Have Danny Ainge's NBA Draft day trades worked out for Celtics?

Have Danny Ainge's NBA Draft day trades worked out for Celtics?

Another NBA draft, another bevy of first-round picks for the Boston Celtics. Been there, done that, I know. 

If the NBA draft were today, the Celtics would be on the clock three times with picks No. 17, No. 26 and No. 30.

Having so many first-round picks seems like a good thing, right?

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Not so much when your roster already has a large share of players relatively new to the NBA like the Celtics. 

More than half of the Celtics current roster (eight players) are still on their rookie deals, and that doesn’t include two-way players Tremont Waters and Tacko Fall. That’s why the likelihood of Boston trading at least one of their three first-round picks this year seems very likely. 

And while trading first-round picks is always on the Danny Ainge à la carte menu of draft-day options, the results have been mixed in recent years.

2019 NBA DRAFT

The Celtics traded the No. 20 pick (Matisse Thybulle) to Philadelphia in exchange for two picks: No. 24 (used to select Ty Jerome) and No. 33 (Carsen Edwards). 

Jerome was immediately shipped out to Phoenix as part of the trade package which also sent Aron Baynes to the Suns. So this trade was essentially Thybulle for Edwards.

It’s still early, but Thybulle has been the best player involved in this trade. 

He has elite, All-NBA defensive potential, the kind of player who would have formed a hellacious backcourt defensively if you paired him up with Marcus Smart. 

NBA.com stats show that Thybulle limited opponents to just 37.4 percent on shots at least 15 feet from the rim. 

To put that in perspective, Smart, who was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team last season, held opponents to 38.4 percent shooting from 15 or more feet away from the rim. 

Meanwhile, Jerome and Edwards played limited minutes and struggled for the most part when they got on the floor. 

2017 NBA DRAFT

The Boston Celtics finally got the number one overall pick in the draft … only to trade it away!

Boston traded the top overall pick (Markelle Fultz) to the Sixers in exchange for moving down two spots to select Jayson Tatum along with adding a future first-round pick that was used in 2019 to select Romeo Langford. 

While not much time has passed since this draft went down, it has clearly been one that the Celtics won by a decisive margin. 

And remember, the Celtics didn’t have to be bad in order to wind up with the top overall pick.

It was part of the team’s blockbuster deal in 2013 with Brooklyn that allowed the Celtics the right to swap first-round picks in 2017. 

The 22-year-old Tatum is already an All-Star, displaying the kind of game that will soon have him in the league MVP conversation based upon the rate at which his game has been improving. 

He is averaging a team-best 23.6 points per game this season, along with 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals — all career highs for the third-year forward. 

Not only has Fultz not played anywhere close to the level of Tatum, but Philly’s top pick in 2017 has already been moved on to another team after being acquired via trade by Orlando. 

Fultz has fared better with the Magic with career highs this season in points per game (12.1), assists (5.2) and shooting (47.3 percent). 

But his improved play still lags behind the overall impact made by Tatum. 

As for Langford, he saw limited time as a rookie primarily because of injuries. But as the season progressed, Langford’s defense earned him increased playing time and maybe just as important, more trust from head coach Brad Stevens. He has appeared in 26 games while averaging 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. 

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2013 NBA DRAFT

When the Boston Celtics moved up three spots to the No. 13 spot via trade while sending the No. 16 pick to the Dallas Mavericks, there was some talk that the move was being made to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Instead, the Celtics picked Kelly Olynyk while Antetokounmpo, now the reigning league MVP, was Milwaukee’s pick at No. 15 — one spot before Boston’s slot prior to flipping picks with the Mavericks.

The Mavericks used the 16th overall pick from Boston to acquire Lucas Noguiera, who wound up being traded by Dallas to Atlanta (Dallas was focused on creating additional cap space by flipping the pick), before eventually landing in Toronto where he played four seasons. The 7-foot Brazilian center has returned to playing internationally, having not been on an NBA roster since 2018.

Boston was among the teams that whiffed on taking Antetokounmpo, obviously. 

But considering who the Celtics made the trade with to acquire Olynyk, this would qualify as a trade that worked out better for Boston than their trading partner. 

2011 NBA DRAFT

Coming off a second-round playoff loss to the Miami Heat, the Celtics looked very much like a veteran team in desperate need of an influx of young talent — particularly in the frontcourt.

Picking near the end of the first round, the Celtics swapped the No. 25 pick (MarShon Brooks from nearby Providence College) for Brooklyn’s No. 27 selection which was used on JaJuan Johnson. 

This trade didn’t work out for either team, although Brooks enjoyed a much more fruitful NBA career. 

Making matters worse, the Celtics were one of the many teams that whiffed on Jimmy Butler in this draft, as the five-time All-Star wound up being selected by Chicago with the 30th overall pick of the first round. 

Johnson played just 36 games in the NBA, all with Boston, before being traded to Houston (and waived before the start of the 2012-2013 season) as part of a three-team trade.

The 6-foot-10 forward has spent the bulk of his career playing internationally with his most recent stint coming with Bahçeşehir Koleji of the Turkish Super Basketball League. 

Brooks has played five seasons in the NBA for five different teams, including a 10-game stint with the Celtics. 

After averaging a career-high 12.6 points per game as a rookie with the Nets, Brooks struggled to latch on with any team beyond a season or so before ultimately taking his talents overseas. 

Like Johnson, his best years professionally have come while playing internationally. He spent this past season with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Shane Larkin's lone season with Celtics 'huge step' toward EuroLeague superstardom

Shane Larkin's lone season with Celtics 'huge step' toward EuroLeague superstardom

BOSTON -- While Shane Larkin appeared in 54 games (two starts) with the Boston Celtics, playing time wasn’t nearly as plentiful as he would have wanted. 

But like most of the players who have come through town since head coach Brad Stevens’ arrival in 2013, Larkin left on good terms. 

And some of the lessons learned during his time in Boston, Larkin credits for being instrumental in his growth and development into arguably the best player in EuroLeague play this past season. 

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“Overall, I became a much better basketball player, playing in Boston,” Larkin said on the Celtics Talk Podcast. “Just the way I saw the game, the way I read the game.”

While playing with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, Larkin led the team to a EuroLeague-best record while averaging 22.2 points on 53.0 percent shooting from the field, 50.9 percent shooting on 3’s, along with making 90.3 percent of his free throws. 

As a Celtic, Larkin acknowledged having a familiar face also helped his acclimation process. 

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Larkin had an established relationship with Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, whose father Jim Larranaga was Larkin’s head coach at the University of Miami. 

In Boston, Jay Larranaga was the Celtics’ assistant coach who Larkin spent the most time working with on his shooting and various ball-handling skills. 

On those nights when Larkin would not get into games or play limited minutes, he was back in the gym the following day with Larranaga, focused on improving his all-around game to best ensure when his opportunity to play arrived that he would indeed be ready. 

“That year, on the court and off the court, mentally, physically, I just took a huge step in my development as a man, as a player,” Larkin said. “And it has really helped me get to where I am today.

Larkin added, “Boston has a great thing, a great setup right now. And if you’re lucky enough to be a Celtic at this current time, you’re definitely going to come out of there in much better shape than you went in.”

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.

 

Celtics Talk Podcast: Ex-Celtic Shane Larkin reflects on EuroLeague shutdown

Celtics Talk Podcast: Ex-Celtic Shane Larkin reflects on EuroLeague shutdown

Shane Larkin’s expectations playing internationally weren’t all that different than his days in college at Miami or during his stints in the NBA, the last of which was two years ago with the Boston Celtics. 

He wants to compete; and in doing so, wins usually follow. 

That was indeed the case for Larkin, who played with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes squad, which had its sights on being this year’s EuroLeague champion. 

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But those dreams were dashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which was at the heart of the EuroLeague canceling the remainder of this season, one in which Larkin was the league’s top scorer and his team had the best overall record prior to the season prematurely ending.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Larkin told A. Sherrod Blakely on the Celtics Talk Podcast. “We were in first place. We had a great season going on. So, I felt we had a great opportunity to win a championship. But at the end of the day, sometimes things happen like that with a bigger purpose. This virus came around and impacted people in so many negative ways. I just think right now, health is more important than chasing a championship. At the end of the day, I think it’s the right decision. Health is the most important thing and that’s the reason they canceled it, so it’s cool with me.

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Larkin had an Instagram post recently that included his thoughts on the league resuming play while indicating that a “large majority” of players did not want to resume playing under the current status of the COVID-19 virus.

Knowing that would mean an abrupt and premature ending to this fairy tale of a season for him and his teammates, was a tough pill to swallow.

“We were all dying to get out there and play,” he said. “We’re all disappointed that we won’t have a chance to fight for a championship but we’re all good with the decision because health is the most important thing.

Larkin, who was with the Celtics during the 2017-2018 season, became an international star this season.

He led Anadolu Efe in scoring with 22.2 points per game while connecting on 53.0 percent of his shots from the field, 50.9 percent from 3-point range and 90.3 percent from the free throw line.

Larkin’s numbers in Boston -- 4.3 points per game while appearing in 54 games -- weren’t nearly as good as they were overseas in large part because he was playing behind Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart.

He looks back on his time in Boston with fond memories; well, most of the time, anyway.

“I used to think about it (that season) a lot,” Larkin said. “Especially the way it ended for me; it was kind of unfortunate.

Larkin’s season ended in Game 4 of Boston’s playoff series against Philadelphia when he suffered a left shoulder injury while trying to go underneath a Joel Embiid screen.

“I was done for the rest of the playoffs,” Larkin recalled. “So I always think about how I could have maneuvered that screen a little differently to try and help the team out. But it was an unbelievable run. I saw a lot of guys take their careers to another level in that series.”

The same can be said for Larkin with what he has done overseas.

His numbers this past season validate him as arguably the best player in the EuroLeague, which is widely considered the next-best professional basketball league in the world, behind the NBA.

Larkin will be a free agent this summer and is open to pretty much whatever comes his way be it in the NBA or picking up where he left off overseas. 

“I don’t know when any of my free agency stuff will start,” Larkin said. “So, I’m sitting around, waiting for that to happen; stay in shape, keep my body right and see what happens. In this current state, nobody knows what’s going to happen anytime soon. So, I have to stay prepared for any opportunities that come across and see what happens."

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.