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NBA mock draft roundup: Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh popular potential Celtics selections

06.04.14 at 11:58 am ET
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Just three weeks from Thursday, the Celtics will have some important decisions to make regarding their future. The June 26 NBA draft is quickly approaching. And with pre-draft workouts in full swing, the rumors and predictions surrounding each team are growing.

Julius Randle

Julius Randle

Kevin Love became the story in Boston this week after his surprise visit to the city over the weekend. But what can’t be ignored is the arrival of some of the top college players in the country for the Celtics‘ workouts in Waltham this week.

The C’s have the No. 6 and 17 picks in this year’s draft. While many fans would like to see Boston trade one — or both — of these picks for a star addition such as Love, there are some names gaining traction in mock drafts as potential Celtics selections.

No. 6 — There’s no question the Celtics frontcourt could use a boost. And of the 13 mock drafts reviewed, nine of them expect the C’s to address that concern by selecting either Kentucky’s Julius Randle or Indiana’s Noah Vonleh.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Randle is predicted to fall to the Celtics in five mock drafts, including one by CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish. Parrish writes: “Think of all of the great freshmen who have played at Kentucky, then understand Randle recorded more double-doubles [24] this past season than any of them. His upside isn’t that of [Andrew Wiggins] or [Joel Embiid]. But Randle still projects as a possible future All-Star.”

Four mock drafts have Boston selecting the 6-foot-9, 247-pound Vonleh. A Haverhill native, Vonleh is not a finished product after just one year at Indiana, but he is considered by some to be a rim-protector with the ability to shoot. The Sports Network’s Jim Brighters writes: “The Celtics seems to have a glut of big men with Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Green, but the reality of this slot is that Vonleh is the best available player. Boston needs help shooting and maybe even a replacement for Rajon Rondo, if Danny Ainge moves him. Vonleh’s body needs work, but there are a lot of intangibles in his lean frame. Truthfully, this Indiana product is not that far from being ready, as he has a versatile game.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh,

NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Kentucky PF Julius Randle

06.04.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

Julius Randle

Julius Randle

JULIUS RANDLE

Position: Power forward
School: Kentucky
Age: 19
Height: 6-foot-9
Weight: 250 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-0

Key 2013-14 stats: 15 points, 10.4 rebounds, 24.5 PER

Scouting report: Randle is arguably the toughest player in this year’€™s draft because of his hard-nosed style on offense and his tenacity attacking the offensive and defensive boards.

He averaged 4.5 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes by constantly boxing out and overpowering his opponents, but also by hustling and racing to the spot of 50/50 balls. The 19-year-old constantly battles and will likely see this skill translate to the pros.

The Kentucky product also is an advanced ball-handler for his age, though he tends to only use his left hand. He’€™s a bull with the ball and utilizes spins and crossovers, which is unusual for a 250-pounder. In college, this allowed him to get to the rim at a high rate, though he’€™ll need to add a jumper to find that kind of success at the next level.

However, Randle is one of the poorest defenders in the draft. He constantly misses rotations off-ball and is unable to protect the rim because of his average wingspan and low basketball IQ. If Randle doesn’t develop offensively, it’€™s unlikely he’€™ll ever bring enough on the defensive end to carve out significant playing time.

Randle typically struggled in games with NBA-sized bigs, so his transition to the pros will take a little longer than most expect, but he probably does enough as a scorer and rebounder to find his niche.

How he fits: If the Celtics are looking to unload Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk, then Randle could potentially be an upgrade at the big man position. However, the number of mock drafts sending him to Boston is a bit curious considering the team’s current logjam at the position.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: The Randle Problem: Analyzing Julius Randle’s weaknesses on defense

Dean on Draft: Visibility bias and Julius Randle’€™s defense

Video: Here is a video explaining Randle’€™s lapses on defense.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Julius Randle, NBA

Chris Mannix on MFB: ‘Kevin [Love] knew exactly what he was doing when he went to Boston’

06.03.14 at 12:58 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Celtics and Kevin Love. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Love’s name has sparked trade rumors since the power forward made it clear that he does not plan to re-sign with Minnesota after next season. The Celtics are one of those teams that appear to be interested, which is why Mannix said it’s no coincidence he was spotted in Boston this past weekend.

“I think it’€™s worth getting excited about,” Mannix said. “I think that Kevin knew exactly what he was doing when he went to Boston. I grew up there, I love the town, but nobody vacations in Boston this time of year. The guy just finished a long season, why wouldn’t he go home to Washington state or go back to Southern California to take a break? I think there was a reason for that trip.

“Look, he’€™s made it clear through his representatives to Minnesota that he has no intentions of re-signing there after next season. They’€™re going to opt out of the contract and they’€™re going to look elsewhere for better opportunities. … I don’€™t think it happens before the draft, but sometime this offseason I wouldn’t be surprised if Kevin Love is moved.”

Mannix said he doesn’t expect Love to be dealt before the draft due to “salary cap ramifications.” But, he said Love’s trip to Boston was meant to “put a little more pressure on Minnesota to make a move.”

“I think there’€™s a subliminal message there. He’€™s putting it right in Flip Saunders‘€™ face,” Mannix said. “Look, Flip reacted to it somewhat negatively. … I don’€™t think they were entirely pleased with Kevin’€™s trip to Boston, the fanfare that it received. I guess if he wanted to he kind of could’ve flown under the radar, but he was at moments pause taking pictures with people, showing up at Red Sox games, taking a picture with Rajon Rondo, bumping into Rajon Rondo in the stadium. What are the odds that was a coincidence?” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chris Mannix, Kevin Love, Middays with MFB,

Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo, Don Draper, Kevin Love sales pitches

06.03.14 at 11:58 am ET
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When asked about his conversation with Timberwolves star Kevin Love at Fenway Park over the weekend, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo responded in typical Rondo fashion during an impromptu session with the Boston media as the C’s worked out a number of potential draft prospects in Waltham on Monday.

“I talked to Kevin for about 39 seconds,” said Rondo. “It wasn’t too long. We didn’t talk a lot.”

A lot can be said in 39 seconds. For example, “I love it here, and if you come to Boston, we’d instantly be a playoff team in the East. Danny Ainge knows how to build a championship team around All-Stars, so let’s do this.” That took less than 10 seconds. They could’ve still chatted about the weather and some restaurant recommendations.

“A pitch?” Rondo told reporters. “No, I think the only pitches that were thrown were by Jon Lester. He threw out a couple pitches. I didn’t pitch anything. I just told him to enjoy his time here.”

Not exactly a page out of Jordan Belfort‘s book. Rondo’s going to need to watch “Wolf of Wall Street” again.

“€œI trust a lot in Danny,”€ Rondo added. “€œHe’€™s turned this thing around before, so I don’€™t not have any faith in Danny. I believe in Danny. I think we do need another big-time player, but that’€™s all his job. He’€™s working on that now.”

I don’t not have any faith in Danny. A ringing endorsement! A little more Gordon Gekko this time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Kevin Love, NBA

Stephen A. Smith on D&C: ‘If Kevin Love wants to win, Boston is not the place to go right now’

06.03.14 at 10:15 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss Kevin Love, the Celtics and the NBA Finals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith

Love was spotted in Boston this past weekend on a tour of the city that included a trip to Fenway Park for Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays game. The Celtics have the assets to trade for Love, who reportedly wants out of Minnesota to play for a contender, but Smith said the odds are against Love ending up in Boston.

“Anything is possible, you can’€™t rule it out,” Smith said. “Danny Ainge has pulled off some heists in the past, we all know that. Not everybody is his friend like Kevin McHale was when he was in Boston and gift-wrapped Kevin Garnett. Regardless, you never know what he can pull off.

“In the end, however, Kevin Love says he wants to be with a contender. He mentioned Chicago, he mentioned Golden State. Boston simply doesn’t fall into that equation at this particular moment in time. It’€™s not something that I believe is plausible. … The Boston Celtics at this juncture are in a rebuilding mode and simply not good enough. If Kevin Love wants to win, Boston is not the place to go right now.”

What makes the Celtics worthy suitors for Love is their bevy of draft picks over the next five years thanks in large part to their blockbuster trade that sent Paul Pierce and Garnett to the Nets last summer. However, Smith sees Love as worth no more than “a first-round pick and a decent player or two on your roster.”

Love’s trip to Fenway on Sunday was capped off by a brief exchange with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. Acquiring Love to play with Rondo would undoubtedly make the Celtics a better team, but, according to Smith, not good enough to contend for a title. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dennis & Callahan, Kevin Love, Stephen A. Smith,

NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: France C Clint Capela

06.03.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

Clint Capela

Clint Capela

CLINT CAPELA

Position: Center
Country: France
Age: 20
Height: 6-foot-11
Weight: 222 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-4.5

Key 2013-14 stats (France Pro A League): 9.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks

Scouting report: Capela was considered a lottery pick before the Nike Hoop Summit in April, but he struggled and saw his stock drop to the back of the first round. There’€™s a chance he withdraws from the draft, since he could see his status increase next year, but if he stays, teams will start to think about him towards the middle of the first because of his potential as an elite rim protector and rebounder.

Only 20 years old, Capela led the French A League in PER (24.9), block percentage (7.9), and total rebound percentage (21.2) — remarkable numbers for his age, considering the he’s still immature physically. In a league full of men, he put up spectacular numbers because of his freakish athleticism and natural skills.

But Capela has a high chance of becoming a bust because of his incredibly low basketball IQ. Not every raw athletic international player develops as well as Serge Ibaka did, though he certainly has that type of upside.

In a deep draft full of talent, it’€™s easy to see Capela slipping, but the talent pool is also lacking defensive-oriented centers, which helps boost his stock despite the concerns.

How he fits: If the Celtics are looking at a slow rebuild, Capela would be a quality option with the 17th pick since they could draft-and-stash him before reaping the rewards in the future.

Related articles:

ESPN Insider: Nike Hoop Summit: Top prospects

Celtics.com: Clint Capela draft profile and interview

Video: Here is a video of Capela shining during a scrimmage.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Clint Capela, NBA

Irish Coffee: Boston and The Kevin Love Freedom Tour

06.02.14 at 10:40 am ET
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Indulge me for a moment. If you were Kevin Love, the hottest NBA name not still playing basketball, and you were looking for a vacation, as Timberwolves president suggested over the weekend, would you come to Boston?

Don’t get me wrong. The Freedom Trail, Fenway Park and Newbury Street make for a nice little weekend and all, but if you’re looking to escape the never-ending trade rumor mill, wouldn’t you prefer an all-inclusive resort in, say, Hawaii over clam chowder and a Sam Adams? He’s got a nine-figure payday coming soon, after all.

Hey, maybe he’s a nerd at heart, trying to discover analytics at Harvard that can take his game to the next level.

Maybe the folks at Newbury Comics hooked him up with an early copy of the new 50 Cent album dropping Tuesday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Love, NBA,
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