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Worst-case scenario

Posted by Barbara Matson, Globe Staff  May 22, 2007 08:58 PM

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The Celtics, who had the second-best chance at landing the first or second pick in the NBA draft, fell to fifth in the NBA lottery.

Memphis, which had the most chances at No. 1, also fell and will pick fourth. The top three picks went to Portland, Seattle and Atlanta.

"I'm ready to turn the page. Now, we know what we've got,'' said Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck who was in Secaucus, N.J., for the drawing.

This result was all too familiar for the Celtics.

It was 10 years ago that the Celtics had their best shot at the No. 1 pick in the lottery. They had their own pick and also the Mavericks' pick (as part of the Eric Montross trade the year before). Those two slots gave the Celtics a 36 percent chance at the No. 1 pick. Instead, San Antonio, which entered with a 21.4 percent shot, got the first pick and Tim Duncan and now have three NBA titles to show for it.

Philadelphia received the No. 2 slot and drafted Keith Van Horn before trading him to New Jersey. The Celtics were left with the third and sixth picks and drafted Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer.

The prizes this year are Ohio State center Greg Oden or Texas small forward Kevin Durant. Because of the NBA’s new draft eligibility rules, both went to college and put a lot of focus on which player would end up being the No. 1 pick. Oden, at 7 feet, led Ohio State to the NCAA title game as a presence in the middle with his exceptional shot-blocking and rebounding ability. Durant (6-10) was a highlight reel every night at Texas as he captured nearly all of the nation’s top player awards.

NBA commissioner David Stern enjoyed the buildup to the draft during the college season, in part because of the new rules. “It gave Oden and Durant a year to play in college and create attention for the draft,’’ he said recently. “The value of a draft pick is worth more now.’’

Although a lot of the attention has been focused on Oden and Durant, Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge says there is talent beyond those two. After Oden and Durant, the next best prospects, according to the Globe’s Peter May, are Brandan Wright, a 6-10 power forward from North Carolina, Al Horford, a 6-9 power forward from two-time national champion Florida, and Yi Jianlian, a 7-0 forward from China.

Portland had a 5.3 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick.

The lottery order:
1. Portland
2. Seattle
3. Atlanta
4. Memphis
5. Boston
6. Milwaukee
7. Minnesota
8. Charlotte
9. Chicago
10. Sacramento
11. Indiana
12. Philadelphia
13. New Orleans
14. LA Clippers

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