It was long rumored before Thursday’s NBA Draft that Boston Celtics and GM Danny Ainge were planning on taking Joel Embiid with the No. 6 pick if he were available to them. Ultimately, Boston was never faced with the decision, as Embiid was taken with the No. 3 pick by the Philadelphia 76ers.
However, Ainge confirmed the rumors about the Celtics’ interest in Embiid were entirely accurate while appearing on a Boston radio show Friday.
“He was not red-flagged, meaning, “Stay away at all costs.” said Ainge. “He was rated a little bit less than that with risk, but he was guy that we were looking at had he fallen.”
Asked directly if he would have selected Embiid, Ainge said, “Yes, we would’ve.”
One has to appreciate the honesty, though Marcus Smart, who ended up being the Celtics’ pick at No. 6, can’t be too thrilled with Ainge making it clear he wasn’t their first choice.
The fact remains that Embiid would have been a no-brainer pick by Boston. There’s certainly concerns about whether the Kansas big man will be able to stay healthy throughout his NBA career, as he’ll be sidelined for the next 4-6 months with a foot injury, but he remains an incredible talent.
He averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game throughout his long season in college and has the most upside among all the 2014 draft prospects. At the No.6 spot, the reward would have outweighed the risk by a long-shot.
Still, the Celtics have to be pleased with how Thursday unfolded. Smart was a terrific college player and is poised to be a solid NBA contributor for the next decade.