The Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick is extremely valuable, as the struggling team has been in the midst of a rebuild for a number of years.
After all, earlier this summer, the Boston Celtics won the NBA Draft lottery with Brooklyn’s 2017 first-rounder as the league-worst Nets had an abysmal 20-62 record. Although they traded down, Boston was able to benefit from the Nets’ struggles.
Boston included the 2018 Brooklyn pick along with Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic in exchange for Kyrie Irving in the blockbuster trade of the offseason. But, as you might imagine, it was difficult for Danny Ainge to get rid of perhaps the best draft asset the Celtics possess in the near future.
Ainge explained his thought process to CSN New England, which provides some clarity on why he made the decision. He makes some very good points:
“I think that signing Al Horford and Gordon Hayward, I feel a responsibility to give them a chance. I think that Brooklyn pick could be very, very exciting. I think Cleveland could have a really good pick there. But it's probably gonna be a big man that's 19 years old, that probably needs a couple years to develop, and could develop into a franchise player,” he said, per Colin Ward-Henninger of CBSSports.com.
Ainge continued, “But Kyrie is a proven, sure thing -- a guy that's 25 and can really, really play right now. I think that's fair for [Celtics coach] Brad [Stevens] and that's fair for Gordon, and Al. Also it'll give a chance for Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown] and all those guys to develop. We have some young guys that we're developing, that are bright parts of the future: Terry Rozier and Marcus as well -- Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris. We have a young team and we feel like we can have them together for a while.”
Since the Celtics’ core of All-Star caliber players (Irving, Hayward and Horford) is supplemented by some high-level young talent (Brown, Tatum) and some valuable young role players (Smart, Rozier), the Celtics might not have started or given significant minutes to the 2018 No. 1 pick if they made the selection. Or, they could have felt obligated to give that draft pick court time, thus limiting the minutes of the aforementioned developing players.
That's a good problem to have, but nonetheless, Ainge thought it could create an issue.
The latter part of Ainge’s explanation is notable because it now seems as though the Celtics have their pieces in place with some stability in mind for a number of years to come.
Although it may take a bit of time to gel as a squad, the Celtics should be a mainstay towards the top of the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future. Ainge is a huge reason why that's the case.