Austin Ainge: 'Good depth and talent' at this year's NBA draft combine

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston

Austin Ainge: 'Good depth and talent' at this year's NBA draft combine originally appeared on

CHICAGO -- Having a trio of first-round picks is usually something to celebrate for an NBA team.

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Still, for the Celtics, this has become more of the norm than an anomaly with Boston using the NBA draft combine to search out talent with picks No. 14, 20 and 22 at their disposal.

This will be the fourth time in the past six years that the Celtics have had multiple first-round picks. 

And it could have been more if the Memphis Grizzlies' pick, which will be No. 2 overall, had fallen out of the top-8.

"We're glad to only have three picks," Austin Ainge, Celtics director of player personnel, told NBC Sports Boston. "We're glad the fourth [Memphis pick] rolled over [to 2020 or '21] to space them out. It's always good to have first-round picks, but it's better to have them in multiple years than to have them all in one year. We are excited about this draft. There's some good depth and talent there."

And talent is definitely something the Celtics are in the market for. They may have several holes to fill between now and the start of next season.

While much of the attention involving the Celtics has centered around Kyrie Irving and his impending free agency, he's one of seven potential Boston players who will be either unrestricted or restricted free agents this summer.

"As they say, need is a bad evaluator. So, we don't take that into account too much," Ainge said. "You also don't count on rookies changing your whole roster, right? You usually start with the top free agents and your returning guys and fill in with rookies at the end. We'll be taking the best players."

But part of that also involves avoiding duplication, which may result in the Celtics selecting a player that might be a notch or two below another on their draft board, but in doing so prevents them from taking a pair of similarly-skilled players.

"The one thing about having three picks, you can't take three shooting guards," Ainge said. "You just can't develop them. You can't take three centers. So, we'll have to take that into account a little bit as we go forward."

The same can be said for the interview portion of the combine, which has varying levels of value, depending on the perspective of a particular franchise.

"It's just a small portion," Ainge said. "Most of these kids play at big programs and have done interviews their whole lives. So we have a good backlog. We like to ask about some specific questions we have. We do a lot of background research and we ask about what happened here, what about after this tough loss; what about this incident you had."

Ainge said the interview is a factor in their evaluation process but not a major one.

With the camp winding down, Ainge has a clear vision for what would make for a successful combine for the Celtics.

"For us, if we can break any ties that would be great," Ainge said. "If out here on the court, if some of the guys we liked play poorly so they fall to us that would nice, too. But you don't want to put too much stock in the combine, so we try to keep it in perspective as part of [a player's] whole career."

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