in value could easily be the result of the system run at Cal: the team’s lack of spacing caused him to develop bad habits, so his numbers at Cal are tainted.  According to DraftExpress, Brown shot over 38% from 3 before college, but at Cal, that percentage dropped all the way to 29%.   The NBA media ate up reports of Jamal Murray making 79 of 100 3’s and Buddy Hield making 85 of his 100: don’t slouch on Jaylen Brown, who reportedly made 76 of 100.

Jaylen Brown has the ability to be a great player in this league, much better than the players that the Celtics could have been pressured into trading the #3 pick for.


Trust in Jaylen,Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 11.45.17 AM because in Stevens we trust.  If there’s anyone who can help Jaylen develop his skills, it’s Brad.  Don’t be in such a rush to get that star: even if the Celts traded for Butler or Love or Hayward, would that seriously attract Durant over the Thunder, the Warriors, or the Spurs, all teams that could legitimately win the title next year?  Who’s timeline are we basing this win now mentality on? Besides Amir Johnson, Isaiah Thomas is the oldest player on the Celtics at 25, and the rest are closer to 22 than 25 – where are the veterans Boston needs to make a deep playoff run and legitimately contend with LeBron for The King of the East?  

Do you trust Marcus Smart to be your 6th man against the Warriors?  Don’t forget that the Celtics got obliterated by the Atlanta Hawks.  Take a second and say that in your head real quick: the Hawks are the same team that had a “Tinder night” to attract fans to the games. The same team that’s best players didn’t show up for 5 out of their 6 games in the 1st round.  

A team is built one piece at a time, the Pyramids weren’t built in a day, and The 2019 NBA Champion Boston Celtics won’t be built in a Draft class.  

Danny’s Choice

 

There aren’t many superstars available, and those that are over-valued by their teams and cost way too much.  The Celtics may need to put their dream star on lay away if they do find a trade partner, but until then, here’s a look at everyone Boston should even consider trading for – and whether they should buy low or high.

Kevin Love:

Kevin was an All-Star, but now he is a guy who moves more in his chocolate milk commercial than he does in an actual game; that’s why they need to buy low.  There are questions about his knees, plus we don’t know if he’ll ever play like he did a few years ago again. Even if they were to trade for him, there would need to be a third team involved to make it work, because the Celtics valuable asset are draft picks, and the Cavs don’t give a shit about the draft.  Utah might be a possible partner, or maybe Denver, or possibly the Suns or Magic; regardless, it would be too high price to pay for a guy that may or may not be the basketball equivalent to racing horse with a broken leg.

BUY LOWWWWWW.

Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor:

The rumors circulating before the draft about Okafor and Noel both being moved to the Celtics for the #3 pick is literally insane and I refuse to believe it.  The pick itself didn’t have much value: the Celtics weren’t even able to trade down because none of the teams in the top 8 were concerned about losing out on anyone.  Both of these guys have their issues, but if the Celtics go for it, they should target Noel.  Plus, he would be cheaper than Okafor.

BUY LOW.

Carmelo Anthony:

Carmelo is old and I don’t trust those knees – hell no.  Carmelo has only played in cold cities his entire career – if he leaves NYC it will be to Hawaii, not to Boston.

Buy low.

Blake Griffin:

There’s only a year left on Griffin’s contract, but I don’t mind this as much as some might.  For me, it depends on if Blake still has his versatility.  Anyways, it doesn’t matter because Doc wont do it.  Maybe they’ll get him in free agency next year, but with the cap going up, I’m not sure it makes sense to pay 30 million a year to guy who’s had multiple leg injuries in a place like Boston where stars get injured all the time.

Buy low (still).

Jabari Parker:

Jabari is one year removed from a knee injury that ended his rookie season.  He can be a great scorer one day, and is still only 21 going into his second full season.  Unless Giannas says he can’t play with him, I don’t think he’s leaving the Bucks.

Buy high.

Jimmy Butler:

Please people just stop, It’s not happening.

No.

Demarcus Cousins:

I’ve heard Demarcus described as many things, but i’ve never heard ‘friendly’ as one of them.  Demarcus is considered by most to be a poison in the locker-room, so, even with his athletic ability, bringing him in could disgruntle the whole team, potentially destroying what the Celtics have built.  On top of that, he would probably cost both Brooklyn Picks, Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown,Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, and at least on of Luck’s pots of gold.

Not sure if buy.

Kenneth Faried:

You might be asking yourself “Kennth who?” right about now: if so, Kenneth Faried is the one-time prospect, now 26 year-old who has under performed his expectations in Denver.  With Gallinari on the rise, Faried will sour in the Nuggets’ eyes.  When this occurs, Boston could get him for very cheap, giving the Celtics a guy who can rebound on the offensive glass.  With Brad Stevens at the helm, the Celtics can get him to play at a high level close to every game.

Buy low.

Honorable mentions:

Gordon Hayward(Utah over-values him), Greg Monroe(Not sure Bucks can trade him this early into his contract because of their ego), and Paul Millsap (Would love this, but Atlanta over-values all their players).

What to Expect Next Season.

 

Assuming they keep all/most of their guards, Jaylen Brown, and Jae Crowder, expect the Celtics not to bring back Evan Turner.   A year after his All-Star selection, expect more teams to go after Isaiah Thomas on defense, making the Celtics more dependent on their other players to produce.  They’ll need to shoot better than 30% from 3 if that’s going to happen. They could make potentially some key roster additions to immediately make them better, like signing Ryan Anderson and/or Jared Dudley.  If they added Al Horford and/or Joakim Noah, they would improve exponentially; but don’t count on Horford leaving Atlanta or Noah not going to the Knicks.

Next season will look a lot like the one you’ve just seen from Boston.

Where has the Time Gone?

 

In the early 80’s, the 76ers, the Lakers, and the Celtics were the three best teams in the NBA.  Now, they are the three highest teams in the draft, each going in very different directions.  The days of Magic, Bird, and Dr. J are gone.  As these teams struggle to regain their former glory in a star driven league, we get to sit back and watch the soap opera unfold. So get your popcorn ready, because I won’t be surprised if Swaggy P pulls out a chair WWE style next season.

Good times.

By Jake Gongora