NEW YORK — Unless the Celtics were going to acquire Kevin Love, which wasn’t going to happen when they ping-ponged to the sixth pick in the lottery, team president Danny Ainge astutely used the sixth and 17th picks on young talent.
The Celtics officially have transitioned from the Big Three Era, nabbing Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Kentucky’s James Young, the results of their horrid 25-57 season. Boston snagged Young with one of the selections fleeced from the Brooklyn Nets in the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett blockbuster.
And the Smart and Young combination is the best settlement the Celtics could have procured.
Thursday’s NBA Draft became an unpredictable sweepstakes the moment the Philadelphia 76ers selected injured center Joel Embiid with the third overall pick, making it two straight years general manager Sam Hinkie selected an injured player (Everett native Nerlens Noel) with the team’s top pick.
Embiid’s selection foiled any chance of the Kansas 7-footer falling to the Celtics, but it allowed Ainge to focus on the Celtics’ long-term future. That plan was further adjusted when Arizona forward Aaron Gordon surprisingly went fourth to the Orlando Magic.
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