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The 53-Win Boston Celtics Won the NBA Draft Lottery Thanks to the Shortsighted Brooklyn Nets
On Monday the Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals with a Game 7 win over the Washington Wizards. On Tuesday they won the 2017 NBA draft lottery, giving them the top pick in next month’s draft.
Here’s a look at the complete lottery results:
1. Celtics (via Nets)
3. 76ers (via Kings)
5. Kings (via 76ers)
10. Kings (via Pelicans)
As you probably know, that’s not how things are supposed to work. The terrible teams are supposed to pick first and the good teams are supposed to pick last. So how did the Celtics become the first conference finalist to get the number one pick in the 33-year history of the lottery?
To answer that question, we have to the blockbuster trade of 2013.
On June 23, the day of the 2013 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics sent Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and D.J. White to the Brooklyn Nets for first round picks in 2014, 2016, and 2018, plus Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, and Keith Bogans, plus the right to swap first round picks in 2017 if the Nets ended up with the higher pick.
At the time nobody knew where the Celtics would be in four years. But it was pretty clear the Nets would be terrible, seeing as how they’d just traded their future for a bunch of guys on the wrong side of 30.
Sure enough, this year the Celtics finished first in the East with a record of 53-29, while the Nets finished dead last with a record of 20-62. That gave the Celtics a 25% chance of winning the draft lottery. And on Tuesday night, they came out on top.
Take a look:
The Brooklyn Nets will have the 22nd and 27th picks in this year’s draft, which is better than nothing…but not as good as number one.
The lesson? Don’t trade all your future draft picks for a bunch of old guys.