Some thought (hoped) they'd trade it away, and in a sense they did, but nonetheless, the Celtics ended up with Purdue's JaJuan Johnson as their first round pick (taken by the Nets at No. 27 and traded to the Celtics along with a 2014 2nd round pick for MarShon Brooks).
A senior out of Purdue, Johnson averaged 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and shot 80.9% in 34 games this season. Since his freshman year, those numbers have gradually improved too.
The result? One of the best players to come out of the Big Ten this year.
"Big Ten player of the Year," Doc Rivers said when asked about the pick. "Athletic. Can shoot. I like it a lot. We didn't think he would be there and he was."
Johnson was a First-Team All-American as a senior and became the third player in conference history to win Big Ten Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. But it doesn't end there. Johnson is a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection (2009, 2011) and a three-time member of the Big Ten All-Defensive Team (2009, 2010, 2011).
But don't think of Johnson as one of those "me first" type of guys just trying to pad his stats. He, along with fellow Celtics draft pick and teammate E'Twaun Moore (more on him later), had much success during their four-year stint at Purdue.
In fact, the two players hold the record for most wins in school history (107) and total games (140). Winning games like that is important to Rivers.
"It tells you that he can play with the team and fit in and be a winner on that team and still play well," he said.
Johnson did enough over the course of the past two seasons at Purdue and during his workout for the Celtics to catch Danny Ainge's eye.
"Just his versatility." Ainge said of what drew Johnson to him. "I think he's a both ends of the court player. He can shoot, he can rebound, block shots, he's got some good energy, and good length. I think he fits a lot of parts that we need."
But just the day before, the same Ainge essentially downplayed any player they were to draft, saying he wouldn't be much of a factor next season. But perhaps Ainge and Rivers didn't expect Johnson would be an option.
"Well you don't know. He may be [able to contribute]," Rivers said. "We don't know. Yesterday we didn't think he would be there honestly, but he slipped to us, who knows why, but he did. I think you have to put him on the floor. I can't tell you if he's going to help out or not. I think he'll be an NBA player and a good one. It may take him some time or it may not.
"He has length and he's a shot blocker. So in that way it will be great. Now I don't know how quick his feet are yet because I haven't had him showing a lot of pick and rolls, hopefully by Tuesday I'll know that answer."
Rivers described Johnson as a pick and pop player with a terrific shot and a lot of athleticism. The fact that Johnson is a four-year player didn't scare them away, because they still think he has upside.
Rivers sees Johnson as a power forward and thinks that he can learn a lot from Kevin Garnett, a future first ballot Hall of Famer.
"They're very similar," Rivers said. "He's not Kevin Garnett, alright. Don't write it anybody. But they are. Same body type. At the same time in their lives, [Garnett's] probably a better shooter. Then Kevin became a great shooter. So there's a lot of upside things with him."
More on Moore
The Celtics may have picked up a slew of new fans in West Lafayette, Indiana by not only drafting JaJuan Johnson but E'Twaun Moore as well.
As already noted, Johnson and Moore were teammates for four seasons at Purdue, setting records along the way. Now, the two will become teammates in Boston.
Ainge grabbed Moore, 6-foot-4, 191-pounds, with the 55th pick in the draft, and it may turn out to be a steal. Moore averaged 18.0 points per game and shot over 40-percent from three-point range over his senior season. He was projected to go sooner in the draft.
"We're very fortunate," Ainge said. "We got two really good productive college players. Mature kids. Great character and attitude. And we got some shooting, got some length, and I think they're a good fit for us."
Ainge noted that he didn't purposely draft two Boilermakers, and admitted that he at first did not even notice the connection. He simply chose the two because they were, in his opinion, the best players on the board at that time.
"E'Twaun is a good shooter," Ainge said. "A good all-around player. Tough kid. Good experience. Had a big game this year. I saw the game he was playing and had 38 against Ohio State. Terrific talent."
He expects both Johnson and Moore competing for spots in the rotation next season.