Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge poured some more cold water on the potential 2014 NBA Draft class in an interview with the Globe’s Baxter Holmes Monday.
Following a weekend in which Kansas and Duke freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker disappointed in the NCAA Tournament, Ainge was asked how this draft class compares to last year’s, which most analysts pegged as relatively weak.
“I think it’s maybe a little bit better by comparison, but it’s not even close to one of the best draft classes in the last 10 years,” Ainge said.
In looking at the best draft classes of the last 10 years, four stand out. The 2009 draft brought us Blake Griffin, James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Brandon Jennings, among others. Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, and Serge Ibaka were all drafted in 2008. The 2007 draft featured Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley Jr., and Joakim Noah. In 2004, Dwight Howard went first overall and Luol Deng, Andre Iquodala, Jameer Nelson, Josh Smith, and Al Jefferson all became very productive players.
For the 2014 draft class to be among the top one or two classes in the last 10 years, 4 to 6 perennial All-Stars must emerge. In that way, Ainge isn’t wrong about this year’s group, but he’s also having his cake and eating it too. He could really, really like a handful of guys at the top and still make this statement without being untruthful. The hype seems to be bothering Ainge more than the players.
On the overhyping of the draft class, Ainge told the Globe:
"I think thats it's realistically hyped now, because I thought -- and I said -- before the season even started that it was completely overhyped. It's like, mock drafts are never accurate until about a week before the draft. They incrementally get a little bit more accurate. But really, until June, the history would say that you really don't want to pay too much attention to it."
Ainge said he wouldn’t be able to fully break down the draft until all eligible players declared. On Monday, Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh made it known he would be leaving school after this season.Gary Dzen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen