Best Pick — Larry Bird (No. 6, 1978)
The “Hick from French Lick” slipped a bit in the draft despite being regarded as one of the top collegiate players in the nation. Seizing the opportunity, the Celtics scooped up Bird sixth overall and wound up with one of the greatest players of all-time. Bird led Boston to three NBA titles while collecting three regular season MVP trophies along the way. While Bird’s value to the franchise is virtually unmatched (by anybody not named Bill Russell), the selections of Paul Pierce (No. 10, 1998) and Jayson Tatum (No. 3, 2017) have helped usher in new eras of Celtics basketball in their own right.
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Worst Pick — Ron Mercer (No. 6, 1997)
The Celtics aren’t a team that typically drafts near the top of the order. In the few instances Boston has selected in the top-10, they’ve proven to have a good track record in terms of evaluating potential prospects. Among their handful of blunders, selecting Ron Mercer sixth overall in 1997 is likely one the franchise would like to have back. Mercer was a quality starting shooting guard for eight seasons in the league, but only lasted two years in Boston before being traded for a group of role players and a future first-round pick (which later became first-round bust Kedrick Brown). The Celtics could have had Tracy McGrady with this selection, who was taken three picks later at No. 9.
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