Thursday, June 26, 2008

It’s Draft Day (And No One’s Celebrating) AKA Boston Needs An Image Makeover (Re-Up From 2007)

Today is June 28th, the day of the NBA Draft. In the Pacific Northwest, basketball fans are giddy because tonight they will receive a gift from the basketball gods. In Atlanta folk already got money earmarked for the brand new jerseys featuring the name of the new draft pick they’ll pick up tonight. In Memphis, they’re just gonna sit back and take whatever player falls into their laps at #4...but there is no joy in Boston, Mighty Casey has struck out (with a white girl).

Not only have we (the few, the proud) Boston Celtics fans have been in agony ever since the Draft Lottery (and we had just gotten over not getting Allen Iverson in a draft day trade last year!), but now hearing all over Fox Sports and ESPN that most of the proposed trades that would land us a superstar were shot down because Jermaine O’ Neal, Shawn Marion and Kevin Garnett didn’t want to play in Boston was a devastating blow. Whether it’s because of the same old reasons that people tend to think that Boston’s a racist town (not that shit again!) or just because of their recent past track record with players and their treatment (Antoine Walker’s entire career, fans asking for Paul Pierce’s head after the 2005 season ended, Ricky Davis being traded after not even 2 full seasons, etc.) or even their current state of disarray and ineptitude it all boils down to the same thing: the Celtics are not going to be significantly better after tonight is over unless a miracle happens.

If the Celtics can’t land another superstar to help Paul Pierce, the word around the campfire is that he wants to break North (or West). I honestly don’t blame him, if I were him I’d have little to no faith in Danny Ainge’s ability to provide some real help. The last time the Celtics were even competitive was the 2005 season when they won the Atlantic Division title...and that was because they had Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker and Ricky Davis as the big three (and Raef LaFrentz playing center...pure genius). Right after that season they let Toine bounce and traded Ricky Davis the next season...they’ve been mired in mediocrity ever since.

If you go back five years to the Summer of 2002 and track what’s happens to the Celtics since they appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals and how the management has hamstrung this team and every turn, you wouldn’t want to come here and play, either. Listening to WEEI Sports Radio sometimes makes me want to take public transportation over to the station so I can personally fly some heads most of the time. The print media can be just as if not more critical, and don’t get me started on the fans themselves! With all that being said, Boston/New England sports fans are some of the most die hard, supportive, and knowledgeable sports fans in the country...they know when you’re not making the effort and they don’t stand for management failing to produce a winning team here.

Tonight, the Boston Celtics who can’t seem to acquire marquee help through a pre draft trade and can’t get anyone to take the 5th pick from them for any assets they want (as least at the time I’m writing/posting this) look like they be forced to make a pick. The leading 2007 NBA Draft candidates to be picked by the Boston Celtics at #5 are:

Yi Jianlian 7’0 245 PF/SF China

Corey Brewer 6’8 190 PG/SG/SF Florida

Jeff Green 6’9 230 SF Georgetown

Joakim Noah 6’11 230 SF/PF Florida

I’m not extremely excited about any of these cats (even though they're all excellent players) due to the fact that I’ve already spent the past three seasons watching draft picks “develop” and I’m not really looking forward to doing it again. Joakim Noah has moved up the Celtics draft board in recent weeks and the Celtics are also looking to trade down and take Al Thorton of Florida State.

Yi Jianlian seems to be the leading draft candidate and he is a complete unknown. I saw Al Jefferson play in high school and ABCD Camp and I saw Kedrick Perkins play in the same camps and summer leagues against top competition. I’ve only seen Yi face real comp twice, and they were kids (?), too. On top of that, how old is Yi really? I’ve been hearing about him since 2003, which would have made him anywhere between 15 and 19. Danny Ainge has been to see him play in China several times and raves about his talent (keep in mind this is the same man who traded for Raef LaFrentz, Dan Dickau and Theo Ratliff, signed Brian Scalabrine as a free agent and wanted to draft Robert Swift)...that doesn’t put my mind at ease AT ALL.

The NBA Draft is already a big ass crap shoot and in recent years while we’ve been lucky to draft a bunch of attractive assets and trade bait that contribute to our team we are far from getting anther franchise player that can help this team become relevant again. After tonight's draft we have to wait again to be in a situation where we can land that potential franchise superstar. Who knows? Yi Jianlian might become that player (though I highly doubt it). We’ll all see how it all pans out tonight and all Summer long.


*Edit: What a difference a year makes!

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