Celtics Nation expressed disappointment after another NBA Draft Day came and went without a blockbuster trade. Further, a number of fans have been critical of the decisions made by Danny Ainge and Wyc Grousbeck, particularly in regards to their passing on a number of ‘alleged’ trade offers and selecting of Jaylen Brown with the 3rd overall pick.
My view is that Danny and Wyc made the right calls, once again positioning Boston to be a major player in free-agency and trade markets. My reasoning is as follows:
Let’s start off with a review of recent history. Danny Ainge engineered the trade for KG, a maneuver that took 3 years of careful deliberation between Danny and the Minnesota front office, as Danny waited patiently to strike just as the moment came. He also sealed the infamous Nets deal, securing Brooklyn’s first round selections for years to come – including the pick used to select Jaylen Brown this year. At the time, KG and Paul Pierce were years away from retirement – it didn’t take long for the Nets to realize that they’d been robbed. A true heist! Danny finished laying the foundations by acquiring Isaiah Thomas and Jay Crowder for pennies on the dollar, tying a bow around the most efficient rebuild in recent NBA history.
Given his extraordinary record, Celtic’s fans should really give Danny the benefit of the doubt. It’s hard to believe that a bandit like Ainge would leave a good offer on the table; I question many of the trade offers I see on social media. More likely than not, they’re just rumors planted by rival GMs and agents trying to gain a competitive edge.
Based on what we know, it makes sense that the Celtics stayed put rather than pull the trigger before the right opportunity reveals itself. It makes no sense to completely gut the current roster and give up all their valuable future picks to get a player like Jimmy Butler, though he is an All-Star talent and a great two-way player, without question. He’s simply not on a level where he alone brings a team a 55+ win season – and if the Celtics had to cough up too hefty a price to secure his services, they wouldn’t be able to build a championship team around him.
Jahil Okafor’s name floated around before the draft as a potential target, but he’s not a particularly good fit for the Celtics. Okafor is best utilized by surrounding him with strong spot-up shooting and letting him produce from the post; but the Celtics are not a team with talented outside-shooting. On the defensive end, Jahlil is a below-average rim protector. He is a talented young center, but his stats are a reflection of his freedom to rack up stats as the only option on the worst team in the league. Jaylen is a much better fit for what the Celtics need going forward.
Looking at all realistic scenarios, the return that potential trade partners likely demanded, in conjunction with the lack of cap-space pressure on the Celtics, in all probability Danny made the right choice to stand pat and instead take a flier on the young and explosive Jaylen Brown.
Brown is a high risk pick, which could mean a high reward if things go the Celtics’ way. Despite his age, Jaylen has an NBA-ready body NOW. He’s a freshman prospect, but he’s physically ready for the NBA, with a 7 foot wingspan. In the modern NBA, he will be capable of defending pick-and-rolls by switching on a guy playing 1-4, or even a small ball 5. He’s highly intelligent, taking advanced classes at Cal during his one year there, despite his obligations as an athlete. Perhaps most importantly, Cal failed to surround him with suitably fitting talent, limiting his ability to demonstrate his value as a potential NBA player to the fullest extent. One season in the NCAA is a small sample size of games; throughout his prep career, Brown was the #2 ranked prospect in his class. I live in Metro Atlanta, and during his prep career, Jaylen’s reputation was that of a hard worker and an overall good young man.
I realize that his outside shooting needs work, and I realize that he occasionally disappeared in games while he played for Cal, but overall, he had the highest upside at #3 and projects to be a good fit for the Celtics. Outside of Jay Crowder, the Celtics have a glaring weakness in their wing depth.
We Celtics fans need to keep the full picture in perspective and trust that Danny made the right calls. Let’s see what happens in free-agency. Boston just needs a little more patience.