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Expectations vs. reality for the Celtics draft night

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Jimmy Butler and Nerlens Noel turned into Jaylen Brown and draft-n-stash guys.

Chicago Bulls v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. - Hamlet

I had extremely high hopes for last night’s draft, and maybe that’s the problem. Set yourself up with those kinds of expectations, and you are sure to be let down. Toss in a few fanciful trade rumors, and you can see how I might have gotten carried away a bit.

If you had told me ahead of time that Danny Ainge simply loved Jaylen Brown and thinks he’s the best talent in the draft, I’d have been cool with that. I might have formed other opinions based on my own research, but I can see how you can make the case for Brown.

I did know ahead of time that the Celtics had too many picks and needed to use some on draft-and-stash guys and trade some others. That all makes sense.

The problem is that just minutes before the draft started there was a firestorm of trade rumors surrounding the Celtics. It was the Sixers offering up Noel, Covington, and multiple late firsts for the 3rd pick. It was the Celtics in discussions with the Bulls for Jimmy Butler. It was the Celtics in discussions with the Sixers and Bulls! Everything seemed to be coming together. All they had to do was draft Kris Dunn and they would be in the driver’s seat in this draft.

Then they selected Jaylen Brown, and all of that died. The trade speculation shifted to the Wolves, and the Celtics were left out. It wasn’t that I valued Dunn or Bender or any other pick any higher than Brown (in fact the 5-6 names being discussed all month all seemed about equal to me). It was just that Brown is not Jimmy Butler, and he might never be.

It will be very interesting to see if any details of the proposed package for Jimmy Butler come out in the press. Likewise, I'll be very interested to see if he gets traded elsewhere and, if so, what the price ends up being. It is really hard to say we "missed" on Butler if we don't know the price.

We also don't know about the two draft-and-stash guys later in the first round. It might turn out in a few years that these guys are much, much better than the other guys that were available. It might even be a huge benefit that we can bring them over years from now instead of having to find roster spots for stateside guys. But I had to dig deep into Kevin O’Connor’s draft guide to find Yabusele, and even Zizic was ranked a little lower than the guys that were still on the board.

By the time the second round rolled around, I was already disappointed with the draft. But of course, we can’t really judge a draft until a few years have passed and we see how the guys selected pan out. Jimmy Butler wasn’t traded and neither was Nerlens Noel. Those deals can still take place, they just won’t happen to include the Celtics picking Dunn and swapping his rights elsewhere.

There’s still a lot of offseason to come, including free agency just a few days away. We’ll see how the rest of this shakes out. There’s still time for reality to catch up with expectations. Or maybe we’ll just have to wait a little longer for those fireworks.