2023 NBA Draft Lottery: Celtics benefitting from 2017 victory with Jayson Tatum

NBA Draft Lottery: Celtics benefitting greatly from 2017 victory with Tatum originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The 2023 NBA Draft Lottery will take place Tuesday night before the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets play Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

It's one of the most anticipated draft lotteries in a long, long time.

The top prospect in the 2023 class is French phenom Victor Wembanyama, who many scouts project to be a generational talent. He's 7-foot-2 and can shoot, handle the ball and play defense at a high level, among many other abilities. Wembanyama has the ability to significantly alter the course of a franchise for a decade or more.

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ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski summed up the Wembanyama hype Tuesday afternoon on "NBA Today".

The Boston Celtics don't have a great history in the lottery. They've participated in the event 11 times with their own pick, and they've never won the No. 1 selection in those instances.

The 1997 lottery was a tough one for Boston. They had the second-best chance to win the top pick, as well as a chance to earn the No. 1 and No. 2 picks. Instead, they ended up with No. 3 and No. 6, thus missing out on a chance to draft Wake Forest star Tim Duncan. Duncan, of course, went on to win five championships with the San Antonio Spurs, who won the 1997 lottery.



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The 2007 lottery was painful for the C's, too. They had the second-best chance to win the No. 1 pick with top prospects Greg Oden and Kevin Durant at stake. The Celtics shockingly dropped to the No. 5 pick. They ended up trading that selection in a package to the Seattle SuperSonics for Ray Allen. The C's acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves in another trade shortly after the Allen deal, and together with Paul Pierce, Boston's new "Big Three" won a title in 2007-08. So, in the end, it worked out for the Celtics, but few could have predicted all of that happening on lottery night.

Here's a recap of the Celtics' lottery history with their own picks:

  • 1986: Pre-lottery position No. 5, actual pick No. 2

  • 1994: Pre-lottery position No. 9, actual pick No. 9

  • 1997: Pre-lottery position No. 2 and No. 6, actual picks No. 3 and No. 6

  • 1998: Pre-lottery position No. 10, actual pick No. 10

  • 1999: Pre-lottery position No. 7, actual pick No. 8

  • 2000: Pre-lottery position No. 11, actual pick No. 11

  • 2001: Pre-lottery position No. 10, actual pick No. 10

  • 2006: Pre-lottery position No. 7, actual pick No. 7

  • 2007: Pre-lottery position No. 2, actual pick No. 5

  • 2014: Pre-lottery position No. 5, actual pick No. 6

The Celtics also have been in the lottery via other teams' picks. This most recently happened in 2016 and 2017 when the Celtics ended up in the lottery because they owned the Brooklyn Nets' first-round picks (or the right to swap picks) from the famous 2013 trade involving Pierce and Garnett.

The Celtics had the third-best chance to win the 2016 lottery and stayed at No. 3 overall. They drafted Jaylen Brown out of California -- which was a few spots higher than many mock drafts predicted. In 2017, the Celtics won the lottery for the first time in franchise history using the Nets' pick. They traded the No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick plus a future selection. The C's took Jayson Tatum at No. 3.

Tatum and Brown made the first and second All-NBA teams, respectively, this season. Tatum scored a Game 7 record 51 points when the Celtics eliminated the Sixers from the second round Sunday afternoon. They are two of the top 15 players in the sport, and both were acquired by Boston through some lottery luck.


The winning team in the draft lottery isn't always so lucky, though. Since the lottery was first held in 1985, only the Spurs (Tim Duncan, 1997; David Robinson, 1987) and Cleveland Cavaliers (LeBron James, 2003) have won a championship with the player they selected No. 1 overall the year they won the lottery. In James' case, he left the Cavs for four years before returning to win the franchise its first title in 2016.

If the Celtics win the 2023 NBA championship, they'll do so with three of their own lottery picks (Marcus Smart at No. 6 in 2014, Brown at No. 3 in 2016 and Tatum at No. 3 in 2017).