Say what you want about Danny Ainge. Say what you want about his choices in free agency, his love of guys who have been bought out halfway through the season or his trades of big men that were instrumental to the team's defensive attitude and toughness. You can say it. I already have.
What you cannot say about Danny Ainge is that he doesn't know how to draft. He proved last night that he's very capable of doing that.
In a draft that experts, fans and NBA general managers alike said was as poor as Nenad Krstic's pick-and-roll defense and the Celtics having two selections late in rounds, there wasn't a great excitement or expectation about which players would be shipping their way up to Boston for the foreseeable future. In fact, there were rumors about Ainge looking to deal out of the draft altogether. They had two glaring needs: A big (any big, really) and a defensive-minded perimeter player. Very few thought that the Celtics would be able to find players who could immediately fill those roles in this draft.
Leave it to Ainge to turn nothing into something.
Instead of trading out of the draft, Ainge stayed in and got exactly what the Celtics needed. He drafted two experienced players, both who played all four years of college ball and who know how to win. JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore both come out of the Purdue program, which has been one of the most successful college basketball programs over the last few years. Both guys were leaders on their team. Both guys made NCAA tournament runs. Both guys played key parts on one of the best teams in the physical, defensive-minded Big Ten conference.
Ainge has shown time and time again his love for guys with college experience and those players have shown in return that they can make an impact. Leon Powe was a second-round pick that played three years at Cal before becoming a factor and a fan favorite in Boston. Glen Davis, another second-round pick, played three years at LSU and made a Final Four run and followed it up by turning into a key piece off the bench for the Celtics. Luke Harangody and Semih Erden, during their short stints here, proved that they could make some sort of immediate impacts for an NBA team. Ainge even drafted Delonte West after West played three years of college hoops and helped lead Saint Joseph's to an Elite Eight run.
Now Ainge is hoping that Johnson and Moore can do the same thing. Johnson is an athletic power forward who can rebound, block shots and has a nice mid-range jumper. Moore is a very good wing defender who can also hit the mid-range jumper.
Neither guy is going to be the next Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen or Paul Pierce, but Ainge filled needs and he did it with his guys, experienced college players. Johnson and Moore should be seeing immediate playing time whenever the season begins due to the Celtics' lack of cap space. Maybe they'll be more like the next Powe, James Posey or Tony Allen. That's nothing to be upset about if you're the Celtics. In fact, it's probably more like something to be pleasantly surprised about.
Then again, with Danny Ainge in the war room, we shouldn't be surprised about any drafting success.