Kelly Olynyk

Danny Ainge has established a good track record of getting the best player available

Danny Ainge has established a good track record of getting the best player available

The last couple of years have answered the question of whether Danny Ainge can draft. When making his first choice in 2016 and 2017, he was higher on his guy than most. In both cases, he was right. 

No major publication considered Jayson Tatum the best player last year; Ainge would have taken him No. 1 but was able to trade down because the Sixers were trading up for Markelle Fultz and the Lakers for some reason wanted to sign up for the Lonzo Ball life.

Jaylen Brown at No. 3 in 2016? You remember the boos, and you can understand why they happened. Fans were confused. If they'd been checking nbadraft.net like we all did, they expected him to be the ninth pick. 

Yet in both cases, Ainge and Co. were clearly right. Holding a high pick with no consensus option awaiting him, they wound up with the best player available. 

What's more impressive is that they've also done it later in the draft, and the further down the board you go to make your first pick, the easier it is to take a guy who won't amount to anything, let alone prove to be the best possible selection. 

That's what the Celtics did three years ago with Terry Rozier at No. 16. At the time, Bleacher Report Senior NBA writer Howard Beck deemed that selection the "biggest reach" of the draft; at the very least, the Celtics were heavily criticized for taking him where they did.

Go look at that draft and the players who were selected after Rozier. Would you rather any of those guys over Rozier? Maybe Josh Richardson? Maybe? Probably not, though? 

Now, here's where we need to note that the 2015 draft, for as good as it looks now for the Celtics, could have greatly derailed what's been an excellent rebuild. As the legend goes, Ainge intended to trade a whole lot to get from No. 16 to No. 9 in order to select Justise Winslow, who just had a worse third NBA season than Rozier. 

How badly did Ainge want to move up? According to ESPN's Chris Forsberg that summer, Ainge offered Charlotte "as many as six draft picks, including four potential first-round selections," only to have the deal rejected. Keep in mind that the Celtics still had three Brooklyn picks (which would turn into Brown, Tatum and Kyrie Irving) at that point. 

At any rate, the basketball gods saved Ainge from himself and he followed it up by making the right selection. The latter has happened three straight years now. 

Before that, the Celtics looked more human at the draft. Using 2010 as the cutoff (they didn't have a first-round pick in 2009, so 2010 seemed like a good place to keep it semi-recent), the Celtics have had their fair share of not-quite-misses-but-not-quite-home-runs. The Marcus Smart pick (No. 6 overall in 2014) could have been better spent on Dario Saric. Jared Sullinger (21st overall in 2012) could have instead been Draymond Green (No. 35). Three picks after the Celtics took JaJuan Johnson at 27 (via New Jersey), the Bulls took Jimmy Butler.

Of course, there's no more devastating "what if?" to play than looking back at 2013, when the Celtics got Kelly Olynyk at No. 13 (via Dallas), only to later learn they'd passed on the best player in that draft (Giannis Antetokounmpo). 

Yet that three-year run on not getting the best player has been sandwiched by stronger drafting. In 2010, the C's' selection over Avery Bradley at No. 19 proved to be the best pick they could have made. 

The Celtics are slotted to pick at No. 27 Thursday, a spot that promises very little, though they've got more than enough ammunition to move up. Even if they get whoever proves to be the best NBA player of the guys on the board, there's no promise that said player will have much of an NBA career. Their last three top picks have shown that if they do jump up, they'll get the right guy. 

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Celtics 'shouldn’t be surprised' by Olynyk's effort in return

Celtics 'shouldn’t be surprised' by Olynyk's effort in return

BOSTON – In the first half of Wednesday’s game, the Boston Celtics put together a video tribute for Kelly Olynyk that highlighted the significant contributions he made in the New England community when he played for the Celtics.

It was a warm, fuzzy moment for all involved.

And then ... he just murdered the Celtics on the floor in every way imaginable.

The happy-go-lucky, lovin’-the-kids Olynyk on the jumbotron was replaced by an on-the-floor assassin who had his best scoring game in the NBA as the Miami Heat defeated the Celtics 90-89.

Olynyk led all Miami players with a career-high 32 points on an insanely efficient 12-for-15 shooting.

Making matters worse for the Celtics (26-8), one of his mentors a year ago, Al Horford, fouled out early in the fourth when he reached in on – who else?  - Olynyk.

“He did what he’s best at,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “You know, when he can play off of the high post and fake handoffs and you keep biting on all those fakes like we did all night, you let him drove to his left hand – which he’s great at – and then you give him too much of a cushion to get shots, I mean after he gets to the rim, gets foul shots, and everything else he feels really good, and he played a great game.”

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged getting Olynyk and another ex-Celtic Jordan Mickey, off to a good start tonight was one of the key objectives for Miami (16-15).

“We knew how important it was for KO (Kelly Olynyk) and J. Mick (Jordan Mickey),” Spoelstra said. “Both of these guys wanted to play well here and come out here with a win and they both played great minutes.”

Mickey came off the Heat bench and had eight points and eight rebounds with two assists.

“It felt great to come in here and steal a win,” said Mickey, a second-round pick of the Celtics in 2015.

Olynyk made no secret about being a bit more fired up than usual playing in the TD Garden as an opponent for the first time.

And with the Celtics rallying late in the game, Olynyk could sense the crowd was getting more into the action, just how it was when he donned the Green and White.

“It definitely felt like a playoff game,” Olynyk said. “Playoff atmosphere for sure. That’s the way Boston’s crowd, fans are. I mean, they’re crazy about it. That was an emotional night. A fun night. I’m glad we came out of it with a win.”

While some may have been surprised at how dominant Olynyk was on Wednesday, his teammates like Marcus Smart weren’t.

“By this point, we shouldn’t be surprised,” Smart said. “That’s just the competitive nature in every last one of us. You leave a team, you want to prove to that team that for whatever reason, that you should still be there. That’s everybody.

Smart added, “I don’t know why we’re surprised by it. Kelly (Olynyk) kicked our ass!”

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Stars, studs and duds: Celtics can't maintain energy vs. Heat

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics can't maintain energy vs. Heat

BOSTON – The Miami Heat come into the TD Garden short-handed, and get a win. Earlier this month, the Utah Jazz did the same.

Coincidence?

Not according to Celtics players, who believe their effort was nowhere close to where it needed to be in order to get the win against the Miami Heat.

Marcus Smart recognizes the effort against Miami wasn’t where it needs to be.

But don’t think for a minute that he accepts it.

“Listen, we’re in the NBA,” Smart said. “Every last person on that team is in the NBA; they’re here for a reason. Just because they don’t have all their players, doesn’t mean … we still gotta play and this team has shown us that twice, they beat us twice. If this is not a wake up call for us, then I don’t know what is.”

The Celtics had their moments against the Heat, as they opened with a 6-1 spurt and pushed their lead to double digits in the first.

But the lulls, both offensively and defensively, proved to be too much for the Celtics to overcome as they tried to rally furiously in the final minutes of play.

“We didn’t come with great energy the whole game,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “We started off good and our energy just took a dip. If we want to win at a high level, we have to find a way to keep our energy high.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 90-89 loss to the Miami Heat.

 

STARS

Kelly Olynyk

He becomes the latest ex-Celtic to return to the TD Garden and absolutely have a big-time performance in leading his new team to a victory. The 7-foot Olynyk finished with a career-high 32 points on 12-for-15 shooting, in addition to grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out a couple of assists.

Kyrie Irving

The could-have-been hero if his final shot of the night went down, Irving still had an impressive game offensively. He led all scorers with 33 points while dishing out five assists and grabbing four rebounds.

 

STUDS

Marcus Smart

It was an impressive night shooting the ball for Smart who tallied 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range. But Smart’s energy and hustle never quite resulted in the game-changing play or plays that the Celtics desperately needed.  That said, 15 points and six rebounds is a solid all-around performance.

Josh Richardson

Olynyk may have gotten most of the shine for his career night, but Richardson’s defense and solid scoring was huge for the Heat. He would finish with 19 points and six assists with just one turnover.

Jaylen Brown

He did most of his damage early on, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the first quarter while shooting 6-for-10 for the game. He also grabbed four rebounds along with having a pair of blocked shots.

 

DUDS

Al Horford

Even before he fouled out with more than six minutes to play, Horford was having a bad game for Boston. He would finish with just six points on 2-for-10 shooting. And Horford’s team-worst plus/minus for the game (-13) only amplified the struggles he endured on Wednesday against the Heat.

Dion Waiters

With Goran Dragic (elbow) out, Waiters was in more of a go-to role heading into the game. But at no point did Waiters have the kind of impact that we saw when he dropped 26 points on the Celtics last month. On Wednesday he finished with 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Terry Rozier

So much for building off of the last game. After making headlines with his steal and subsequent game-winning dunk at Indiana on Monday, Rozier didn’t score a single point on Wednesday, missing all five of his shots from the field.

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