Ready yourself for anything tonight, but expect very little. The Celtics will probably keep the 25th pick and select some relatively small name who will in all likelihood make little to no impact next season. Or maybe they’ll trade the selection for whatever they can get because they don’t expect anybody that late in the draft to contribute. Or maybe they’ll trade up a few spots and select another relatively small name who will probably spend next year picking splinters from his rump.
Don’t be completely blind-sided if the Celtics use the draft as a springboard to trades, to change, to evolution, but don’t expect any substantial, franchise-altering trades. The chances, of course, that Danny Ainge drastically changes the team’s nucleus tonight remain small. But Ainge—for better and for worse—has always shot first, then asked questions later. He maintains that he would have broken up the Larry Bird-Kevin McHale-Robert Parish triumvirate before the trio broke down, and he has already broken up Boston’s unbeaten starting five. Assume that if Ainge believes he can find proper value for Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce or even Rajon Rondo, one or more star Celtics will find himself in the market for a new home.
Short of a trade, the draft will be bland, at least from Boston’s perspective. A weak draft, two low choices—the Celtics are more likely to find another Allan Ray than the next Ray Allen. We can get excited about Jimmy Butler (and his fantastic story, and his reportedly otherworldly attitude), but we should remember that he’s not nearly as talented as Jeff Green, and that we (or at least I) spent most of last season cursing at Green under our breath. We can get excited about Nikola Vucevic, but is he really the type of player an NBA team should trade up to acquire? We can get excited about Jeremy Tyler, but he was underwhelming while playing in Japan; what’s to say he will make an impact in the NBA? We can get excited about this shooter, that rebounder, or that scorer, but whoever becomes the 25th pick could very well play more D-League games than NBA games in 2012.
“When we’re drafting where we’re drafting — I’m not trying to put a negative spin on this, I’m trying to be realistic — the 25th pick in the draft is probably not going to help us immediately,’’ Ainge told the Boston Globe.
“But there are some players that we’re thinking can fill our roster, will fit in with the personality of our team, and have a work ethic and make our team better in practice and add depth to our roster.’’
Translation: expect the Celtics to draft Luke Harangody, not Paul Pierce. Expect Avery Bradley, not Rajon Rondo. Expect Von Wafer, not Ray Allen. Expect tonight to unfold with barely a whisper, with a lower-tier prospect who might one day boost Ainge’s status as a diamond miner (or, perhaps more likely, become the next J.R. Giddens).
The Celtics need to fill a lot of roster spots this offseason. They need size, and a backup point guard, and now that I’m thinking about it, an entirely new bench. Change will come. But tonight, blandness seems far more likely.