Boston Celtics: Top 10 “Could Have Been’s” Since 1996

Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; General view of the stage before the start of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; General view of the stage before the start of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the NBA Draft merely a few months away, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the top 10 players that could have been Boston Celtics since 1996. 

Boston Celtics
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the last 20 years the Boston Celtics have missed more than they’ve hit on draft day. Outside of Paul Pierce, the Celtics along with some other teams of course, have let several future Hall of Fame players slip by them in the draft. Or, they’ve traded them away before even giving them a chance.

To be fair, the Celtics aren’t the only teams to have passed on some of these players. I’m sure you could find a “top 10 could have been” list for just about any team in any sport, but I haven’t seen one for the Celtics personally so I decided to make one myself.

I put the list together by looking back on every NBA Draft since 1990. After doing so, I found that the top 10 players in the list were all drafted between 1996 and 2011. The players on the list were all selected after the Celtics made their selection in that given round, and I narrowed down the list based on statistics, and accolades such as All Star Games and awards.

While I will cover the Celtics draft day misses since 1996, we must also remember some of the success the team has had.

  • Paul Pierce – In 1998 the Celtics drafted Paul Pierce out of Kansas with the 10th pick in the draft. You could make the argument that Pierce is the best player to come out of the 98′ class. It all depends on how you stack him up with the likes of Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter. In my opinion, Pierce and Vinsanity aren’t even on the same level, it’s The Truth by a long shot. But Pierce and Dirk on the other hand…there’s an argument to be had there. But regardless, they’re both Hall of Famers and drafting Pierce was one of the best decisions the organization has made in its’ history.
  • 2004 Draft – The Celtics had three first round picks in the 2004 NBA Draft and with those selected Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Tony Allen. West ended up being the lesser of the three, but both Big Al and Tony Allen have had solid NBA careers. In Al Jefferson’s final season as a member of the Celtics he averaged 16 points per game to go along with 11 rebounds, and he ended up being the cornerstone of the deal that landed the Celtics Kevin Garnett. Tony Allen has made a career of being one of the premiere defenders in the league, something that was crucial for the Celtics during their championship runs.
  • 2007 NBA Draft – This draft was crucial for the Celtics as it established the team that would eventually win the NBA Championship in 08′. The Celtics had the 5th pick in the draft which ended up being Jeff Green. That pick was then traded to the Seattle Supersonics for Ray Allen. The Celtics were hoping for a high lottery pick in the 07′ draft after finishing the season with the second worst record in the NBA, and it was apparent that Danny Ainge had his sights set on drafting Kevin Durant. You can only imagine what the landscape would like had the Celtics been able to select Durant, but Danny Ainge made the best of the situation and built a team that brought a championship back to Boston for the first time since 1986.

That being said, it’s time to go ahead and take a look at the “could have been” scenarios for the Celtics over the last 20 years. A list that, at the very least will have you questioning how many championship runs the Celtics would have been able to make over the years.

Next: 6th Man of The Decade