Different methods, same goal
By Peter Santo
12 possible first round picks. 15 possible second round picks. The Celtics are very clearly doing their best to build for the future. Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has realized that the talent level of his team simply does not stack up with the perennial championship contenders in the Western Conference.
Ever since winning the championship in 2008 the team has been preparing for some fans’ worst nightmare, rebuilding, otherwise known among fans as tanking. However the benefits of tanking are consistently questioned throughout the league because the team that finishes with the worst record is not guaranteed to have the first overall pick.
Actually, quite the opposite, the team that loses the most games only has a 25% chance of winning the “lottery”, and getting the coveted first overall pick. The Celtics strategy is a combination of trying to choose the best overall prospect along with gathering and storing a plethora of picks.
These picks are not necessarily used just for drafting players, they can also be traded to boost the roster instantly and trade for a star. It puts stress on everybody in an organization, from the players, to the coach, to the owner.
Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft by the 76ers, asserts that no player likes to lose one game, never mind 26 games in a row. No NBA player wants to play for a team that loses 26 games in a row.
“Losing sucks. I don’t care how much money you make or what stats you put up. If you’re competitive enough to make it to the NBA, losing is absolutely brutal,” said Carter Williams.
The 76ers have had four first round draft picks in the past two years. They used those picks to draft MCW and Nerlens Noel in 2013, who didn’t play for his entire first season because of a torn ACL.
This past year they selected Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, however neither player has made an appearance all season, and they won’t anytime soon. Saric is playing in Europe for the foreseeable future and Embiid is nursing an injury of his own.
The 76ers made these picks fully aware that the players would not have an immediate impact on the team. This strategy is all a part of building for the future. When the GM and owner agree to stockpile draft picks and lose games in an effort to build for the future, they know their fans will not be happy.
Although it can be difficult, true fans must believe in their team and trust what team executive are doing. As the Celtics undergo their rebuilding project some fans have different opinions as to the best method of rebuilding.
Some believe that the best way to build a team is through free agency, which involves the delicate balance of clearing enough cap space to sign free agents while also remaining competitive in the present. These fans see how teams like the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks have built contending teams through free agency and hope the Celtics can replicate their success.
On the other hand, some believe that the best way to build a championship contender is exactly what the celtics are doing. The players currently on the roster gain valuable NBA experience and hopefully begin to develop into important pieces of a contending team. Trading away players who are old or who won’t be part of the future and gaining assets from that can be very valuable.
When it’s all set and done, no matter which strategy you choose, the end goal remains the same, championships.
Tim Rey also contributed to this report