Most Celtics fans already know this, but just as a reminder, Danny Ainge has an eye for talent and has a solid track record of successful drafts (6 years of good drafts, and counting). I'd say for the most part, the players he's drafted have either turned out to be guys who crack into the rotation, or have become starters. Sure, he missed on a few, but the amount of players who are making a name for themselves in the NBA outweigh the amount who haven't (by my count, its a 2.5 to 1 ratio). That's a smart drafter, and a guy who has a knack for finding talent. To shine his credentials even more, Ainge is also one of the best at finding talent in the second round.
The ones who panned out:
Big Al Jefferson (star in the making for MIN) Rajon Rondo (closing in on an All-Star berth) Kendrick Perkins (starter on a championship team) Ryan Gomez (solid player for the Wolves) Delonte West (starter on a championship caliber team) Leon Powe (backup PF on a championship team) Baby Davis (backup PF on a championship team)
Haven't panned out: Marcus Banks (1st draft for Ainge, and I think he tried swinging too hard for the fences) Gerald Green (still has time to turn things around, but so far, his career hasn't taken off) Brandon Hunter (for what its worth, I thought he had game) Justin Reed (hustle player with grit, but didn't work out)
Undecided Tony Allen (what could have been if injuries hadn't interrupted his development) Bill Walker (early indications are good, but still early) Gabe Pruitt (in line to earn a future backup PG spot with continued development) Jr Giddens (too early to tell, but could be a future bench player)
Ainge is also smart at maneuvering his way to get guys he likes. He was able to work out a deal with the Suns for their 1st round pick so that he could snatch Rajon Rondo (bet they would like to reverse that move right). And Bill Walker, who no one wanted on draft day, was exchanged for cash considerations from the Wizards--and he looks like he has a bright future.
This year will be a test for our resident draft specialist. With no first round pick to work with, and an aging team with little star power for the future, Ainge will need to find some way to stock our future team and hopefully get us a high potential player who could be a future star.
Odds are against him, but if there's anything I've learned about Ainge over his 6 years in office, its to never discredit his ability to turn water into wine. He'll find a way to do what needs to be done.