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After just a few short weeks of celebration, it was time for Danny Ainge to get back to work. The Boston Celtics had just won their 17th NBA title and Ainge was starting to look like a genius after assembling one of the greatest Celtics teams of all time. Ainge hit a home run in the summer of 2007 but how would he follow it up in 2008? Read on to find out.

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Draft: 2008
Picks: (1)30, (2)60

(1)30. J.R. Giddens, SG New Mexico 

In 2007-08 the Celtics, led by the Big Three, put together one of the greatest season to season turnarounds in NBA history. Going 66-16, Boston came away with 42 more victories than their previous season's total. As a result, Ainge would no longer be picking top tier talent in the lottery. Instead he would have to wait until the very end of the first round to make his first selection.

By the time his turn rolled around Ainge was left with fairly limited options in an otherwise star-studded draft class. However, the Celtics' President of Basketball Operations tried to make the best of the situation by taking J.R. Giddens, a combo guard out of the University of New Mexico. 

Giddens split his four years of college between two schools. Originally, he had received a scholarship from Roy Williams to play basketball at Kansas. But Williams left just before Giddens arrived and it was Bill Self who convinced the new recruit to stay. Giddens played well enough in his freshman year to earn All-Big 12 Conference Freshman honors but that's where his success would end as a Jayhawk. Following his sophomore season at KU, he was involved in a stabbing incident and both he and Self decided that it would be best for him to transfer elsewhere. Hoping for a new start, he moved onto New Mexico where things didn't get much better. Because of NCAA rules, Giddens had to sit out a year before he could play for the Lobos but once he became eligible he ended up getting suspended by the team. Luckily, Giddens was able to use his senior year to his advantage when he was named Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Year. 

Despite his baggage, Danny Ainge believed that Giddens could make an impact on his team. Giddens had an NBA ready body and, although inefficient (career slash line: .463/.350/.601), he could score the ball pretty well. As a result, Ainge decided to take a chance on him.  

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(2)60. Semih Erden, C Turkey

With the last pick of the 2008 Draft the Boston Celtics selected Turkish big man, Semih Erden. Erden is a legitimate 7-footer and prior to being drafted he already had 7 years of professional experience overseas with a few different clubs. However, he never really stood out on those teams.

Erden failed to average double digits in any statistical category and he also didn't get all that much playing time. Instead, he relied on his undeniable size and length to pique the interest of NBA teams and with the 60th pick he was a nice little project for the Celtics to take on.

Still under contract with Fenerbahce, Erden wasn't able to sign with the Celtics for the 2008-09 season. He was forced to wait until the summer of 2010 to sign with the team that drafted him and he made his debut with Boston that year. The big Turk averaged 9.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per 36 minutes during the 2010-11 season and he served as a decent back-up at the center position whenever Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal, or Jermaine O'Neal went down with an injury, which was quite often. 

Unfortunately for Erden, his time spent as a Celtic was cut short. Midway through his rookie season, Danny Ainge shipped both him and Luke Harangody to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for a second-round draft pick. 

Summary

The 2007 NBA Draft was an extremely successful one for Danny Ainge, making it hard to follow up. Tried as he might, Ainge failed to make a big splash for a second consecutive year. You could argue that this rough draft was the result of late picks but Ainge missed out on a few players that eventually became impact players.

Instead of taking J.R. Giddens, the Celtics could have selected Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, Omer Asik, Luc Mbah a Moute, or even Goran Dragic. Had they taken either one of the two point guards listed, there might not have been as much of a setback this past year. With a guy like Chalmers or Dragic backing up Rondo, the Celtics wouldn't have had to rely so heavily on Avery Bradley. Point guard isn't Bradley's natural position which is why he played so poorly this season but this is all being said assuming that the Celtics would have held onto either Chalmers or Dragic.

As far as Jordan and Asik are concerned, they both would have been great bigs to have at a time like this. Boston ranked 29th in team rebounding last season and both of these guys could have contributed a lot to our efforts on the boards. Heck, the Cs might end up getting Jordan soon anyways what with all the KG to the Clippers talk going on. But again, that's assuming Ainge would have hung onto them.

Giddens wasn't the only bust the Cs drafted. Erden didn't amount to anything and was traded away by the deadline. There may have been no other options for Ainge at that point in the draft but he could have tried to finagle a deal to swap the pick for cash at the very least. And if that wasn't bad enough, Danny sent cash considerations to the Washington Wizards for the draft rights to Bill Walker, another bust. Walker only played 7.4 minutes per game in his rookie season, scoring just 3 points a night.

The title was wonderful but it also didn't put Ainge in a good position to add talent to his roster via the draft. I guess that's what happens when your a championship caliber team.

Grade: F


 


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