The NBA Draft is impossible to predict. NBA teams now spend more money than ever before to hire top of the line scouts to have insight on potential draftees. This process still has fans all over the world scratching their heads at some of the things their team’s front offices have done over the years, and the Boston Celtics are no exception. Even though the Celtics are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, they have their fair share of blunders when it comes to drafting talent early in the NBA Draft.
Over the course of NBA history, the Boston Celtics did not have access to high draft picks. Instead they were collecting Larry O’Brien trophies, but in more recent years there have been plenty of high draft selections. Some garner franchise cornerstones and All-Star players like Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, and other years you draft players that can set back a team for years.
This list is dedicated to those players drafted by the Celtics who did not pan out in the league. It is not about whether or not the Celtics drafted the wrong player in a certain draft, as seen here, but rather a compilation of players that were drafted and brought to Boston who were complete wastes of draft picks.
16 James Young
Let’s start off with the most recent draft bust in Boston history, as it seems like if James Young were to make any impact in the NBA it would of happened by now. He simply isn’t developed enough to see meaningful minutes on the number one seeded Celtics team right now, and has not shown enough in his small playing time to warrant more minutes.
If Young were to make an impact in the league in any capacity, it seems like it will not be as a member of the Celtics. The most revealing stat here is that he is a 6’6 shooting guard who is a career 27.6 percent shooter from three. At least we have Bill Simmons making a fool of himself on life television as he welcomes a wasted first round pick into the NBA.
15 Ollie Johnson
Not to be confused with another Ollie Johnson who carved out a ten year playing career in the NBA in the early '70s, this Johnson was the definition of a bust. The Celtics drafted the college star from San Francisco in 1965, but did not join the roster. He was cut before the season due to the Celtics already having a roster loaded with talent.
The Celtics simply didn't need another person on the roster after winning the previous seven NBA championships before the start of the 1966 season. In order to have Johnson on the roster, they would have needed to waive someone from the previous year. Ollie Johnson may have never seen the court, but he will go down as the only eighth overall pick to never make an NBA roster after being drafted that summer.
14 Clarence Glover
The great Red Auerbach couldn’t have been more out of touch with this draft selection in 1971. He made bold statements about this pick saying that “He reminds me of Tom Sanders, except he is bigger and quicker.” In 1971, Sanders was on his last legs of his NBA career, and Glover looked to be his successor, except Glover had little success for Boston. In his one season in the NBA he touched the floor in 25 games and barely played over 100 minutes.
The following season he was among the 18 players battling for 12 roster spots and was waived due to his unimpressive performance his rookie season. Now he serves as the assistant principal at the school he graduated middle school from in Kentucky.
13 Michael Smith
You know that Key & Peele skit where they sarcastically say that a person named Dan Smith went to BYU? Michael Smith went to BYU, and destroyed everyone in his way in his four year career. When he graduated in 1989, only Danny Ainge scored more points for the Cougars.
He seemed to be a promising young power forward who could easily back up either Kevin Mchale of Larry Bird towards the tail end of their careers and possibly be the future starter for the franchise. That did not happened. Just two seasons after becoming immortal in college, he was out of the league. Smith’s playing days seemed to be over after leaving Boston, but he played internationally for three years before signing with the Clippers. They waived him seven months later, and the BYU star was out of the league.
12 Kedrick Brown
This photo says it all about the Kedrick Brown (far right) experience.
The Celtics really blew the 2001 draft. After drafting Joe Johnson with the tenth pick, they drafted Brown immediately after. Chris Wallace, general manager at the time, decided that one of the rookies had to be moved at the trade deadline and wanted to bring veterans into help their young stars. Phoenix was eyeing Brown, but Wallace insisted that Joe Johnson was the rookie to be included in the deal. This proved to be a costly trade, as Johnson went on to be the only successful player that Boston drafted that year.
Brown was known as a world class athlete, but was not much else. He had the ability to jump over anyone in the paint, but lacked everything else that makes a NBA player stick in the league. Boston front office realized that it was time to trade Brown, after averaging just 2.8 points per game his second season, and traded him in a deal that brought the Ricky Davis to the franchise.
If only they were able to trade him two years earlier.
11 Norm Cook
Many players passed through the University of Kansas, but only few left the impact that Norm Cook did, amassing over 1,000 points for the storied program. That success only lasted in Lawrence though, as his skills did not travel with him to Boston.
After shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from the free throw line while averaging 2.5 points a game, it is easy to see why Cook only saw NBA action in 25 games in Boston. The Celtics came to terms with the fact that he proved to not be the same player he was at Kansas and cut him before the 1978 season. Cook only saw an NBA court in two more games, getting picked up by the Denver Nuggets. After being one of the highest scorers in Jayhawk history, Cook finished with just 67 career points professionally.
10 Eric Montross
Eric Montross could of had one of the greatest nicknames of all time if he panned out to be an average rotational player. Imagine Boston fans going crazy during player announcements as they announce the seven foot Eric “The Montrossity” Montross.
We really missed out on a great nickname. Montross played well his first season, but afterwards it went downhill fast. His career played out like a television show that has an okay first episode that gets you intrigued, but then you start watching the second and third and realize it's a train-wreck.
His career highs in nearly every category were in his rookie season, averaging ten points and seven rebounds. A sharp decline in productivity lead to him receiving a very low amount of minutes across his eighth year playing career, and essentially just turned into a big body on the bench for numerous teams. Montross seemed to be the perfect pick for the Celtics when coming out of North Carolina, but he was just another wasted pick in the top ten on the draft.
9 Ron Mercer
Ron Mercer (left) is the most talented player on this list and by far the most successful, but to the eyes of many his career was still a disappointment. In the eyes of then head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Del Harris saw Mercer play in high school, he said only Oscar Robertson looked better at that stage. This man was supposed to be great, but put up average numbers and ultimately choose Paul Pierce as their stud to build around.
Rick Pitino is also to blame here. Mercer’s playing time was constantly in flux between starting and coming off the bench, but he also never reached anywhere near the potential that people thought he would be coming out of Kentucky. Mercer then went on to disappoint in Denver, Orlando, Chicago, Indiana, and then waived by San Antonio and New Jersey.
Even though he was a bust in the NBA, the NBA Inside Drive 2002 version of Mercer was unguardable in every aspect. One of the weirdest instances of a role player absolutely able to dominate in the virtual world.
8 Fab Melo
Another player from Syracuse that was a bust in the NBA. In college Melo did not scream NBA potential, but that did not stop Boston from taking him late in the first round of the 2012 draft (more on that draft later). At Syracuse he averaged 8 points a game and less than 6 rebounds his final year, but proved to have potential as an elite shot blocker. 88 blocks during his sophomore year was enough to garner a roster spot for the Celtics and it proved to be a mistake. Melo saw the floor only six times in his only season in the NBA, and only garnered 36 minutes of playing time. He battled weight issues in Boston that ultimately lead to him getting cut the following season, and was not able to make another NBA roster despite attempts with the Grizzlies and Mavericks.
In February 2017 it was announced that Melo had unexpectedly passed away in Brazil.
7 The 2006 Draft
What happened in this draft makes no sense, and Celtics fans are probably still bitter about how this night went down. It is well known that Portland traded Randy Foye for future All-Star Brandon Roy, but what is not talked about is how the Blazers got rights to Foye in the first place.
A trade package that included a second round pick, Theo Ratliff, and the centerpiece catch for Boston was Sebastian Telfair was shipped to Boston. They basically drafted Telfair with the seventh overall pick. Telfair was absolutely horrid during his tenure in Portland, and it did not fare any better once he was moved to Boston. The only reason this trade is not considered a complete travesty is because Danny Ainge shipped him off as soon as he could the next season in a trade package that brought Kevin Garnett to the Celtics. This may have been Ainge’s motive from the get-go, but at the time, the 2006 draft left fans with little to desire.
6 Acie Earl
This stat should let you know how Acie Earl’s playing career went in Boston, in his rookie season a forty-year old Robert Parish played over 800 more minutes than him. 800 more minutes than a rookie on a 32 win team. Earl only saw 15 minutes a game as a rookie behind someone in their final season on a team that wasn’t competitive. He showed such little promise as a rookie that management drafted Eric Montross during the next off-season. That season Montross looked to be the future at center, while Acie struggled to see playing time, this time averaging less than seven minutes a game.
The Toronto Raptors tried to see if the Iowa standout had any NBA potential, taking him in the expansion draft, but even on a brand new franchise Earl could not get it done at the next level.
4 Marcus Banks
The 2003 draft class will go down as one of the greatest classes of all time, and the Celtics came away with a bust in Marcus Banks. He was going to be the point guard of the future, for a team that desperately needed someone to move the ball. The 2002-2003 team had two forwards lead their team in assists. Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker both averaged double the amount of assists the team’s starting point guard (Tony Delk) did. Banks was put in a picture perfect situation and did nothing with it. He is by far the strangest player on this list though based on two things you’d never expect from a draft bust. In 2006 he signed a five-year, $21 million dollar contract for the Phoenix Suns, and Allen Iverson said he was the toughest defender he ever faced.
This goes to show how great that draft class really was.
3 Jared Sullinger
Revisiting the 2012 draft for a second as we talk about a player that seemed to be a top ten pick the year prior, but decided to go back to Ohio State for the 2011-12 season. This proved to be a mistake as health and weight concerns rose for Sullinger during the summer of 2012. After being seen as lottery pick the year before, he fell to 21st for the Celtics.
After a disappointing first year in Boston, averaging six points in twenty minutes of playing time, he tried to reinvent himself as a stretch four in order to see the court in any capacity. This did not work out. In his second and third seasons in Boston he took 2.8 and 3.2 three pointers a game, shooting below 29 percent in each of those years.
If Sullinger didn’t have pre-existing health concerns and weight cutting issues he would probably not have been featured here today, but after four seasons and showing no signs of improvement in his game or his weight he was not resigned after his rookie contract.
2 Jerome Moiso
Another draft pick made during the Rick Pitino- Christopher Wallace era that made it seem that they were actively trying to run the Celtics into the ground. The 2000 draft was so bad that Moiso shot up draft boards and was projected to be a late lottery pick. The Celtics decided to see if the athletic big man from UCLA would be a nice fit in their front-court that desperately needed depth. He showed very little in his two years at UCLA, averaging just 12 points a game, and showed even less once he was in the NBA. Moiso played one year in Boston, playing 134 minutes and scoring a total of 35 points while wearing a Celtic uniform.
This pick is inexcusable, and it gets even worse once you see what Chris Wallace had to say about the french big-man, “In a lot of cases, when you are dealing with a prospect with this kind of athleticism, you don't see the basketball skills to match it. That’s not the case with Jerome.”
That was exactly the case, and Moiso quickly found himself out of the league.
1 Joseph Forte
A legendary high school career and an impressive career at UNC made Joseph Forte (left) seemed like a no-brainer pick in the 2001 draft. The Celtics already had their sights set on Tony Parker, and even gave them a hat to wear before the draft, but switched at the last minute. Boston needed a point guard and instead of drafting someone they said they were going to, they decided to make Forte the point guard of the future.
Forte had never played as a floor general though, and his conversion to the mastermind of an NBA offense went as well as you’d think. In his eight games as a rookie, he scored less than eight points. He finished his rookie year with six points, meanwhile Parker has been to six all-star games. The 2001 draft haul by the Celtics may go down as the worst draft day of any team with three first round picks, as neither player was on the roster by 2004.
Forte will more than likely go down as one of the biggest draft day blunders in the history of the most successful team in professional sports, as he was not the right fit for a roster that knew who they should have drafted the whole time.