Most of the team’s distinguished Hall of Famers were their own lottery picks selected from the draft. All-time greats like Larry Bird and Kevin McHale can attest to the team’s success when it comes to the lottery. A player of Paul Pierce’s caliber even landed at their laps at number 10 in the 1998 draft.
While most of their high picks turned out to have amazing careers, some players still failed to live up to Beantown’s standards.
Let’s have a look at five of the biggest draft busts in Celtics history.
James Young — 17th overall, 2014
The Celtics didn’t have a shot at the Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiids of the 2014 draft since they had a mid-first-round pick. Still, the C’s could have done a lot better than taking a gamble at James Young.
The 6-foot-6 athletic wing had a decent one-and-done collegiate stint in Kentucky, and a myriad of Celtics news at the time suggested that Boston thought it can unlock his potential. He tallied meager numbers of 3.4 points and 1.4 rebounds in 31 appearances in his rookie year.
Sadly for Boston, that was the highest career average he’d have in the league.
Young didn’t seem to work hard enough in practice to crack the Celtics’ rotation the following season. He suited up for a total of 59 games in the next two years before the Celtics let him go unsigned in 2017. He had multiple G-League stints to try and get back to the league but failed in his comeback with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Marcus Banks — 13th overall by Grizzlies, traded on draft day, 2003
The 2003 Draft class indeed had one of the most talented crops of players in league history. Unfortunately for Boston, they missed out on a game-changing player by trading for Marcus Banks.
They also took in Kendrick Perkins in that deal, which did pay dividends. As for Banks, he failed to become the team’s floor general of the future.
The 6-foot-1 guard played both ends of the floor during his two-year stay in UNLV, which made him a seemingly good fit in Boston. While he was indeed a good defensive stopper, Banks didn’t have the same effect on the other end of the floor. He normed 5.9 points, 2.2 assists, and 1.1 steals in 81 games in 2003-04.
Banks regressed in his second year, recording just 4.6 points and 1.9 assists. They parted ways with him in 2006, sending him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a multi-player deal.
Kedrick Brown — 11th overall, 2001
The 2001 draft was certainly not kind to Boston (more on this later). They drafted Joe Johnson 10th overall — who would later become a multiple-time All-Star — only to trade him away after just one season.
The Celtics still had two more first-rounders that year and they decided to use the number 11 pick for Kedrick Brown.
Despite being undersized at 6-foot-7, the Celtics believed he had the capabilities to anchor their interior. Boy, were they wrong. Boston kept him for three seasons, hoping he’ll eventually find his footing in the league. He notched just 3.1 points and 2.6 rebounds during that horrendous stretch and barely made an impact off the bench.
Jérôme Moïso — 11th overall, 2000
The French prospect was projected to be that draft’s unheralded international talent. The 6-foot-10 slotman didn’t show much promise in his two-year UCLA stint. Boston, however, believed they could work with his raw athleticism.
His lack of skills was apparent from day one, as he struggled to get playing under then-head coach Rick Pitino. He suited up for 134 minutes in his one-and-done year with the C’s and scored a total of 35 points in those appearances.
Jerome Moiso was so bad that they sent him to the then-New Orleans Hornets the following year. Talk about a wasted pick for the Celtics. Boston missed out on center Jamal Magloire who was picked 19th overall that year. If they truly wanted an international stud, Hedo Turkoglu was also still available at the time.
Joseph Forte — 21st overall, 2001
At first glance, Joseph Forte shouldn’t be too high on this list considering he was a late first-round pick. However, Boston missed out on one of the best point guards of all time because they elected to pursue him at the last minute.
All signs pointed to the Celtics using their 21st pick on French sensation Tony Parker. But perhaps intrigued by Forte’s scoring capabilities, they aborted their plans to select TP.
Although he had an explosive high school career followed by an impressive collegiate stint at UNC, Forte was never really much of a playmaker from the start. The Celtics needed someone to facilitate on offense, which Forte obviously wasn’t suited for.
His disastrous rookie year can attest to that, as he played in just eight games and mustered a total of six points.
Forte had lowly career averages of 1.2 points and 0.7 assists per game in his two seasons with the Celtics and the Sonics.
Parker, meanwhile, went on to become a four-time NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs after he slid to them with the 28th pick.