With it being graduation season, I think its appropriate to bring up a line from one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/And sorry I could not travel both”
When the long-time New England native first wrote those opening lines to The Road Not Taken, I highly doubt he thought they’d someday be applied to the standing of Danny Ainge as he decides what to do with the Celtics’ 3rd selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. But poets have always been a little cuckoo, so who knows.
The Celtics landed the 3rd pick in the NBA Draft on Tuesday night as the NBA Draft Lottery featured no surprises this year.
Now we look at the two roads the Celtics can take:
Road #1: The future is now
The Celtics are built to make a run deep into the playoffs next season. They have a very talented superstar point guard in Isaiah Thomas and a ton of cap space and other intangibles to attract free agent center Al Horford to Boston. In this case they can trade the pick (and a handful of other players) for someone like Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls or maybe, just maybe DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings.
Or they could draft the 22-year-old Buddy Hield who looks ready to have an immediate impact at the NBA-level.
Road #2: The future looks better than ever
I think Dragan Bender has the potential to be something really great. I admit to a little bit of recency bias with the outbreak of Latvian phenom Kristaps Porzingis with the New York Knicks, but Bender has forward-size with guard-quickness. His three-point shot is deadly. And he’s only 18-years old.
The Celtics have traditionally been a very small and tight front office that hasn’t often looked overseas to recruit players or scout talent, but they now have a few weeks to do their research on Bender. And, yes, I would be very devastated if Bender turned out to be the second coming of Darko Milicic as Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, and Buddy Hield became LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade.
My very early, pre-YouTube highlight consumption opinion? Well, as Frost would say…”I took the one less traveled by.” TAKE DRAGAN BENDER.
The Celtics also have swap rights with Brooklyn for next season and Brooklyn’s unprotected first round pick in 2018. That’s two more young players to add and build around as LeBron gets older, the East becomes more open, and Bender works on becoming the next Dirk Nowtizki. The years 2019-2021 look like they could be the next 2008-2011 if the Celtics take Dragan Bender.
Also, I feel like there’s gonna be one or two English nerds out there that would call me out so as a disclaimer, yes, I know I interpreted the poem incorrectly. I’ll use my poetic license how I want.