So this is what it's like to be the New England Patriots.
Most of the time draft day isn't so much a holiday as it is a relaxing vacation day. You pick last in the first round because of the previous season's success, and you go to draft day with a relaxing, content glow about you.
The record says the happy-go-lucky Boston Celtics have one first-round pick tonight, the 30th and last choice of the first round.
But upon further review, they have a bonus first round pick, who will probably be better than the guy they get tonight.
His name is Gabe Pruitt.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Yup. That's the guy the Celtics drafted 32nd overall last year out of USC.
That's the same guy who rode the pine in between a few trips to the National Basketball Development League's Utah Flash, the Celtics' minor league co-affiliate with the Utah Jazz.
Pruitt left USC after his junior season, hoping for the gold of the guaranteed first-round contract. Instead he got Celtics' green instead, and probably not as much "green" as he expected in salary.
Pruitt could have played this past season with freshman phenom O.J. Mayo at USC, and likely improved his draft status considerably.
If you were lucky to attend Celtics playoff games at the TD Banknorth Garden the last two months, you saw Pruitt working out, and I mean working out, with ex-Celtic Dana Barros for an hour each time.
Because of the Celtics' success, Pruitt was a footnote. He was last on the depth chart, behind even Scot Pollard when Pollard was healthy.
The difference between Pruitt and Pollard is that Pruitt's best days are ahead of him.
Pruitt, who was academically ineligible for the first 11 games of his final season at SC, averaged 18.8 points per game in two stints with the Flash.
"I believe the Celtics have a player who could be very, very good in the NBA," said Flash coach Brad Jones, a former scout with the Utah Jazz. "He can play both guard positions, point and shooting guard. He's got a nice touch. He plays defense. He's lightning quick. The only thing he needs to do, especially at the NBA level, is be consistent. If he does ..."
Flash general manager David Fredman said that Pruitt's development from the first time they had him by the time he left in early April was astounding.
"He worked his tail off," said Fredman. "He matured a lot in just one year. I think he came back here the second time with more of a sense or urgency and consistency. We are all big Gabe Pruitt fans here in Utah. I believe he's going to be a player in the NBA. ... Danny Ainge stole him in the second round."
We've heard that last comment before. Ryan Gomes (50th overall in 2005), Leon Powe (49th overall in 2006) and Glen "Big Baby" Davis (35th overall in 2007), all fellow second-round picks, all played direct or indirect roles in this stunning championship season.
The 6-4, 170-pound Pruitt might be the backup point guard the Celtics will be looking to for this upcoming season. The playoffs proved they have a major need for a competent back-up to Rajon Rondo. He might be the shooting guard who could replace Eddie House's blazing quick jump shot.
While the L.A. native was not activated for the playoffs, he apparently took notes.
"What an experience it was," said Pruitt. "It was an incredible team to watch. It was fun just going to practice watching these guys work and go at each other. I can't wait for next year."
Pruitt will head home for a short vacation in Los Angeles before coming back for full-time off-season duty in Waltham.
"This is his draft class," said Ainge. "He would be a first round pick in this draft ... There isn't any one thing he can't do. He just needs to be more consistent. Hopefully, that will happen from being around these guys for the playoffs."
Fredman says his respect for Pruitt grew exponentially near the end of the Flash's season when Ainge requested Pruitt return to Boston as they prepared for the playoffs in early April.
"We had three games left and were making a run to qualify for the playoffs," said Fredman. "Gabe called up Danny and asked if he could stay to play the last few games, to help us out. Danny said OK. We ended up just missing the playoffs, but that meant a lot. If you ask me, Gabe really fits the Celtic mold."
E-mail Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out his blog, "Burt Talks Sports," at blogs.eagletribune.com/sports.
Hit or miss
The Celtics pick 30th tonight. Here are recent choices at No. 30.
2007%Petteri Koponen%Philadelphia%Currently playing in Finland
2006%Joel Freeland%Portland%Currently playing in Spain
2005%David Lee%New York%A steal for the Knicks
2004%Anderson Varejao%Orlando%Tough guy forward for Cavs
2003%Maciej Lampe%New York%Plummeted in draft and never did much
2002%Roger Mason%Chicago%Had strong year off the bench for Wizards
2001%Gilbert Arenas%Golden State%One of NBA's top pure scorers
2000%Marko Jaric%L.A. Clippers%Averaged 8.0 points last season for T'Wolves
1999%John Celestand%L.A. Lakers%Only played 16 NBA games
Ainge's second-round hits
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has had some great second-round finds over the last three drafts. Here are four of them:
2005 — Ryan Gomes (50th overall)
2006 — Leon Powe (49th)
2007 — Gabe Pruitt (32nd), Glen Davis (35th)