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Celtics have assets, but what are they worth?

Like most hoarders, the Celtics believe what they’re collecting has great value. But most of the time hoarders are just piling up pyrite and false dreams.

We’re about to find out just how much the rest of the NBA values the Celtics’ plethora of draft picks because the Green, owners of the 16th and 28th picks in the first-round and picks No. 33 and 45 in the second round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, hope to be movin’ on up. The Celtics ability to do so is linked to the relative worth of their war chest of picks.

Let’s hope that Danny the Dealer can swindle some front-office mark into a mistake because non-lottery draft picks in the NBA are inflated and overrated. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said it himself in his predraft press conference. He is looking for quality over quantity in the NBA’s annual collision of hype and hope. So is the rest of the league.

Unless the Celtics are willing to part with those coveted Brooklyn Nets picks in 2016, 2017 (Boston has the right swap positions), and 2018, they’re peddling the equivalent of the gadgets you buy off late-night TV.


Boston has 21 potential draft picks between now and 2018, including 10 potential first-rounders. But the NBA Draft is not the NFL Draft. In the NFL, any first-round pick is coveted. In the NBA, the players who can change the fortunes of a franchise tend to be in the top 10. A shot at one of those players is worth more than five middling first-round picks.

Last year Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck fired up the fan base with the idea of personnel fireworks, in part because the Celtics had the sixth and 17th pick in the draft. But nobody would bite on the Celtics draft picks or roster pieces and the fireworks fizzled.


This year, the Celtics don’t even have a lottery pick to offer as trade bait, and they’ve devalued their own future picks with an improbable playoff berth last season.

With the brilliance of Celtics coach Brad Stevens, no trade partner can count on any of Boston’s own picks being lottery ones.

Ainge said he was “hopeful” of moving up, but he also was realistic about how far he can go with his assets.

“I think you have to really identify what you’re capable of doing with your assets and what you’re willing to do,” said Ainge. “That’s what we’re going through. It’s a complex process that we’re all trying to figure out.”

It got more complex when his team ended their excruciating post-New Big Three playoff drought of one season.

When the Celtics surged into the playoffs as an unlikely seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, many heralded it as a step forward in their rebuild. But being a borderline playoff team with a losing record (40-42) was more like a stumbling block on the way back to the top.

Some Parishioners of the Parquet asked what the difference was between having the 12th pick or the 16th one. We’re about to find out.

It could be the difference between walking away with a rim protector like Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein or getting some desperately needed outside shooting in Kentucky guard Devin Booker or settling.

Watching the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who steamrolled the Celtics in a first-round sweep, and the champion Golden State Warriors, who had three homegrown lottery picks in their starting lineup, including league MVP Stephen Curry, it’s obvious the Celtics are light-years — or perhaps, Kevin Love-years — away from contention.


The Celtics are still searching for their franchise cornerstone, the player they think can help hang a banner and that they can hang their hopes on.

The best path to that player is free agency or a trade. Ainge is trying to pry object of desire DeMarcus Cousins from the dysfunctional Sacramento Kings, like he has been for years. Getting free agents Love or LaMarcus Aldridge to take the Celtics green and join the Green would be blissful.

Everyone wants Ainge to duplicate the Kevin Garnett trade. But that deal was made possible by having the fifth pick in the 2007 draft to swap for Ray Allen to coax KG to agree to a trade and having a desirable young trade chip in Al Jefferson to deal for him.

No young player on the Celtics roster, including the promising Marcus Smart, currently has that type of value.

Smart played 90 minutes in the playoff series against the Cavaliers and recorded a team-worst plus/minus of minus-51. He played tenacious defense as a rookie, but shot just 36.7 percent.

The other issue for the Celtics with all their draft picks, especially the second-rounders, is that the longer they hold on to them they become depreciating assets because the NBA has a 15-man roster limit.


The Celtics couldn’t use all of the future draft picks they’ve collected if they tried. Ainge said he would prefer not to select four players this year.

Having as many as five second-round picks next year sounds good, but if the right deals don’t come along a team has to essentially give them away or only draft players it can stash overseas.

“Yeah, you have to consider that. You can’t have four rookies on your team every year,” said Austin Ainge, Celtics director of player personnel and Son of Danny. “There are only 15 roster spots. There is some management there. There is some thought that goes into that, whether that’s now or in the future, who knows. There are a million ways to handle that, but we definitely have to consider that.”

Rest assured, Danny the Dealer will leave no stone unturned in his quest to restore the glory to the Garden.

But his hand isn’t as strong as the full house of draft picks he possesses would lead one to believe.

A second look

Danny Ainge has stockpiled as many as 22 selections over the next four drafts, with 12 to be used in the second round. Since the NBA switched to a two-round draft format in 1989, the Celtics have had little luck while mining for talent. But there have been a many quality second-round picks in that time throughout the league, including 14 players who developed into All-Stars.​

28Sherman Douglas (1989)
29Toni Kukoc (1990)
30 Gilbert Arenas (2001)**
Anderson Varejao (2004)
32Gabe Pruitt (2007)Rashard Lewis (1998)**
33Junior Burrough (1995)
34 Carlos Boozer (2002)**
35Glen Davis* (2007)DeAndre Jordan (2008)
36Andrei Fetisov* (1994)Clifford Robinson (1989)**
37 Nick Van Exel (1993)**
Mehmet Okur (2001)**
38Steve Hamer (1996)Chandler Parsons (2011)
40Dino Radja (1989)Monta Ellis (2005)
Justin Reed (2004)Lance Stephenson (2010)
41 Popeye Jones (1992)
Cuttino Mobley (1998)
42 Stephen Jackson (1997)
43 Michael Redd (2000)**
45 Antonio Davis (1990)**
Goran Dragic (2008)
47Darren Morningstar (1992)Mo Williams (2003)**
Josip Sesar* (2000)Paul Millsap (2006)**
Bill Walker* (2008)
48 Cedric Ceballos (1990)**
Marc Gasol (2007)**
49Leon Powe* (2006)
50Darius Songaila (2002)
Ryan Gomes (2005)
51Kris Joseph (2012)Kyle Korver (2003)**
52Luke Harangody (2010)
53Orien Green (2005)
Colton Iverson* (2013)
55Ben Pepper (1997)Luis Scola (2002)
Kris Clack (1999)
E’Twaun Moore (2011)
56Brandon Hunter (2003)
57 Manu Ginobili (1999)**
Marcin Gortat (2005)
58Lester Hudson (2009)
60Semih Erden (2008)Isaiah Thomas (2011)
*Rights acquired in draft trade

Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.