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Danny Ainge Says He Would Not Have Drafted Rajon Rondo Without Pre-Draft Meeting

(David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

(David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Without combines, interviews, or individual workouts, the 2020 NBA Draft is going to be as uninformed as we’ve seen in a long time.

With 30 professional basketball franchises on the brink of spending millions of dollars on teenagers, being able to see these potential franchise-changing hoopers is critical. Without it, everyone starts to play the guessing game. For a future lottery pick out of Kentucky such as Tyrese Maxey, this isn’t all that much of an issue compared to others. The majority of mock drafts have Maxey being selected within the top 14 picks.

But for the Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards types – players whose draft stock ranges anywhere from the late first round to going undrafted – one missed interview with a front office member could be the difference between being drafted and being passed up. Just ask Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who recently said he wouldn’t have drafted former Kentucky guard Rajon Rondo had he not been able to “look him in the eyes.”

Here is exactly what Ainge had to say about eventually drafting Rondo, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports:

“Let’s use Rajon Rondo as an example,” Ainge said on the call about this year’s draft process. “Had I not been able to meet with him and look into his eyes, I don’t think I would have drafted him. At the same time, we drafted Avery Bradley without any draft workouts. You don’t always get guys in.”

Ainge eventually did draft Rondo after securing a draft-day trade with the Phoenix Suns, who had the 21st pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. It ended up working out for both Rondo and Ainge, as the Celtics won the 2008 NBA Title. Had Rondo been forced to go through a similar process that Quickley, Richards, Ashton Hagans, and EJ Montgomery are going through right now, it sounds like he doesn’t land with the Celtics and probably doesn’t win that ring.

What if Ainge ends up passing up on someone like Hagans because he doesn’t get to interview him?

NBA front offices don’t have many ways to access new information that might swing them in the direction of taking one player instead of another. Utilizing old game film is going to be more prevalent in the pre-draft process than it has been in some time, if not ever. For someone like Montgomery, who doesn’t have an impressive stockpile of old game film to work with, those extra one-on-one interviews and workouts with different franchises would have given him the chance to surprise those people. For Quickley, the SEC Player of the Year, his draft stock is only going to keep going up.

Now Ainge did go on to say that he also drafted players such as Avery Bradley and two-time MVP Steve Nash (back when Ainge worked with the Suns) without pre-draft interviews. So this could go both ways. But we know that one way or the other, somebody is going to be penalized solely because they never had the chance to showcase themselves in front of the coaches and scouts. Will it just so happen to be a former Wildcat?

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

8 Comments for Danny Ainge Says He Would Not Have Drafted Rajon Rondo Without Pre-Draft Meeting

  1. dcforuk
    9:27 pm April 24, 2020 Permalink

    Speaking of the draft, I am watching the NFL draft. There are 32 teams. The first round had 32 picks. The 2nd round had 32 picks. The 3rd round has 42 picks. Anyone have color on this?

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:38 pm April 24, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t know but Lynn Bowden just got picked at #80 over all by the Raiders! Come see about it!

    • Ez21
      7:21 am April 25, 2020 Permalink

      Supplemental picks are added starting w the 3rd rd I think.

  2. sharpshooter81
    10:15 pm April 24, 2020 Permalink

    Where are KSR writers getting their NBA draft information? I just looked at three draft stock predictions and Quickley is late second round to going undrafted. But this article keeps saying his draft stock is only going up. Do your research before writing unfounded information.

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:41 pm April 24, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t know about that but one of the KSR writers said Bowden would go higher than people think and he was right!!!!

  3. UKiyaoyas
    10:16 pm April 24, 2020 Permalink

    They’ll pass on Hagans even with an interview.

  4. ibescootch
    12:27 am April 25, 2020 Permalink

    Why is this even a thing? I wouldn’t hire someone to work for me based solely on their resume, so why are we pretending that these teams won’t have methods of interviewing and assessing players they like? They can’t send the kid to a local gym for a workout that’s taped? You’re telling me they’re not going to jump on a Zoom call like the rest of the world, while considering giving several million a year to a guy?!

    I don’t buy it.

  5. Bluebloodtoo
    3:43 am April 25, 2020 Permalink

    Most of these guys had workouts and meetings with teams last year during their exploration process. Some teams have already met them.