The Boston Celtics are current owners of the #1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Who knows what they plan to do with said pick. Will they go for Markelle Fultz? Lonzo Ball? Will they trade the pick? Our own Jordan Daly breaks it down here.
Whatever the case may be, the Boston Celtics have drafted in the top 10 of the first round a total 36 times. A lot of these picks you probably have never heard of, such as former top 3 pick, Bulbs Ehlers. Some of the picks were all-star caliber players whom never played a whole season in a Celtics uniform, such as Chauncey Billups and Joe Johnson. These players obviously did not make the list, so with that being said, let’s jump right into it.
Boston Celtics Top 10 Picks in the Top 10
#10- Frank Ramsey
The 1953-54 NBA season consisted of nine NBA teams. It was a much simpler time, and no offense to the very first to play in the league we all love and enjoy, but it was much easier to win. It was easier to score, easier to become a superstar. Honestly, everything was easier. Frank Ramsey was drafted as the fifth pick in the 1953 draft by the Boston Celtics. From there he would have career averages of 13.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. He spent nine years in Boston, playing his rookie season in 1954-55, but then going to the army. He returned the following season, and played until 1964, then he retired. Frank Ramsey was inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 1981 Class.
#9- Tom Sanders
The Boston Celtics drafted Tom Sanders with the eighth pick in 1960. He is an eight-time NBA champion who retired as a member of the Hall of Fame. Tom would play 13 years in the NBA, all with the Celtics. He is very underrated. He would average 9.6 points, 1.1 assists, and 6.3 rebounds per game. These statistics don’t paint the full picture. TomSsanders was a defensive stud. Although he shot a crummy 42.8% from the field, and his offense was nothing to marvel over, he had a great defensive game. He shut down offensive stars. He limited their shooting percentages, and was even a member of the 1968-69 all defensive team. Sanders is nowhere close to the eight players ahead of him on this list, but he’s a great player, nonetheless.
#8- Antoine Walker
You would think a big man who can shoot threes, average 20.6 points per game in his Celtics career, and grab 8.7 rebounds per game would be higher on this list, right? Nope, Antoine Walker was an offensive juggernaut, but the same cannot be said for his defense. Walker averaged less than a block a game in his eight-year tenure with Boston. He also turned the ball over an average of 3.2 times per game, as well as fouling opponents 3.1 times per game. Walker was a steal at #6 in the draft, but in a stacked draft class (1996) that featured Hall of Fame talents such as Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, the Celtics could have done better. Nonetheless, Walker is still one of the best picks in Celtics history.
#7- Sam Jones
In twelve years with the Boston Celtics (1957-1969) Sam Jones was stunning. Chosen with the eighth pick in the 1957 NBA draft. Jones averaged 17.7 points per game, on 45.6% shooting, to go with 4.9 rebounds a game, and 2.5 assists per game. He won ten championships with the Celtics, was a five-time all-star, and had a Hall of Fame career. He retired with 15,411 points, 4,305 rebounds, and 2,209 assists. Who knows how good he would’ve been in another era, but he dominated in his.
#6- Jo Jo White
Jo Jo White was a very talented point guard for the Celtics, before being dealt to the Golden State Warriors in 1978. In ten years in Boston, White averaged 18.2 points per game, on 44.2% shooting, while also adding 5.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. He became a Hall of Fame inductee with the 2015 class. White was a two-time NBA champion, made the all-NBA team twice, and was a seven time all-star. His success started from early in his career. He was a part of the 1969-70 all rookie team. He continued his greatness, being the Finals MVP in the 1975-76 season. Jo Jo White dropped 13,188 points, 3,686 assists, and 3,071 rebounds over the course of his career. White was drafted with the ninth pick in the 1969 NBA draft.
#5- Kevin McHale
Kevin McHale was drafted with the third overall pick in the 1980 NBA draft. He was a seven-time all-star, three time NBA champion, and a Hall of Fame inductee. Not only was he a prolific scorer, averaging 17.9 points a game, on 55.4% shooting, but he was a great defender too. He made six all-defensive teams, and over the course of his career, averaged 1.7 blocks per game. He also has two sixth man of the year awards, as he was able to do such great things off the bench. McHale finished his career with 17,335 points, 1,690 blocks, 1,670 assists, and 7,120 rebounds.
#4- Dave Cowens
The fourth pick in 1970 is number four on our list, classy. A Hall of Fame member (1991 class), the 1972-73 league MVP, a two-time NBA champion, an eight-time all-star, the 1970-71 rookie of the year, and a member of three all defensive teams, it really can’t get much better than this, can it? Well when your final three are composed of guys who are top 40 players of all-time, each personally dropping more than 21,500 points in their Celtics’ careers, it really can.
The most amazing thing about Cowens is at 6’9″ tall, he averaged 14 rebounds per game. Take that in for a second, many seven-footers aren’t even doing that. Cowens’ greatness went under appreciated, as he also averaged 18.2 points on 46% shooting, and averaged a block a game, as well as 1.2 steals per game, as a Boston Celtic. Cowens finished his career with 13,192 points, 10,170 rebounds, and 2,828 assists.
#3- John Havlicek
At 26,395 points over the course of a Hall of Fame career, John Havlicek (seventh pick of 1962 NBA draft) will go down as one of the greatest ever. It’s just suiting that #2 on this list retired with just two more points than Havlicek. The thirteen time all-star spent all sixteen years of his career with the Celtics. Havlicek won eight championships with the Celtics, and was a member of eight all defensive teams. He also finished his career with 6,114 assists and 8,007 rebounds. The reason Havlicek is not higher on this list is because of his era. He played basketball from 1962-1978. Basketball was much easier then, and not even close to the intensity of the 80’s, 90’s and the 2000’s, which is when the top two players on this list played.
#2- Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce, originally the tenth pick of the 1998 NBA draft, is no doubt a first ballot Hall of Fame candidate. He spent fifteen years in Boston (’98-’13) before being traded to Brooklyn, in the worst trade in Nets franchise history. Paul Pierce is a ten-time NBA all-star and a member of four All-NBA teams. Paul Pierce led the Celtics to two NBA finals appearances, but only once succeeded, which was in the 2007-2008 season. Pierce was named the Finals MVP that year. That championship was very important, as it marked the first title for the Celtics in 22 years. Pierce averaged 21.8 points, 6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.6 blocks and 1.4 steals per game in his time with Boston. He shot at great percentage, averaging 44.5% on field goals, 80.5% from the free throw line, and 36.8% from beyond the three point line.
The Truth retired at number four on the all-time three pointers list, and number one in Celtics history. He finished his career in Boston with a total 24,021 points, 668 blocks, 1583 steals, 4305 assists, 6651 rebounds, and 2143 threes. After Boston, he moved on to play with Brooklyn, Washington, and the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite how good he was, “The Truth” is that he’s second to only one.
#1- Larry Bird
In thirteen seasons (two years less than Pierce) Larry Bird is crowned as the best player in Celtics history, so why wouldn’t he be their best draftee of all time? The sixth pick of the 1978 NBA draft put up averages of 24.3 points, 1.7 steals, 10 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 6.3 assists per game. Bird was also a bigger defensive presence than Paul Pierce, as he made three All Defensive teams. The only stat Pierce had over Bird was steals per game. The only reason Pierce has more points than Bird is because he played two more years.
Bird played from 1979 to 1992. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1998. He’s a 12-time all-star and a member of 10 All-NBA teams. Bird has two finals MVP awards, and three regular season MVP awards. Bird put up 21,791 points, 1,556 steals, 755 blocks, 5,695 assists, and 8,974 rebounds in his time with Boston.
Larry Legend will always be remembered in Boston. How will this year’s pick turn out?