I know I don't have multiple personality disorder; but I just might when it comes to the 2013 Boston Celtics. I just don't know how I want this year to go for the C's. Do I want them to play terribly and get a top draft pick? Or do I want them to play well and make the playoffs? There are entities in my brain tugging from each and every way.
Many Celtics fans could be struggling the same way in regards to this season, so perhaps you can relate to this conversation with myself. Hopefully it will clear some thoughts up for all of "us."
Winning is the only thing.
I'm right, winning is the most satisfying thing in sports. How can I not root for this young Celtics team to make the playoffs? Sometimes a losing season can imprint a negative identity onto a team for subsequent seasons, and that's not something I want to see potentially happen.
A competitive season would help young players like Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, and Phil Pressey develop their skills in real, meaningful games against veteran teams. It would also be encouraging to see these pieces come together quickly under the guidance of first-year head coach Brad Stevens.
Certainly, the Celtics will end up with a mediocre draft pick if they make a push for the playoffs. But here's the thing: There are no guarantees in the NBA Draft. Right now players projected as second round picks could jump into the mid-first round; and top-ten players could drop drastically. Who knows? The draft is a crapshoot; so rooting for a losing season just for a high draft pick wouldn't make much sense.
This draft class is special though.
But the 2014 draft is unbelievably stacked in the top-ten. If the Celtics ended up with the number one pick, they would have their choice from a plethora of talent. Right now the golden prize seems to be Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins, but there are plenty of other potential studs in the top six or seven.
Forwards Jabari Parker and Julius Randle could be stars; and guards Marcus Smart, Dante Exum, and Wayne Selden could also become impact players. There is still talent in the middle of the draft, but to miss out on this pool of talent at the top would be disappointing.
And besides, how is it reasonable at all to assume that a negative losing culture could be inscribed onto this organization? How can I not trust Brad Stevens to promote a winning culture in Boston? He turned Butler around with very little talent and left them in wonderful shape going forward.
Even if the Celtics lost 70 games this year, it wouldn't mean anything for the 2014 season. Stevens will keep this team competitive and they will learn a lot, even if they lose games in the progress.
But what about the 2007 draft?
The 2007 draft was supposed to be stacked, too. Greg Oden was projected to be the next Bill Russell and we all know how that worked out. Yes, Kevin Durant, Al Horford, and Joakim Noah all turned into great NBA players, but banking on success from the draft is a great risk.
Excuse me, I know getting interrupted is my greatest pet peeve, but this is where I put myself into checkmate. Sure, Oden was a bust, as were players like Yi Jianlian and Brandan Wright, but there are bad players taken in every draft.
The important thing to remember is that traditionally the rate of a successful draft pick is more likely to occur inside the top ten. After that, yes, it is a crapshoot, which is why it's vital that the Celtics assure themselves a top draft pick in order to maximize their chances of a drafting a star player. Almost every superstar in the league was a high draft pick, and the Celtics can't miss out on the chance at getting one of them.
Just think about it like this: Losing this season presents the Celtics with the best opportunity to win in the future. It doesn't even have to do entirely with the draft. If the Celtics drop a lot of games, Danny Ainge will be free to move any player via trade. Guys like Gerald Wallace, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries could be moved for assets that can help in the future, or to open up money for free agency.
In the grand scheme of things, I believe that to be the truth. When I step back and take a look at the big picture, one bad season gives the Boston Celtics the best chance at having long-term success. There are so many variables that could change throughout the year, but there is no denying that a higher draft pick increases their chances of acquiring a star player.
I will never root for the Celtics to lose games, but I will not be disappointed to see them end up with less than 25 wins. No matter their record this year, I think Brad Stevens will help develop the young players. The future is already very bright for this organization, but having a potential stud on the roster would make the upcoming seasons even more thrilling.