By Christopher Frangolini
If President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge cannot strike a deal before the June 23 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics will be stuck with the third overall pick. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (unless the Celtics draft an unproven Dragan Bender, an 18-year old Croatian who averages less than five points per game for Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv overseas).
Let’s take a look at the history of the number three pick over the past five years and see how their NBA careers have gone thus far.
Pick #1: Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota)
Pick #2: D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles)
Pick #3: Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia)
With the third pick in the 2015 draft, the 76ers drafted Jahlil Okafor from Duke. Okafor started 48 games (53 total games played) for the 76ers and averaged 17.5 points per game on .508 percent shooting. He was selected to the NBA All-Rookie first team and was second on Philadelphia with a 17.1 player efficiency rating. During his rookie year, he got into an altercation outside of a Boston night club and was suspended two games by the team.
Pick #1: Andrew Wiggins (Cleveland)
Pick #2: Jabari Parker (Milwaukee)
Pick #3: Joel Embiid (Philadelphia)
Philadelphia new what they were getting themselves into when they drafted an injury-prone Joel Embiid from Kansas. The 7-foot big man missed his entire rookie season after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot and did not play at all this season. He has yet to step foot on the court and log an NBA minute.
Pick #1: Anthony Bennett (Cleveland)
Pick #2: Victor Oladipo (Orlando)
Pick #3: Otto Porter (Washington)
Otto Porter Jr. (Georgetown) has shown growth since he’s come into the league, but his hopes of being a star have faded. He started 73 of his 75 games played for the Wizards and averaged 11.6 points per game and 5.2 rebounds and has cemented himself as a solid-to-average starter or could be a good bench player on another team.
Pick #1: Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
Pick #2: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte)
Pick #3: Bradley Beal (Washington)
Bradley (Florida) was hailed as a shooter when he was drafted in 2012, something the Wizards needed. He averaged 13.9 points as a rookie and shot .386 percent from downtown, which earned him two rookie of the month nods. Since that time he has improved his three point shooting to a career .397% and averaged a career-best 17.9 points last season. The biggest knock, however, is that he only played in 55 games (35 starts) due to injuries.
I love Bradley Beal, but man does he get hurt a lot.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 3, 2015
Pick #1: Kyrie Irving (Cleveland)
Pick #2: Derrick Williams (Minnesota)
Pick #3: Enes Kanter (Utah)
Kanter spent four seasons in Utah and averaged 9.3 points. In 2014-15, he averaged 13.8 points (49 games) for the Jazz before being traded to Oklahoma City as part of a three-team deal. He’s found a good role in Oklahoma City off the bench, where he has shot an efficient .573 percent from the field and contributed 14.1 points and 8.8 rebounds. He averaged 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds during Oklahoma City’s run to the Western Conference finals.
This doesn’t mean the Celtics will whiff on the pick, if they hold on to it. Michael Jordan (1984), Kevin McHale (1980) and Dominique Wilkins (1982) were all number three picks and are hall of famers. Even more recently, players like James Harden (2009), Carmelo Anthony (2003) and Pau Gasol (2001) are franchise-changing players taken at the third spot.