Analyzing Ainge by Aaron Jackson


For Celtics GM Danny Ainge, the 2016 Draft could be the most important of his career.

I’ll say it right up front…this post may prove to be completely futile. There’s a chance the Celtics trade the Nets pick and possibly much more to acquire a proven star, in which case Danny Ainge’s draft record is significantly less important. However, as things stand today, the day of the NBA draft lottery, the future of this franchise rests on what they’re able to do with the 8 picks they have. So to me it makes sense to go back through the archives and see just how Ainge has done on draft day.

2003 – Marcus Banks (13) & Kendrick Perkins (27)

Banks was a waste of space wherever he went in the league. As far as 13th overall picks go he’s up there as a pretty bad one. Perkins on the other hand helped the C’s win a title, and for a couple of years was a defensive force. Not too shabby at 27.

Al and Perk

Perkins (2003) and Jefferson (2004) are two of the best first round selections of the Ainge era in Boston. Perk won a title in Boston and in a round about way, Big Al contributed almost as much to the 2008 championship.

2004 – Al Jefferson (15), Delonte West (24) & Tony Allen (25)

Jefferson proved to be a great pick, a star caliber player that played his prime elsewhere. But he also served a big role in their championship, even if only because he was trade bait. Allen for a long time served as one of the best defensive guards in the league, and West, while likely now known more for his off court antics than on, was a serviceable guard for a number of years.

2005 – Gerald Green (18)

If we’re talking dunk contests this pick is a great one. Unfortunately, it takes more than that to be a productive player. At this point Green is what he is; A player who can drop 30 one night, then not even be noticed on the court for another week. I wouldn’t call this pick a miss, but could’ve been better.

2008 – JR Giddens (30)

You may notice a gap here. Picks in that period of time were traded to acquire Ray Allen and, later, Sebastian Telfair. That brings us to this pick. You may not remember the name JR Giddens, and I don’t blame you. He was in the league 4 years, and logged few minutes. What really hurts is guys like DeAndre Jordan and Goran Dragic were taken later in the draft. This one hurts a little bit.

Bradley has proven to be a very good first round pick, while Luke Harangody’s name was fun to say.

2010 – Avery Bradley (19)

But this one does not. Getting a player of Bradley’s abilities is a huge win at 19. Good three point shooter and terrific defender. This was a great pick. Fans caught a glimpse of what the Celtics would look like without Bradley after his playoff injury, and it wasn’t pretty.

2011 – JaJuan Johnson (27)

You hope to get a productive role player in a spot like this. Johnson was definitely not that. He played in the NBA his rookie season, looked very average, and was never heard from again in the league.

2012 – Jared Sullinger (21), Fab Melo (22)

Sullinger has proven at times to be a productive player, and at times a malcontent that doesn’t look like he belongs on the court. That’s at least more than you can say for Fab Melo, whose claim to fame is getting a concussion by walking into a door frame while playing for the Maine Red Claws.

2013 – Kelly Olynyk (13)

Olynyk is another productive role player that is not capable of being a superstar. In other words about what you’d expect for a mid round pick.

2014 –  Marcus Smart (6) & James Young (17)

Smart has shown flashes, but has a ways to go before he can be considered a good value at 6. His defensive ability and hustle are never questioned, but his offense is a major work in progress. That’s more than you can say for James Young, who has yet to make any sort of major impact on the team, and there’s talk he will be cut this offseason.

2015 – Terry Rozier (16) & RJ Hunter (28)

Really too early to tell how productive this duo can be, though both showed signs at times in the playoffs against the Hawks when called upon. That said, neither really were able to consistently break into the Boston rotation this past season. Tough to tell if either will be a part of the long term plan.

So what does all of this tell us? Danny Ainge has had some mixed success when it comes to identifying talent, though that’s about par for the course considering where he’s drafting. What I take away more than anything else is when he’s had a high pick in the draft he’s much more likely to trade it for established NBA talent than actually take the pick, a trend I think is likely to continue.

In Ainge we trust.


Aaron Headshot NewAaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host weekdays on The Drive, 4pm-6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket. Follow The Drive on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine. Stream The Drive live at