Celtics Draft Pick: A History of Steals at No. 45 Overall

Goran Dragic Heat

Getty Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat handles the ball during a 202 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The night of the NBA draft isn’t just about picking the best developmental prospect or identifying future stars in the collegiate and/or international games. It’s also one of the biggest deal-making dates on the NBA calendar. So, in that sense, Boston Celtics fans could potentially have something big to look forward to on July 29.

Otherwise, draft night became significantly less interesting when the Celtics moved their first-round pick in the Kemba Walker trade last month. Consequently, the team was left only with its second-round pick at No. 45 overall. It’s a selection that’s far removed from where the top prospects will go off of the board.

However, that’s not to say that it’s a meaningless pick.

On the contrary, a number of quality NBA players began their pro careers by getting selected 45th overall. In the last few years alone, the Memphis Grizzlies have hit on Dillon Brooks (by way of the Houston Rockets), while the Oklahoma City Thunder scored a steal with Hamidou Diallo (via the Brooklyn Nets).

Meanwhile, former Celtic Dwight Powell’s time in Beantown was brief, but he has grown into a role as a key rotational player for the Dallas Mavericks.

A Hall of Famer Was Picked 45th Overall

Bob Dandridge reflects on Bucks' last title team, Hall of Fame voteBob Dandridge played for the last Milwaukee Bucks team to win the NBA championship in 1971. The Norfolk State legend looks back at playing for that team, and what it means to finally be voted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.2021-07-07T00:41:36Z

Hitting pay dirt at No. 45 isn’t just a recent phenomenon, though. Way back in 1969, the Milwaukee Bucks plucked a future Hall of Famer in Bob Dandridge from the ether with the pick.

The Norfolk State wing went on to play 13 seasons in the Association from ’69 to 1982, making four All-Star teams and scoring more than 15,000 career points. He was an 18-plus point scorer on two NBA title teams, first with the Bucks in 1971 and then with the Washington Bullets in 1978.

He finally received his HOF induction in 2021.

Three years before Dandridge entered the league, big man John Beasley was a 45th overall pick. And while he eschewed the NBA to join the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals, he made three All-Star teams in a seven-year career and was the MVP of the ’69 ABA All-Star Game.

Although it’s not an every-year occurrence, teams striking it big at No. 45 has continued on throughout the years, too.

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No. 45 Picks Who Have Broken Out Going Back to the 1980s

Here’s a look at some historical picks at No. 45 who have gone on to have enduring, successful careers in the Association.

Since the year 2000, we have:

  • Hamidou Diallo (2018): Splitting time with the Detroit Pistons and OKC, put up 11.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG last season.
  • Dillon Brooks (2017): Averaged 17.2 PPG as a fourth-year pro for the Memphis Grizzlies in ’20-21.
  • Dwight Powell (2014): The former Celtic has averaged 7.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG over seven seasons to date.
  • Goran Dragic (2008): An All-Star in 2018 who has put up 13.9 PPG and 4.8 APG over 867 career games so far.
  • Lou Williams (2005): Williams is a three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year who has played in 1,000-plus games, averaging 14.3 PPG and 3.5 APG.
  • Matt Bonner (2003): Played 12 years as a backup big man, averaging 5.8 PPG and hitting on 41.4% of his three-point shots. Won a ring with the Spurs.

And during the ’80s and ’90s:

  • Bryon Russell (1993): 3-and-D specialist who averaged 7.9 PPG and 1.0 SPG during a 13-year career, while making 36.9% of his triples. Started for two NBA finals teams.
  • Bobby Phills (1991): One of the better two-guards in the NBA and an All-Defensive Team pick before his death in 2000. Logged an 11-3-3 line and made 39.0% of his threes over nine seasons.
  • Antonio Davis (1990): A 2001 All-Star with the Raptors, Davis averaged 10.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 1.0 BPG over 903 career games.
  • Brad Lohaus (1987): An 11-year pro, Lohaus was an early floor-stretching big, making 40% or more of his threes twice. Averaged 5.9 PPG and 2.8 RPG.
  • Hot Rod Williams (1985): Played in nearly 900 career contests, averaging 11.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 1.6 BPG.

While not all of these players are/were stars, they’re all players who did good things at the NBA level and were consistent contributors for a long time. With a late second-round pick, getting somebody who can pull that off is a major win.

And if history is any indication, there’s a real chance that the Celtics can find a diamond in the rough on Thursday.


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