Top 5 Celtics Draft Disappointments…and Who They Could Have Taken Instead

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April 6, 2010 by Jeffrey A. Lambert

Kevin Durant has proven himself to be the newest member of the NBA Elite in his third season. His continued stellar play has been great for the NBA and for the new basketball franchise in Oklahoma City. His third season numbers give both parties plenty to be excited about. As of tonight, Kevin Durant is in the top 5 in the NBA in points, points per game, free throws, and field goals made. Thanks to his play, the OKC Thunder find themselves with a strong chance of playing playoff ball in April and a chance at winning 50 games this season.

It’s hard to believe that Durant was passed up for the first overall pick three years ago. It’s even harder to believe (and live with) if you are a Trailblazers fan. The ascension of Durant compared to the decline of the chosen one from 2008, Mr. Greg Oden, is another chapter in the NBA book of early pick busts and later selection successes. Believe it or not, this has been a common trend for the NBA throughout its history.

Like any other team, The Celtics have had their fair share of high drafts picks that didn’t work out in their favor. Here is a list of the five biggest draft disappointments for the Celtics, along with a hindsight view of who they passed up by taking said player.

5. Jerome Moiso

Draft Position: 11th Overall

Time w/ Celtics: 1 Year

This was the last draft pick of the Rick Pitino era, and thankfully too. Hoping to add some muscle down low to help out the dynamic duo of Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, the Celts decided to draft the 232 pound center out of UCLA. Unfortunately for the big guy, he didn’t see much playing time during his one and only season in Boston, averaging about 5 minutes a game. His lumber-some hustle and cupcake post play didn’t give the Celtics any reason to keep him in the fold to see if he’d improve. It didn’t turn out all bad for Boston though; they actually suckered the 76ers into giving up a first round pick in a trade to acquire him.

Other Draft Choices Available: Hedo Turkoglu, Desmond Mason, Quentin Richardson

4. Kedrick Brown

Draft Position: 10th Overall

Time w/ Celtics: 3 Years

The Celtics went into the 2001 draft with two lottery picks: #s 10 & 11. Desperate to add another scorer to help out Walker and Pierce, Boston selected (G) Joe Johnson with the 10th pick and (G-F) Kedrick Brown with the 11th. Brown was labeled a “risky” pick right off the bat because he was coming out of a junior college without experience against top NCAA teams. Kedrick saw minor minutes in his time in Boston, partly due to his lackluster play and also because of the Celtics playoff runs during his time here. He was finally packaged up in a deal with Cleveland for Ricky Davis.

Other Draft Choices Available: Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker

3. Eric Montross

Draft Position: 9th Overall

Time w/ Celtics: 2 Years

Riding high on leading the Tar Heels to the NCAA Championship in 1993, Eric Montross was taken 9th overall by Boston in the 1994 draft. The Celtics had high hopes for the college standout, who was named an All-American his junior and senior years at North Carolina. Eric had a successful rookie season, making the NBA All-Rookie Second Team and averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds. The Celtics were suffering from age and injury problems though (Sherman Williams, Dominique Wilkins, Dino Radja), as the only viable threat on the team besides Montross was (G) Dee Brown. Feeling he wasn’t living up to expectations, Boston traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for a pair of first round picks (stay tuned for those two eventual busts). Even though Eric posted semi-solid numbers during his time here and never got the opportunity to really settle in, fans wanted him to be the second coming of Robert Parish and give Boston another dominant center. Unfortunately for Eric, his first season was his last notable one in the NBA.

Other Draft Choices Available: Eddie Jones, Jalen Rose, Aaron McKie

2. Joe Johnson

Draft Position: 10th Overall

Time w/ Celtics: 1 Year

In some minds, I’m sure highly drafted players like Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer would have made more sense to put here. If you jump back into their playing careers with the Celtics though, both put up good numbers during their time in Boston and were the victims of hasty trades to add veterans for failed playoff runs in 1997 & 1999. Joe Johnson’s performance as a Celtic was disappointing to say the least. There were high expectations on his ability to both step in right away and provide scoring, neither of which he did. In 48 games with the Celtics he averaged 6.3 ppg while averaging over 20 minutes a game. That lack of spark caused the Celtics to pack him up and send him to Phoenix in exchange for Rodney Rogers & Tony Delk, two veterans who Boston hoped could add depth for the playoffs that year. Joe is now considered a top scorer in the league and has been named an all-star four times, meeting the expectations many scouts had for him when  he was drafted. Too bad that talent didn’t emerge until after he was out of Boston.

Other Draft Choices Available: Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Tony Parker

1. Michael Smith

Draft Position: 3rd Overall

Time w/ Celtics: 2 Years

As the 1980’s came to a close and Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, and Larry Bird were at the tail-end of their careers, the Celtics looked to keep their dynasty alive through the NBA draft. First there was the untimely death of #2 overall pick Len Bias in 1986, and then there was the draft bust known as Michael Smith. Smith was drafted by the Celtics with the 3rd overall pick in the 1989 draft. Unfortunately for Smith, he was automatically compared to Larry Bird due to the “white guy with the great jump shot” similarities. This pressure to be the future of the franchise and the second coming of Larry Legend seemed to have been a bit too much for him to handle. Michael Smith put up great numbers in college at Brigham Young University, finishing as the team’s all-time leader in rebounds and second in points (ironically, Danny Ainge is #1). That success didn’t translate to his NBA career though. Smith lasted two seasons in Boston before heading off to Spain and effectively ending any hopes of living up to the hype that surrounded him out of college. He was the Boston’s last hope at continuing the good times of the “Bird Years” alive.

Other Draft Choices Available: Tim Hardaway, Shawn Kemp, Vlade Divac


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