Rozier, Billups, Mercer, Kreklow, Hunter, drafted

On this day in Boston Celtics history, the legendary franchise took just one marquee player in the 1979 NBA draft, held in New York at the Plaza Hotel, after trading his first-round pick. The only player selected by the Celtics that year was 6-foot-4 shooter Wayne Kreklow, taken with the 53rd overall pick in the third round of the draft (drafts continued a lot longer than today).

A native of Neenah, Wis., Kreklow had played college ball at Drake before being drafted by Boston. He didn’t make the starting lineup, which isn’t unusual for a prospect drafted this late. But, instead of being waived, he would play one season with the Maine Lumberjacks of the Continental Basketball Association (the equivalent of the G League at that time), where he averaged 9.6 points per game.

Kreklow would join the team for the 1980-81 season, helping win a championship in a reserve role that earned him an average of 1.2 points in 25 games with the Celtics in his only season with the franchise.

AP Photo/Winslow Townson

It is also the anniversary of the 1997 NBA draft, which was held at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Celtics drafted three notable players after missing first overall pick Tim Duncan, who was selected by the San Antonio Spurs.

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With the third overall pick, Boston drafted goaltender Chauncey Billups from Colorado, but would have him traded before the end of his rookie season due to impatience from head coach and team president Rick Pitino.

Traded with Dee Brown, Roy Rogers and John Thomas to the Toronto Raptors for Kenny Anderson, Popeye Jones and Žan Tabak, Billups would record 11.1 points, 2.4 boards, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 51 games played with the Celtics.

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Boston would select Kentucky small forward Ron Mercer, a former Pitino player in his last stop, with the sixth pick. Perhaps that connection helped the winger stay longer, with Mercer averaging 15.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game over two seasons.

He would be traded with Popeye Jones and Dwayne Schintzius to the Denver Nuggets for Danny Fortson, Eric Washington, Eric Williams, and drafting considerations in 1999.

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With the 55th overall pick, the Celtics took 7-foot Australian center Ben Pepper from the Australian Newcastle Falcons of the National Basketball League (NBL).

Pepper would not make the team, but returned to the NBL where he had a long and successful career.

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The 2009 NBA Draft also took place today at the WaMu Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Boston selected only one player, point guard Lester Hudson of Tennessee-Martin.

Hudson split his rookie season between the Celtics and the Maine Red Claws (now, Maine Celtics), the developmental affiliate of the D League (as it was then known), averaging 1.4 points per game with the parent club before being cancelled.

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It’s also the anniversary of the 2015 NBA Draft, held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in which Boston took four marquee players. First up was Louisville guard Terry Rozier, selected 16th overall.

‘Scary Terry’ played four seasons with the Celtics, during which he averaged 7.7 points, 3.6 boards and 2.3 assists per game before being signed and traded to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Kemba Walker and draft considerations in 2019.

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Boston also selected shooter RJ Hunter from Georgia State with the 28th overall pick.

Hunter played 37 games for the Celtics over two seasons, averaging 3.1 points and one rebound with the team.

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Boston also drafted power forward Jordan Mickey out of LSU with the 33rd overall pick.

Mickey played two seasons for the Celtics — earning G League All-Star honors in his second season — between 2015 and 2017, averaging 1.4 points and 1.1 boards with the Celtics.

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Additionally, the Celtics took point guard Marcus Thornton with the 45th draft pick from Williams & Mary.

Thornton never played with the parent club, dispatching his rookie season with the Red Claws before going on to pursue a successful career in Europe.

Paul Pierce Celtics

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It’s the date in 2013 when the Celtics traded head coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers in a highly unusual deal that earned Boston a first-round pick.

The deal would have initially included veteran star Kevin Garnett for point guard Eric Bledsoe and big man DeAndre Jordan, but was canceled by commissioner David Stern due to league rules prohibiting the trading of players for coaches.

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This is also the date point guard Gerald Henderson, Sr. signed with the team as a free agent in 1979 after being drafted and waived by the San Antonio Spurs the previous year.

The Richmond native played 400 games for the Celtics in 5 seasons, becoming an important part on the way to winning two titles with the team and averaging 8.8 points, 1.6 boards, 2.8 assists and one steal per game.

It would be distributed to the (then) Seattle Supersonics (now, Oklahoma City Thunder) for pick which would be used to draft Len Bias in 1984.

Finally, it’s the birthday of winger Franks Kudelka, who played 27 games for Boston in the 1950-51 season before his contract was sold to the (now defunct) Baltimore Bullets in 1951.

Kudelka was born in San Francisco, California in 1925 and was signed by the (also defunct) Chicago Stags. When that team sank, it was picked up by the (also defunct) Washington Capitals, who would then be picked up by Boston.

He averaged 4.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game as a Celtic.

This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!

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