Celtics List - Top 10 Draft Choices

With the NBA Draft rapidly approaching Celtics.com thought it would be a good time to take a look at the Top 10 Draft Choices in Celtics history. With mock drafts littering the web and draft experts coming out of the woodwork earlier and earlier every season, we wanted to take a look at the gems that the Celtics have plucked from the NBA Draft over the years.

When making a list like this there are many things to take into consideration. Was the player an All-Star, how many championships did he win, or was he not necessarily an All-Star, but a player selected late that became a key component to the franchise? We looked at who was selected before the player in their draft and where they were selected. Those were just some of the criteria. If you disagree with our list, drop us a line and tell us what you think, but you better do your research first so check out the Celtics all-time draft history. Here's some of what you've had to say about the list.

10. Cedric Maxwell, 1977 (12th)

Cedric Maxwell played eight seasons for the Boston Celtics, winning championships in 1981 and 1984. In his eight years with the club he averaged 13.7 points per game, including leading the team with 19.0 points per game in 1978-79. Maxwell should be credited with holding down the Celtics fort between the mid-70's teams and the teams of the 80's. What separates Maxwell is his memorable playoff performances, including the 1981 Finals MVP, and his famous "Just hop on my back boys, and I'll take you on in", line prior to Game 7 of the '84 Finals vs. L.A., in which Max put up 24 points in the decisive victory.

9. Tommy Heinsohn, 1956 Territorial Pick

Tommy Heinsohn was a territorial pick by the Celtics in the first round of the 1956 draft. He played 9 seasons in the NBA, all with Boston, sporting career averages of 19.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. This Hall-Of-Famer appeared in six All-Star games and coached in four more. Heinsohn won eight NBA Championships as a player with the Celtics and two more as the teams head coach in 1974 and 1976. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1957 and was named to the All-NBA second team four times. Heinsohn probably could have been lower on this list, but the Celtics had an advantage nabbing him in the draft since he was a territorial pick.

8. JoJo White, 1969 (9th overall)

The Celtics selected JoJo White 9th in a draft where he arguably ended up the second best player, behind Lew Alcindor who as taken #1 by the Milwaukee Bucks. White played 12 seasons in the NBA, 10 in Green, winning championships in 1974 and 1976. He averaged 17.2 points per game during his 12 seasons, but more importantly he averaged 21.5 points per game in the playoffs, and was named the NBA Finals MVP in 1976. White appeared in seven All-Star games and was named to the All-NBA second team twice.

7. Dave Cowens, 1970 (4th)

Cowens played 11 seasons in his illustrious NBA career, 10 with the Celtics, as he averaged 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. He was co-Rookie of the Year in 1971, MVP in 1973 and was NBA All-Defensive first team in 1976. Cowens won two championships with the Celtics and made seven All-Star teams, winning the 1973 All-Star Game MVP. He probably could have been lower on this list, but the Celtics took Cowens right where he probably should have been selected.

6. Reggie Lewis, 1987 (22nd)

Though Reggie Lewis' career was tragically cut short after just six seasons in the NBA, he was considered a draft steal by Red Auerbach and the Celtics. He averaged 17.6 points per game, including 20.8 per game in each of his last two seasons. Lewis was an All-Star in 1992 and put on an impressive performance in the 1992 playoffs, averaging 28.0 points per game in 10 games. What makes Lewis even more of a draft steal is the fact that Joe Wolf, Tellis Frank, Jose Oritz, Christian Welp, Ronnie Murphy and Dallas Comegys are just a few of the names that were selected before the Celtics took Lewis 22nd.

5. Paul Pierce, 1998 (10th)

As the 1998 draft approached, many thought that Pierce was a possible #2 pick, certainly in the top 5, but on the night of the draft his name kept slipping and he fell all the way to the Celtics at #10. If the NBA were to get a redo, the #1 pick in the '98 Draft would be a toss up between Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki. In his six seasons in Boston Pierce has averaged 23.2 points per game, appeared in three All-Star games, and has set numerous franchise records. Pierce was part of the largest fourth quarter comeback in NBA history in 2002, when the Celtics came back from a 21-point third quarter deficit, behind 19 points from Pierce in the quarter, to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Pierce also broke the franchise record for points in a half in the playoffs, scoring 32 against the Pacers in Game 4 of the 2003 Playoffs.

4. Sam Jones, 1957 (8th)

Jones is one of the more unheralded legends in the NBA. You don't hear much about him, but he's a Hall-Of-Famer, a 10-time NBA Champion, appeared in five All-Star games and was named to the NBA's 25th and 50th anniversary teams. Jones averaged 17.7 points per game in his 12 years in Boston, including 25.9 points in 1965. His career playoff average is 18.9 points per game, including 28.6 points per game on the way to the 1965 championship. Some of the players selected ahead of Jones in 1957 include Charles Tyra, Win Wilfong, Len Rosenbluth and George Bon Salle.

3. Kevin McHale, 1980 (3rd)

Normally he might be a little higher on this list because you expect good things from the 3rd pick, but the Celtics had the 1st pick and traded it to Golden State, along with the 13th pick. In return the Celtics got Robert Parish and the 3rd pick, which turned out to be McHale. Golden State ending up selecting Joe Barry Carroll with the 1st pick. McHale is often regarded as having the widest array of post moves the NBA has ever seen. The 6-10 power forward played 13 seasons in Boston, averaging 17.9 points per game on his way to three championships. McHale won the Sixth Man Award in 1984 and 85, was an All-NBA first team selection in 1987, an NBA All-Defensive first team selection from 1986-88, a seven-time All-Star, one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and a Hall-of-Famer.

2. John Havlicek, 1962 (7th)

Bill McGill, Paul Hogue, Zelmo Beaty, Len Chappell, Wayne Hightower and LeRoy Ellis, heard of any of those names before? Me neither. Those were the six names called out before Havlicek in the 1962 NBA Draft, as Red Auerbach pulled off another gem. Havlicek tuned out to be the total package for the Boston Celtics and finished his 16-year career as the team's all-time leading scorer. He made the All-NBA first or second team in 11 seasons and made the All-Defensive first or second team nine times. He won eight championships and was the 1974 Finals MVP. Havlicek was a 13-time All-Star, named to the NBA's 35th anniversary team, the 50th anniversary team and is a Hall-of-Famer. He ended his career with a 20.8 point per game average, including 22.0 points per game in the playoffs, and he holds the franchises single season scoring record with 2,338 points (28.9 ppg.) in 1970-71.

1. Larry Bird, 1978 (6th)

Larry Bird's selection in the 1978 draft has to be one of the best picks in sports history. Auerbach, knowing the chances of Bird leaving college as a junior were slim to none, took Bird anyways, because he thought he was that good. After the Celtics waited through a difficult 29-53 season in 1978-79, Bird proved Auerbach to be a genius as the Celtics went 61-21 in 1979-80 with Bird winning Rookie of the Year honors. Bird averaged 24.3 points per game in his 13-year NBA career, while leading the Celtics to three championships. He won the MVP three times, the Finals MVP twice, made numerous All-NBA teams and All-Defensive teams, was selected to 12 All-Star teams, was named to the NBA's 50th anniversary team and is a Hall-of-Famer.

Honorable Mention:

  • Chuck Cooper - 1950 (2nd Round)
  • Charlie Scott - 1970 (106th Overall)
  • Frank Ramsey - 1953 (1st Round)
  • Tom "Satch" Sanders - (8th Overall)
  • Antoine Walker - 1996 (6th Overall)
  • Dino Radja - 1989 (40th Overall)

Compiled by: Brian Gleason