DeAndre Ayton
Red Auerbach did it at least four times over roughly three decades and had 16 Championships to show for it. Auerbach had a talent for discerning potential NBA-level talent in collegians and working deals to get them.

In the 1956 NBA draft, Red wangled a convoluted arrangement where he gave up Ed McCauley, Cliff Hagen and the Ice Capades for Bill Russell. The 11 Championships that followed are proof enough of just how well that one worked.

Auerbach followed that deal up in the 1970 draft by choosing Dave Cowens with the 4th pick, in large part because of Russell's recommendation of the kid's potential despite being only 6'8.5" tall. In 1978 Auerbach grabbed Larry Bird with the 6th pick as a Junior eligible and Larry joined the team in 1979. The following year Red worked a deal to get both Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for Joe Barry Carroll.

Russell, Cowens, Bird and McHale were all big men that were tagged by Auerbach as future stars, and that is what they all became. The quartet helped account for 16 Celtics Championships. Red's disciple, Danny Ainge, has one Championship as a General Manager under his belt, in large part by bringing big man, Kevin Garnett, into the fold at the age of 31.

Thus far, Danny has generally gone after ball-handlers and wings in the draft, and he has acquired some amazing talents. The upcoming June 21st NBA draft is one loaded with bigs, some of whom may have game-changing ability in the League. In the modern NBA's position-less schemes, there is definitely room for the versatile, mobile big that can do everything out on the floor.

Clearly, no GM wanted Russell as much as Red. He was a defensive, rebounding big with limited offensive potential. Cowens was considered too small to play center, but Russell told Red otherwise. Bird lacked athleticism, but Red knew it wouldn't matter. McHale had height and an ungodly wingspan to go with obvious talent. Auerbach knew he would fit right in.

Mo Bamba

There are six big men that are slated to probably be taken in the top-10 in this draft. They are:
7' DeAndre Ayton
6'11" Marvin Bagley
6'11" Jaren Jackson, Jr.
7' Mo Bamba
6'11" Michael Porter
6'10" Wendell Carter

There are no guarantees that any of them will turn into dominant superstars in the NBA, but the chances are good that at least one or two of them could be franchise players after some seasoning in the League. The Celtics, drafting at #27, have zero chance of having one of the six fall to the bottom of the first round, but if Ainge sees overwhelming potential in one of them, he would have to work a trade to have a shot at him.

Danny is not simply looking for one isolated Championship as an NBA exec. He already has that. Current Celtics center, Al Horford, recently turned 32 years old. It would seem that this year is the time for Boston to go after their future center they dearly need via the draft - if - and it's a big if - one of these six are seen by Ainge as a game-changer.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC
Ayton photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports
Bamba photo via Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Tom Lane 6/12/2018 09:40:00 AM Edit
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