ESPN NBA Lottery Mock Draft: How did the Celtics do?

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past three seasons, the Boston Celtics have the Brooklyn Nets first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. As of the writing of this post, the Nets win-loss record for the 2015-16 season is 18-48, which puts them second to last in the Eastern Conference and puts the Celtics in a very good position to control a very high Brooklyn draft pick.

Since the Great Celtics Rebuild began in the summer of 2013, Boston Celtics fans around the globe have been waiting for the 2016 NBA Draft to start to take shape. ESPN has released their 2016 NBA Lottery Mock Draft, which gives users the chance to spin the wheel, see where each team could land, and who they may be selecting on Draft Night.

In the name of mathematics and the Boston Celtics, I spun the wheel 100 times. Here is what shook out:

Ben Simmons came up as the first overall draft pick 100 out of 100 times: Earlier today, The Vertical theorized that Ben Simmons is no longer the consensus number one pick after being the consensus number one pick for roughly 18 months… so, right on time for people to question the direction of the draft lottery hype train. After 100 spins of the wheel there was only one sure fire thing to report: Ben Simmons’ name came up first every single time.

Unless something crazy happens in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, Simmons gets hurt, or worse, he does something incredibly stupid, it’s probably best not to overthink it. More often than not, when a guy who generates this much hype gets projected to go first, he goes first.

Where Will The Brooklyn Pick Land: While this could all change depending on what happens across the league over the next 15 games, as of right now, it would take the ghost of Red Auerbach

blowing cigar smoke into the ping pong ball tumbler for the Celtics to end up with the first overall pick. In 100 spins, the Celtics came up with number one 12% of the time, which is very strong, but not quite as strong as the 76ers (30%), Lakers (20%), and Suns (16%).

This, of course, means nothing. During the post-LeBron-pre-LeBron era in Cleveland, the Cavs were somehow able to get first overall pick in the draft three-out-of-four times which is about as lucky as any franchise can get. The Celtics, in their entire history have never held a number one pick, so if there was every a year for the ping pong balls to roll Boston’s way, it is 2016. In the recent past, their chances have been this good; in both 2007 and 2013, Celtics fans has their eyes set on Kevin Durant and Andrew Wiggins, respectively.  Eventually that first overall has to turn Celtic green... doesn't it?

Where Will Boston most likely be Picking: Well this is a bummer. Even though this is probably the best chance for the Celtics to claim the first overall spot in the lottery due to Brooklyn having a truly bad season, based on my 100 spins it looks like the Celtics will barely do better than when they tanked in 2013-14. It is much more likely that the C’s will be picking at number five (36%), number six (17%), or number four (13%).

Who Will They Be Picking: This is where the Lottery Mock Draft Machine defaults to math and forgets logic. Based on my 100 spins the Celtics are most likely to pick:

  • Jamal Murray (53%) 
  • Dragan Bender (15%) 
  • Ben Simmons (12%) 
  • Brandon Ingram (12%) 
  • Kris Dunn (8%)

As ESPN's Chad Ford details in the graphic above, Jamal Murray sounds exactly like the kind of guy the Celtics should be heavily considering… except for that the last thing they need is another guard. Brooklyn will undoubtedly get better in the coming years, and hopefully so will the Celtics. They may not be this high in the lottery again for some time. In that case is it best to draft the best player overall even if it is at the most crowded position in the Celtics locker room?

Numbers don’t lie, so don’t get your hopes up too high about picking number one overall and finding that franchise transforming athlete in this draft. The good news is, ball don’t lie either. Even if it is not a top three pick, Danny Ainge will turn this lottery ticket into something that helps the Celtics improve in the immediate future.

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor