Rewinding the Scary Future of the Boston Celtics
On April 2nd the Boston Celtics dismantled the New York Knicks 110–94 for their 50th win of the 2016–17 NBA season. The 16 point massacre at Madison Square Garden signified the first time the Celtics reached the half century mark in the “Wins” column since the 2009–10 season. With just one game remaining in their regular season schedule, the Celtics are 52–29; a record that merits the first seed in the Eastern Conference. With a chance to clinch the first seed tonight, the Celtics proved they are the only legitimate threat against LeBron & Co in the upcoming playoffs. As wicked good as this team is, they have so much more to look forward to. Before we can look forward, we must look back.
Rewind to the 2013-14 NBA season. The Boston Celtics were five years removed from their last championship and their 29–57 record gave little hope that a return to the Promise Land was in the near future. After watching the newly weds in Miami celebrate their first (of two) honeymoons, the Celtics took it upon themselves to stop LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge, decided that the rudiments of dethroning a King is change from within. In a desperate attempt to compete with the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (two key players from their ‘08 and ‘10 championship runs), Jason Terry and D.J. White to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for some role players and their 2014, 2016 and 2018 first round draft picks, along with the rights to swap first round picks in the 2017 NBA draft. The Celtics were slowly changing for the future.
Fast Forward to 2014. Ironically, the 2014 NBA Draft was held in the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets held the sixth overall draft pick. Unfortunately for them, that meant the Boston Celtics possessed the sixth overall draft pick and drafted Point Guard Marcus Smart.
Fast Forward another year. It is 2015 and the Celtics are in need of a starting point guard. Not that Smart can not get the job done; he was just named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. However he is only 22 and, like all young players, needs guidance and maturation more than a starting position. The Celtics sent shooting guard Marcus Thorton and a 2016 draft pick to the Phoenix Suns for point guard Isaiah Thomas.
Fast Forward to April 12th, 2017. The Celtics are pleasantly enjoying the fruits of their labor. Marcus Smart proved to be a stellar player and is scoring 11 points per game and dishing out 4.5 APG- both career highs. The Oklahoma State University alumni is learning a lot from the man he backs up. Speaking of which, Isaiah Thomas is quietly campaigning for the EASTERN CONFERENCE MVP. His 29.2 PPG and 5.9 APG are propelling the Celtics towards a first or second seed.
Just when you though Bostonians could not get any more cheerful, remember that 2013 trade with the Nets. The 20–61 Brooklyn Nets have clinched the worst record in the NBA. So in the upcoming lottery, the Nets (Celtics) will be in the best position to receive the first overall pick in this upcoming draft. Just to clarify everything: the Boston Celtics are in position to be the one seed in the 2017 NBA Playoffs AND have the first pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
In most NBA mock drafts, the Boston Celtics are projected to select Point Guard, Markelle Fultz with the first pick, a prophecy that does not flabbergast anyone. The 6–4 freshman from the University of Washington is widely considered the best player in the draft and for right reason. The 18 year old averaged 23 PPG, 6 RPG and 6 APG to single handedly carry the Washington Huskies. Fultz can congeal an already dominant backcourt that is led by Thomas and Smart.
Of course, there are no guarantees in any NBA draft. The lottery balls may not fall in Boston’s favor and they may lose out on Fultz. Regardless, ending up with a top-ten draft pick will certainly help their value. Look out for Boston to run the tables in the next few years.