The Boston Celtics have won more championships than any other franchise in NBA history with 17. Their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, have the second most with 16. Most of those championships, at least in the Celtics case, came with strong drafting and Hall of Fame decision makers in Red Auerbach and Tommy Heinsohn, who recently was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach after being enshrined as a player in 1986.
The Celtics have a history of drafting cornerstone players that have helped propel the franchise into the most dominating team in NBA history. This includes drafting the likes of Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, and Jo Jo White.
The Celtics recently have not had much luck when it came to securing an attractive draft position. After the original "Big Three" which consisted of Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and Robert Parish were staples to Celtics fans on Causeway Street, the team selected Maryland's Len Bias with the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. Tragedy struck two days later when Bias was found dead by an apparent overdose of cocaine. This would be the first instance in which the luck of the leprechaun did not matter.
In 1997, the Celtics had the best odds to obtain the first overall pick to score prized Wake Forest power forward Tim Duncan. The Celtics would eventually receive the third overall pick and select Chauncey Billups.
Another example would be in 2007 when the Celtics seemingly tanked their way to try and receive the best odds to acquire either Ohio State center Greg Oden or Texas Longhorn forward Kevin Durant. In typical Celtic fashion, the team was stuck with the fifth overall pick and selected Jeff Green out of Georgetown.
The silver lining in this, as all Celtics fans know, is that it started the emergence of a new "Big Three" in Boston when they traded Green to the Seattle Supersonics for shooting guard Ray Allen. This would later entice Minnesota Timberwolve Kevin Garnett to want to play for Boston and the trade set up by Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale helped them raise yet another Larry O'Brien trophy in late June of the 2007-2008 NBA season. In making this list, it must be noted that in 2009, 2002, and 1999 the Celtics did not have a first round pick, so it is necessary to go back to 1997 and 1998 to complete the list.
16 1997 - Chauncey Billups and Tracy McGrady
If only Rick Pitino allowed Billups to flourish when they selected him with the third overall pick out of Colorado and the Celtics drafted McGrady instead of Ron Mercer with their sixth overall pick, they Celtic would've been a difficult team to defeat in the early 2000s, as that would be one heck of a backcourt. Both Billups and McGrady have chances at the Hall of Fame and were terrific players.
Instead, the Celtics traded Billups after 51 games and Ron Mercer was moved after two seasons, before moving on to several other teams.
15 1998 - Paul Pierce
Do I really need to explain this one? Paul Pierce will go down as one of the greatest Celtics of all-time. They green drafted Pierce with the 10th overall pick out of Kansas. He only trailed John Havlicek in most points scored in a Celtics uniform and is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. The Truth is still the perfect draft pick for the Celtics in this case.
14 2000 - Hedo Turkoglu
Hedo Turkoglu was a crafty player from Turkey who was drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the 16th pick. Turkoglu was also instrumental in the Orlando Magic's run to the Finals in 2008 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead of him, the Celtics drafted Jerome Moiso out of California-Los Angeles with the 11th pick. Moiso only played one season in Boston and his highest scoring output of any season was 205 points in the 2002-03 season with the New Orleans Hornets. It's safe to say that he was a bust and that Turkoglu would've been far more effective.
13 2001 - Joe Johnson and Zach Randolph
The Celtics had two first round selections in the 2001 draft, back to back selections being numbers 10 and 11. They selected Joe Johnson out of Arkansas and Kendrick Brown out of Northwest Florida State. The team made the right move on Johnson, who is a seven time all-star. However, with the second pick, they should've chose Zach Randolph. Randolph was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers out of Michigan State with the 19th overall pick. He's averaged 17.1 points per game during his career, while Kendrick Brown was inconsistent with the Celtics and never really showed fans why he was a first round pick.
12 2003 - David West and Boris Diaw
This year is a little confusing due to the fact that the Celtics traded both of their first round picks (Troy Bell 16th overall and Dahntay Jones 20th overall) to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marcus Banks and Kendrick Perkins. Even though Perkins was a solid player for the Celtics, he did not have the type of impact that a David West or Boris Diaw had, whom went 18th overall to the New Orleans Hornets and 21st overall to the Atlanta Hawks respectively. So, what we're suggesting here, is that they don't make that move and take these two talented big men instead.
11 2004 - Al Jefferson, Kevin Martin and Anderson Varejao
The Celtics had an astounding three first round picks in this draft and only hit on the first one in Al Jefferson at the 15th overall pick. He was solid for Boston over his first three years there and was a huge piece in the trade that saw Boston acquire Kevin Garnett and win a championship, so his pick turned out great.
With their next two picks, the Celtics had back-to-back picks again and drafted the troubled Delonte West with the 24th overall pick and the athletic wingman Tony Allen. Allen offered spectacular dunks at times and was a tremendous defender but had a flawed offensive game, especially when it came to shooting, while Delonte West wasn't worth the trouble he cause. Instead, both Kevin Martin and Anderson Varejao (drafted 26th and 30th overall) are the types of players you could plug into a team that would help you contend for a championship. Martin is a prolific scorer and Varejao offers energy and solid rebounding.
10 2005 - David Lee
David Lee is a two-time all-star and was instrumental in the Golden State Warriors' championship run this past season. The Celtics actually just acquired Lee for Gerald Wallace. He was drafted by the New York Knicks with the last pick (30th overall) in the first round. The Celtics drafted Gerald Green out of high school with the 18th pick. He seemed to be an unpolished player who probably should have played at least a year of college basketball to increase his maturity both physically and mentally. Green has sort of raised his level of play recently but the body of work by Lee is superior.
9 2006 - Rajon Rondo
The Celtics made a plethora of moves on draft night in 2006. They traded Randy Foye out of Villanova, whom they drafted 7th overall pick and traded to the Portland Trail Blazers along with Raef LaFrentz and Dan Dickau for point guard Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff. The Celtics also acquired Rajon Rondo out of Kentucky in a trade with the Phoenix Suns. General Manager Danny Ainge pulled the right trigger on this one. Even though Rondo was a pain in the neck to deal with and was shipped to Dallas this past season, he was the floor general that helped secure the team's 17th championship.
8 2007- Joakim Noah
It is safe to say that pretty much every Celtics fan remembers this draft with how it started the construction of the new Big Three era in Boston. If Danny Ainge didn't pull the trigger on a deal, they should have gone after Joakim Noah out of Florida. Noah is a intimidating defender filled with energy that lights up the crowd and teammates. As mentioned earlier, the Celtics drafted Jeff Green out of Georgetown, whom would eventually play for them in the Kendrick Perkins trade. Green had all the talent in the world but failed to be consistent.
7 2008- DeAndre Jordan
Danny Ainge always talks about how the Celtics need a so-called "rim-protecter" if they want to contend for another title. In steps DeAndre Jordan. Jordan, even though he's been mediocre at offense, is a tenacious rebounder and defender. As the Celtics know all-t00-well, defense wins championships, plain and simple. Jordan was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers with the 35th overall pick out of Texas A&M. Instead, the Celtics selected J.R. Giddens out of New Mexico with the last pick in the first round. Giddens never really received an opportunity with the Celtics as head coach Doc Rivers was notorious for not giving much playing time to rookies.
6 2010- Avery Bradley
The Celtics made the right move here by selecting the guard out of Texas. Avery Bradley was the number one recruit in the country coming out of high school and fell to the Celtics 19th overall pick. He is a tremendous defender and keeps on improving his shooting touch. He could also be considered a border-line all-star this season. On top of that, none of the picks taken after him have become elite, cementing this as a surefire selection for the Celts.
5 2011 - Jimmy Butler
The Celtics worked out a draft day trade with, at the time, the New Jersey Nets that sent MarShon Brooks to New Jersey for JaJuan Johnson out of Purdue. Even though Brooks had a nice rookie season, both he and Johnson never really received enough playing time to carve out a role onto an NBA roster. Instead of the trade, the Celtics should've taken Jimmy Butler, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls out of Marquette with the 30th overall pick. Butler has been a nice compliment to Derrick Rose in Chicago and some believe he has raised his game to a superstar level over the last year.
4 2012 - Jared Sullinger and Draymond Green
For the thid time on this list, the Celtics have had back to back picks. The Celtics batted .500 in this draft by selecting Ohio State's Jared Sullinger. Sullinger, although he's injury prone and lacks conditioning at times, is a solid player. However, they struck out on Syracuse center Fab Melo. Melo hardly saw the court in a Celtics uniform as he was often playing in the D-League. Instead they could've had Draymond Green (selected 35th) who, like David Lee, was an important piece to the Warriors championship run. Green is an active rebounder who can shoot the ball and plays strong defense. He does not back down from anybody on the court.
3 2013 - Giannis Antetokounmpo
I wonder how many tries it takes broadcaster's to pronounce his name right. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an athletic freak who will be appearing in many All-Star games once he develops into his body. The Celtics swapped first round picks with the Dallas Mavericks and selected Kelly Olynyk out of Gonzaga with the 13th overall pick. Olynyk is a decent player but doesn't possess the same upside as Antetokounmpo, who went two picks later to the Milwaukee Bucks.
2 2014 - Marcus Smart
The Celtics drafted Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State with the 6th pick in the draft after losing out in the lottery for the Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker sweepstakes. Smart had a solid rookie season and is a pest on defense. He could very well end up being the third best player in the draft once people look back in a few years, as he already looks more polished that the three players selected ahead of him (Joel Embiid, Aaron Gordon and Dante Exum).
1 2015 - Sam Dekker and RJ Hunter
Considering the fact that none of these guys have stepped onto the court of a meaningful NBA game tells us that it is way too early to say who the Celtics should have drafted. However, I don't agree with the Terry Rozier selection because the Celtics already have a similar player in Marcus Smart and most experts said the Celtics took the Louisville guard too high at number 16. Instead, w'ell have them pick Sam Dekker who went two picks later to the Rockets as he's a forward who will bring some depth to their front court.
RJ Hunter, whom the team drafted 28th overall out of Georgia State, should provide a nice shooting stroke for the team.