The Boston Celtics have looked like the team calling “we got next” after the Cleveland Cavaliers — well, really LeBron James — has dominated the Eastern Conference for years.
That looks a lot better after they drew the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery. The Los Angeles Lakers will pick second and the Philadelphia 76ers third (a swap with Sacramento, who moved up from eighth to third, but the Sixers had rights to exchange picks so Philly is third and the Kings will pick fifth).
This is a monster win for the Celtics — they are the No. 1 seed in the East, they are in the Eastern Conference Finals this season, and they have the No. 1 pick.
“It’s a good time to be a Celtics fan,” said Wyc Grousbeck, co-owner of the Celtics, on the ESPN broadcast. “I wish the draft were today and we could get a little help for tomorrow night (Game 1 of the Conference Finals) but this is a great night.”
With Boston landing the No. 1 pick (this is actually the Brooklyn pick, but Boston had the right to swap as part of the Kevin Garnett deal), the next question is will GM Danny Ainge use it to add to the team’s impressive depth, or might he trade this pick in a package for an established star (such as Paul George or Jimmy Butler)? Ainge has been incredibly patient so far trying to land stars (he did get Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas developed before their eyes), does he think his team is one piece away from challenging LeBron James and the Cavaliers now, or does he want to wait for that powerhouse to wilt a little. Also, if the Celtics draft a top point guard such as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, what does that mean for the future of Isaiah Thomas (who is a free agent in the summer of 2018)? Whatever Ainge is thinking, don’t expect him to tip his hand before draft night.
The other big winner was the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers get to keep their pick in this draft (this is the third straight year they’ve had the lottery balls bounce their way and the pick owed Philly has stayed theirs), and that’s a double blessing. They not only get to select No. 2 now — they are reportedly high on Los Angeles are native Lonzo Ball and this makes it highly likely they can land him — they also keep their 2019 first round pick which would have gone to Orlando. (Next year’s Lakers first round pick unconditionally goes to the Sixers, and they owe the Magic two second rounders but not a first). Magic Johnson gets to make a big splash.
The biggest loser was the Orlando Magic. Not only did they slide a spot to sixth, they do not get that 2019 Lakers first rounder.
Here is the draft order (with a break at the end of the lottery.
1. Boston (swap with Brooklyn)
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Philadelphia (swap with Sacramento)
5. Sacramento (swap with Philadelphia)
8. New York
10. Sacramento (via New Orleans)
20. Portland (via Memphis, via Denver and Cleveland)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Brooklyn (via Washington)
23. Toronto (via LA Clippers and Milwaukee)
25. Orlando (via Toronto)
26. Portland (via Cleveland)
27. Brooklyn (swap with Boston)
28. L.A. Lakers (via Houston)
29. San Antonio
30. Utah (via Golden State)