The Celtics have the opportunity to earn one of the more rare accolades in all of sports this week. They could lock up the No. 1 seed in the East with a win on Wednesday (thanks to another Cavs loss Monday night) to go along with the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Now the Celtics are still at the mercy of some goddamn ping pong balls, but thanks to the Nets being an abysmal basketball team, they’ve already locked up the best odds at the No. 1 overall pick of any team this year. So it would be pretty wild to see one of the best teams in the league (at least by record) with the No. 1 overall pick. That never happens. The last time I can remember anything close to that would probably be the Celtics winning the 1985-86 title and then drafting Len Bias No. 2 overall. Hopefully it works out a little better this time around.
Normally you need to hit rock bottom before you can start getting better in the NBA. Or just be the Cavaliers: get three No. 1 overall picks in 4 years and then have the best player in the world come back to town. That also works. But usually you have to absolutely bottom out so you can get a lottery pick and start building around that top talent from the draft. You don’t do yourself any good consistently being a No. 6 seed and then getting a draft pick in the 20’s. Thats how you become the Atlanta Hawks.
Sometimes you’ll see a rare case with a good team having one real down year, luck out with a top pick after a terrible season, then get back on track. Case and point the 1996-97 Spurs who had Tim Duncan fall into their lap. They went 59-23 in the 1995-96 season then fell to 20-62 the next year before taking Duncan No. 1 overall and then jumping back up to 56-26 and starting the run of success they’re STILL on.
But you never see a top team with a top draft pick while they’re CURRENTLY a top team. So for all the shit Trader Danny takes, the fact that he’s been able to maneuver the Celtics into this situation by trading two aging superstars in their late 30’s for multiple Lottery Picks is amazing by itself.
If the Celtics can turn just ONE of those Nets draft picks into a home run, then this is the Herschel Walker trade of the NBA that will be talked about forever. I cannot wait to watch that 30 for 30.
What if I told you a General Manager took an aging roster and turned them into a Lottery ticket? This is the story of how Danny Ainge swindled the suddenly cash happy and attention starved Brooklyn Nets out of a bushel of NBA Lottery picks and got the Celtics back to the promise land with the quickest rebuild in league history. Trader Danny. Directed by Bill Simmons.
Or they’ll continue to butcher draft picks with players that aren’t good enough to make the roster so they have to stash them in Europe and the Celtics fade back into mediocrity. That is a frighteningly real possibility. But you gotta figure Danny is due to hit on a stud. Maybe that superstar is already here in Jaylen Brown, but it sure as shit won’t hurt for Danny to get 2 more cracks at it. Since the Nets ain’t getting better any time soon and we’ve got their picks both this year and next. Or maybe Danny swings the draft pick for a guy like Paul George. Either way the Celtics are gonna need another superstar to make a real run at another Larry O’Brien trophy.
We’ll see, but as loud as that clock is ticking on this window of opportunity to make something big happen, name one GM in the entire freaking league who wouldn’t sell his soul to be in Ainge’s position right now. Just don’t blow it, Danny.