Analyzing Danny Ainge's draft history

The Boston Celtics have a ton of first round picks. If you were for some truly odd reason living under a rock, you'd probably still know that the Boston Celtics have a ton of picks.

While the Celtics are unlikely to use even a majority of the picks they have collected, the team's ability to rebound into the success fans are hoping for requires Danny Ainge to 'hit' on at least a few of his picks.

With that in mind, I decided to take a look at Ainge's draft-history. Below you'll find a list of not only the players Ainge has drafted, but also the names of noteworthy players who were also available at the time he drafted to get a better understanding of his track record as a drafter.

To be clear, that's the point of the exercise. A better understanding of what Danny has done well, and how well he has done it. Where he's fallen short, and how badly he missed.

It's not to say 'What a doofus! He could've picked him when he picked him!' No GM is perfect, and every team in the league could compile a pretty impressive list of players they could've had just by picking the best of 2nd round.

A few quick notes - I only looked at first round picks. Also, I decided to not include draft picks traded away as I didn't think it was a good reflection on Ainge's ability to draft. Additionally, to keep things simple, if a draft day trade was made and didn't include other significant parts I just wrote down the end-product. You can find a complete list of moves here if you're interested in the details.


Players Selected: Marcus Banks (13), Kendrick Perkins (27)
Other Noteworthy Players Available: David West (18), Boris Diaw (21), Travis Outlaw (23), Leandro Barbosa (28), Josh Howard (29), Steve Blake (38), Keith Bogans (43), Matt Bonner (45), Mo Williams (47), Kyle Korver (51)

Grade: B-

Kendrick Perkins takes a lot of flack as his game continues to deteriorate, and the Thunder are only just starting to accept that as fact. But he was a dang good defensive force who helped this team secure a championship. If you get that out of your 27th pick you go home happy, period. (I suppose I could've just used the punctuation for period but I feel like writing 'period' really hammers my point home).

On the other hand, Marcus Banks was terrible. How we, a point guard who couldn't shoot and never averaged even 4 assists per game, was able to play in the league for eight years is beyond me.

Still, while there were a lot of 'nice to have' players, it's not as if the Celtics missed out on any monster players by selecting Banks.


Players Selected: Al Jefferson (15), Delonte West (24), Tony Allen (25)
Other Noteworthy Players Available: Josh Smith (17), JR Smith (18), Jameer Nelson (20), Kevin Martin (26), Anderson Varejao (30)

Grade: A

Couldn't ask for much better of a performance. Was able to draft a franchise center in the middle of the first round, and hit on two very good contributors at the tail end of the first round.

As impressive as the first part of that is, I'd almost argue that hitting on West and Allen were more. In looking through all of these drafts I'm reminded how hit and miss everything outside of the lottery can be. TA is an elite perimeter defender, and Delonte West was one heckuva complimentary player for a good stretch of time.


Player Selected: Gerald Green (18)
Other Noteworthy Players Available: Nate Robinson (21), Jarrett Jack (22), Jason Maxiel (26), David Lee (30), Brandon Bass (33), Monta Ellis (40), Lou Williams (45), Amir Johnson (56), Marcin Gortat (57)

Grade: C

Despite some flashes, and some truly amazing dunks, Green never really panned out for the Celtics (nor the next dozen teams that gave him a look), and by the time he was traded his value seemed to be just above dirt.

So, why a C? I just can't fault Danny too much on this one. This draft is just so weird. The noteworthy players read like they're in reverse.


Player Selected: JR Giddens (30)
Other Noteworthy Players Available: Nikola Pekovic (31), Mario Chalmers (34), DeAndre Jordan (35), Omer Asik (36), Goran Dragic (45)

Grade: F

That's a pretty tough pill to swallow. While you never know what to expect out of a late first round pick, you're hoping to get someone who could do something. JR was a perennial bench warmer in his four years in the league, and no one has ever looked more like a deer in the head lights when he was able to play.

To make matters worse, the few noteworthy players selected after him is a pretty impressive list of very impactful players selected almost directly after.


Player Selected: Avery Bradley (19)
Other Noteworthy Players Available: Lance Stephenson (40)

Grade: A-

Instinctually, I think a lot of people will grimace to see Avery Bradley listed as an 'A-'. But it's important to remember the names you're NOT seeing on this list; 41 players were selected after Avery in this draft and virtually every one of them were complete duds.

With limited available talent, Ainge was able to draft a starting-level talent who has turned himself into a pretty decent player.


Player Selected: JaJuan Johnson (27)
Other Noteworthy Players Available: Norris Cole (28), Jimmy Butler (30), Chandler Parsons (38), Isaiah Thomas (60)

Grade: D-

Oh, how happy I am that I wasn't writing for CelticsLife in 2011, because I thought JJ was the absolute TRUTH. Lot of length with a great midrange shot, AND he gets to learn from Kevin Garnett?!

Of course Johnson famously only made it through one year in the league. Like Giddens, he was never able to contribute at any level, and like Giddens had a whole mess of impact players picked directly behind him.


Players selected: Jared Sullinger (21), Fab Melo (22)
Other Noteworthy Players Available: Tony Wroten (25), Miles Plumlee (26), Jae Crowder (34), Draymond Green (35)

Grade: B-

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The jury is still out on exactly how good Jared Sullinger will be, but you can't be anything but happy to be able to get that much talent out of the 21st pick.

Fab Melo on the other hand was... Fab Melo. And while there wasn't a ton of talent selected after him, though Green looks like an absolute gem, to me what makes it worse if having Plumlee directly after. Two players with the exact same skill set. One is out of the league, one is a fairly decent contributor.


Player selected: Kelly Olynyk (13)
Other Noteworthy Players Available: Giannis Antetokounmpo (15), Dennis Schroeder (16), Gorgui Dieng (21), Mason Plumlee (22), Tim Hardaway (24), Rudy Gorbet (27), Ray McCallum (36)

Grade: B+

A lot of people might not think Olynyk is the absolute best of the bunch, but it's not like any of the noteworthy players selected after him are decidedly better than Olynyk is.

I chose not to include an analysis of Marcus Smart, because the season is too young.

Final Tally:

1 F, 1 D-, 1 C, 2 B-, 1 B+, 1 A-, 1 A

Pick Positions:

01-05: 0*
06-10: 1*
11-15: 3
16-20: 2
21-25: 4
26-30: 3

Quick Analysis: I think a lot of people will be quick to jump on the lack of impressive names in this, but considering where he's drafted, and who was available at the time he drafted, I think that Ainge has done a pretty respectable job in his tenure here. 

*The Celtics traded away the 5th pick of the 2007 draft to acquire Ray Allen, and the 7th pick of the 2006  draft to acquire Sebastian Telfair