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How did the Celtics get so many 1st-round picks?

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Thanks to a lot of shrewd trades.

Boston Celtics Introduce Brad Stevens Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

The Celtics are set for the future. After their trade with the 76ers for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, their rolodex of picks just got even more extensive.

In the deal, they acquired the rights to Lakers’ 2018 first-round pick so long as it’s not the first-overall pick or later than No. 6. If the pick doesn’t convey, the Celtics will get the more favorable pick between the Kings 2019 draft pick or the 76ers 2019 draft pick, so long as it isn’t No. 1 overall.

They’ll add that pick to their collection along with Brooklyn’s first-round pick next season, a top-14 protected first-round pick from the Clippers in 2019 and a top-eight protected first-round pick from the Grizzlies. Over the next three years, they have 10 draft picks in total.

Games aren’t won in the summertime, but futures sure are. And the Celtics look set for a while. But how did we get here? Let’s explore how Boston acquired so many first-round draft picks since dealing away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the summer of 2013.

2014 No. 6 overall (Marcus Smart)

The Celtics bottomed out in 2013-14, finishing 24-58. For their efforts, they received the No. 6 pick in the draft and took Smart out of Oklahoma State. Smart has struggled with his offense but has emerged as a fine and tenacious defender.

2014 No. 17 overall via Nets (James Young)

Young was the first blood drawn from the Brooklyn trade. The Nets already had a pick swap in place with the Hawks, so they used the least favorable between the projected Nets and Hawks selections. They took Young, who has not panned out despite Bill Simmons’ glee at the time.

2015 No. 16 pick (Terry Rozier)

The Celtics did not receive the Nets’ pick outright due to the pick swap in place with the Hawks. Instead, they got the second-most favorable pick out of three among the Hawks, Nets, and themselves. They took Rozier in a mild surprise.

2015 No. 29 pick via Clippers (R.J. Hunter)

The Celtics received this pick as compensation for allowing Doc Rivers to get out of his contract to coach the Clippers. Hunter is no longer on the team.

2016 No. 3 pick via Nets (Jaylen Brown)

The Celtics took this pick outright from the Nets as part of the Pierce/Garnett trade. The Nets finished 21-61 in 2015-16 and finished in the No. 3 slot, which the Celtics used to pick Brown. Brown represents the best the Celtics currently have from the Brooklyn trade, but there’s a lot more to come.

2016 No. 16 pick via Mavericks (Gershon Yabusele)

This pick arrived from Dallas as part of the Rajon Rondo trade in 2014. The pick was protected 1-3 and 15-30 in 2015, so it did not convey until the next year. Yabusele spent last year dominating in China and could play for the Celtics next year.

2016 No. 23 pick (Ante Zizic)

The 20-year-old Croatian 7-footer just completed an excellent season for Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul and is expected to join the Celtics next year. He finished second to top 2018 prospect Luka Doncic for the Euroleague Rising Star award.

2016 No. 28 pick (Skal Labissiere)

We’re only including this pick because it’s the one the Celtics dealt to the Suns in the Isaiah Thomas trade. That worked out pretty well for Boston!

Boston originally got it when it took on Tyler Zeller from the Cavs in 2014. That move cleared the cap space necessary for Cleveland to sign LeBron James.

2017 No. 3 overall pick via 76ers

In the Pierce/Garnett deal, the Celtics also acquired the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in 2017. The Nets had the league’s worst record in 2016-17 and won the draft lottery thanks to the luck of the pingpong balls, so Boston obviously exercised its swap rights. But Boston then dealt that pick to the Philadelphia 76ers and got the 76ers’ No. 3 overall pick, along with another future first-rounder in return.

Who will they take? Good question.

2018 first-round pick via Brooklyn (unprotected)

The Nets are the gift that just keeps on giving. Next season, they’ll likely be terrible again and the Celtics will be rewarded with their unprotected first-round pick.

UPDATE: This pick was traded to get Kyrie Irving, so pretty good return.

2018 first-round pick via Lakers (only if between picks No. 2-5)

As part of the trade with the 76ers, the Celtics received the rights to the Lakers’ 2018 first-round pick, so long as it falls between picks No. 2-5. Otherwise, the 76ers keep it.

The Lakers gave this pick up in the Steve Nash trade with Phoenix back in 2012 that began their current downward spiral. It then went to Philadelphia in an ill-fated, three-team trade deadline deal involving Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Knight. It then changed hands again when the 76ers moved up to get Markelle Fultz.

If the pick doesn’t convey to Boston, the 76ers get to keep it, but they’ll have to give up a high 2019 pick instead, likely via the Kings. More on that in a second.

2018 first-round pick (their own)

This’ll probably be in the 20s, but it’s nice to have.

2019 first-round pick via Kings/76ers (if necessary)

Should the Lakers retain their pick in 2018, the Celtics would receive a 2019 first-round pick from the 76ers. That pick is the better of the two between Philadelphia’s own selection and Sacramento’s pick, unless either is No. 1 overall.

The 76ers had this pick to trade because of one of the dumbest deals of all time. Tom Ziller laid it out here:

2019 first-round pick via Grizzlies (top-eight protected)

Back in 2014, the Grizzlies were looking to get over the hump, and Jeff Green was playing terrific ball for Brad Stevens. So Memphis pushed its chips in the middle, landing Green in a complicated three-team trade involving the Pelicans and Celtics. This first-round pick was the prized asset heading Boston’s way.

The Grizzlies also owed a first-round pick to the Cavaliers at the time thanks to an ill-timed salary dump. League rules state that teams cannot deal first-round picks in consecutive seasons, so the Grizzlies told the Celtics that they’d get this first-rounder two years after that Cavaliers pick conveyed. That Cleveland pick has since moved on to Denver and then Portland, and it’ll finally convey this year.

The Celtics are hoping that Marc Gasol and Mike Conley will be past their primes by 2019. If the Grizzlies pick in the top eight then, the pick becomes top-six protected in 2020 and completely unprotected in 2021.

2019 first-round pick via Clippers (lottery protected)

This trade was one of the more puzzling ones from the 2016 draft. The Celtics traded Deyonta Davis (the No. 31 pick) and the rights to the No. 35 overall pick (someone named Rade Zagorac) to Memphis for a top-14 protected first round pick in 2019.

The Grizzlies got this pick when the Clippers traded Lance Stephenson for Jeff Green in Feb. 2016. Jeff Green: the gift that keeps on giving.

2019 first-round pick (their own)

Again: a nice thing to have.

2020 first-round pick (their own)

Still got it.

2021 first-round pick (their own)

Another bullet in their chamber of assets.


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