Despite Lottery Outcome, C’s See Depth in Draft

Tommy Heinsohn

Tommy Heinsohn represented the Celtics at Tuesday's Draft Lottery in Secaucus, NJ, just minutes from his hometown.
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty

WALTHAM - After over a month of anticipation, the ping-pong balls finally dropped in Secaucus Tuesday night.

And while they didn't do the Celtics any favors as the team ended up with the fifth pick overall, Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is taking solace in the fact that the 2007 NBA Draft may be the deepest in recent memory.

"We've been saying all along that we think this is a good draft, and it's more than a two-player draft," Ainge said just moments after the results were revealed on ESPN. "I still believe that we're going to get a player who has a chance to be an All-Star caliber player."

The Portland Trailblazers were the big winners Tuesday, taking home the first pick with just a 5.3% chance of winning coming into tonight's drawing. The Seattle Supersonics (#2) and Atlanta Hawks (#3) also moved up into the Top 3, dropping the Memphis Grizzlies and Celtics down to four and five respectively.

Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, who flew in Tuesday afternoon to watch the proceedings with Ainge and the front office, said he was disappointed to see the Celtics' envelope come out at #5, but echoed Ainge's sentiments about the quality available in the draft. He added that his players wouldn't be too concerned about the C's misfortune in the lottery.

"They still know we are going to add a very good player to our basketball team, and that we're going to improve," Rivers said.

As for whom the Celtics may take at #5, Ainge wasn't ready to elaborate, but he's been clear since the season ended that he sees great depth in the draft field this year, and he also admitted that he would explore trading the pick. Either way, he'll be a busy man between now and the June 28 NBA Draft as the team narrows down the field of potential picks.

"These guys who are going to be available for us at #5 are going to be good, and this is the highest pick that we've had for a very long time," Ainge said. "There's other ways to get lucky. Nobody thought Paul Pierce was going to be the player he turned out to be when he was selected at #10, and nobody thought Al Jefferson was going to be as good as he's become when we got him at #15 a few years ago."

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