Danny Ainge, general manager of the Boston Celtics, acquired his treasure chest of assets by exploiting the Brooklyn Nets’ lack of patience. The Nets wanted to win–and in a hurry–in order to bring instance success to their new home, Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, NY.
Through the years, many have said that Ainge has been too frugal with all these picks. He “should have traded them for star players.” Fans and analysts alike often forget about the NBA title Ainge won as the Celtics executive in 2008–mainly by trading picks for star players–and now Ainge is cashing in his chips. He’s doing it his way, though.
Ainge has yet to relinquish any of the Nets picks, not for Paul George nor Jimmy Butler. Instead, he has signed All-Star free agents Al Horford (2016) and Gordon Hayward (2017). He made a shrewd move to acquire Isaiah Thomas, and he’s used the Nets picks to draft promising young players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
When Ainge’s career as a talent evaluator is over, his best decisions might be the ones he never made. While no one will proclaim anything based on the Summer League, Tatum’s freshman season at Duke, individual workouts, and two games in the Utah Summer League make him a top candidate to win Rookie of the Year.
Tatum came from a storied Duke program, and his body and polished offensive game are NBA-ready today. Against the San Antonio Spurs, Tatum erupted for 23 points and 10 rebounds, while his debut against the Sixers featured a game-winning mid-range jumper.
"You’d be hard-pressed to find another 19-year-old in this country that just has the demeanor that he has,” Celtics Summer League coach Jerome Allen said.
Following Ainge’s signing of Hayward, the Celtics now have a mix of veteran All-Stars and young phenoms–who have the potential to develop into All-Stars.
No, Ainge did not spring for George like many Celtics fans wanted him to. But keep in mind that George could bolt in the offseason without so much as a “thank you.” Tatum and Brown are the safer bet. Oh, and Ainge still has two top first-round picks coming his way in 2017-18. That’s a pretty good haul for a team that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season.
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