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Celtics’ draft lottery history revisited

05.20.14 at 1:40 pm ET
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The Celtics will take part in the NBA draft lottery for the 10th time in team history on Tuesday night, coming in with the fifth-best odds (10.3 percent) at landing the top pick in the June 26 draft. Here is a look at how the C’s have fared since the ping pong balls were instituted in 1985.

1986: The Celtics won 67 games, went 40-1 at home and won their 16th NBA title in 1986, and then they landed the No. 2 pick in the draft courtesy of the Seattle SuperSonics. The C’s traded Gerald Henderson for Seattle’s 1986 first-round pick, and the Sonics finished the 1986 campaign with the fifth-worst record in the league.

The Celtics drafted University of Maryland star Len Bias with the second overall pick. Bias was heralded as a potential star who could preserve the C’s run as an NBA power with the end of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish‘s careers in sight, but those hopes ended tragically two days later when Bias died of a cocaine overdose.

1994: The Celtics finished with the ninth-worst record in the NBA following a 32-50 season and didn’t move from their position after the lottery, landing the No. 9 pick in the draft. Boston used that pick to select North Carolina center Eric Montross. Montross played just two of his eight NBA seasons with the Celtics.

1997: The 1997 draft lottery is one that lives in infamy for many Celtics fans. The C’s finished with the worst record in franchise history and the league’s second-worst mark at 15-67, but they lost out on the Tim Duncan sweepstakes by finishing third in the lottery. Boston also got the No. 6 pick from a trade with the Mavericks, who finished with the sixth-worst record.

Instead of landing the highly coveted Duncan, the Celtics were forced to settle for Colorado guard Chauncey Billups at No. 3 and Kentucky forward Ron Mercer at No. 6. Although he eventually turned into a five-time All-Star, three time All-NBA selection and 2004 NBA Finals MVP, Billups lasted just 51 games in Boston before being traded to Toronto for Kenny Anderson after a falling out with C’s coach Rick Pitino. Mercer lasted just two seasons with the Celtics.

1998: The Celtics finished with the 10th-worst record in the NBA at 36-46, and received the No. 10 pick in the draft. This time, however, Boston made its pick count, selecting Kansas forward Paul Pierce. Pierce spent 15 seasons in Boston, making 10 All-Star Games and leading the Celtics to their 17th NBA title in 2008. He is one of three Celtics who have scored over 20,000 points with the C’s and holds the franchise record for 3-point field goals.

2000: The Celtics finished 35-47 in 2000 for the 11th-worst record in the NBA, which turned into the No. 11 pick in the draft following the lottery. The C’s used that pick to select French forward Jerome Moiso out of UCLA. Moiso played just 24 games in his lone season in Boston.

2001: The Celtics once again had no movement in their draft position following the lottery in 2001. The C’s finished with the 10th-worst record at 36-46, and used the No. 10 pick to select Arkansas guard Joe Johnson. Johnson would go on to be a seven-time All-Star, but like Billups, his success would come after his short tenure in Boston, where he lasted just one season.

2006: At 33-49, the Celtics finished with the seventh-best odds at landing the top pick in the 2006 draft, but the ping pong balls once again left them where they started. The Celtics drafted Villanova guard Randy Foye with No. 7 pick but promptly traded Foye to Portland for Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff in a five-player deal.

2007: Celtics fans’ most recent draft lottery memories are as dark and forgettable as their 1997 experience. After Pierce missed seven weeks due to injury in December, the C’s found themselves in the thick of the race for the best odds at landing college standouts Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. The Celtics suffered a franchise-record 18-game losing streak that ended in February and finished 2007 with the league’s second-worst record at 24-58. Despite the second-best odds at landing the top pick, the C’s draft lottery demons struck again as they landed the No. 5 in the draft, the lowest possible spot they could have received.

Of course, that misfortune ultimately turned into a positive as Boston drafted Jeff Green with the fifth pick and then traded him, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West for Ray Allen and the rights to the Sonics’ 35th pick, which turned into LSU forward Glen Davis. Allen was a key piece in the Celtics’ new Big Three alongside Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Boston’s 2008 title run.

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