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Level setting expectations for the 16th pick in the NBA Draft - Boston Celtics

What can you get with the 16th pick of the draft? Probably a role player. Maybe more, maybe less.


Danny Ainge has a pretty good track record of drafting - especially later in the first round. I'm stating that as a fact even though it is really more of a statement of opinion. Still, I feel like he's got a pretty good track record.

Consider this tweet from Sean Grande:

Of course you can't just cherry pick the good picks, so our friend Dan Duggan had this retort of sorts.

Trained at getting in the last word (hey, he does work with Max), Sean replied with this.

Point Grande. Sure, you have to take the good with the bad, but when the good outweighs the bad in something so random as the NBA draft, you take those results to the bank.

Take a look at this website for some perspective of what you can get from various draft positions. Now go back and review Ainge's picks here. Tell me there aren't more winners there (based on draft position) than losers.

Yes, of course I would have rather drafted DeAndre Jordan (or any number of 2nd rounders from that year) over Giddens. Sure, in hindsight Jimmy Butler has turned out a lot better than JaJuan Johnson. Yeah, Gerald Green was more of a sideshow dunker than an impact player.

Still, getting Rondo and Sullinger at 21 helps the old batting average. Getting West, Tony Allen, and Perkins in the high 20's doesn't hurt. Nabbing Baby, Gomes, and Powe in the 2nd round is just icing on the cupcake that Gerald Green blew the candle out on.

So what about the 16th pick? What can we expect from a pick just outside the lottery? I'm glad you asked.

First of all, Ainge did find Al Jefferson with the 15th pick of the draft. Way back in 2003 (Danny's first draft) we also had the 16th pick plus the 20th. Those we swapped for 13 and 27 and grabbed Marcus Banks (miss) and Kendrick Perkins (hit).

But enough about the Celtics history lesson. You likely knew all that. What kind of talent is there at 16 specifically?

Well, that first link I shared above breaks down the last 20 drafts and what categories the picks fall into. It turns out that the 16th pick has a fairly nice little bell curve of results (skewed slightly to the bad side).

  • 5% were stars
  • 25% were solid
  • 30% were role players
  • 25% were deep bench players
  • 15% were busts

Putting names with numbers, Ron Artest was probably the "star." I'd say Nikola Vucevic looks pretty "solid" these days. Nick Young is a hired gun and Hedo Turkoglu got himself a big contract at one point. Royce White? Well, let's just put him in another category by himself.

So if you are looking for a star at 16, don't hold your breath. Busts don't seem all that common, so we'll probably get something in that fuzzy middle ground of "solid" to "deep bench."

On one hand, this is considered to be a fairly weak draft and even Ainge has said that there aren't many difference makers in it. On the other hand, there's going to be a lot of movement up and down draft boards and confusion on who should go where. Which creates opportunities for good drafters like Ainge to sniff out a find or catch a falling prospect (like he did with Sullinger).

Tomorrow the NBA Draft Lottery will determine the order of the picks in front of us. But that doesn't mean that we won't find a lottery type talent slip through to 16. He probably won't be another Rondo, but I guess you never know.

Bonus Link: A look back at the Celtics draft history by position in the first round (from 2012).

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