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Report: Celtics to work out Croatian draft prospect Dragan Bender

06.07.16 at 12:33 pm ET
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Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

According to a published report, the Celtics have scheduled a workout with Croatian big man Dragan Bender, whom they could potentially select with the third overall pick.

Bleacher Report’s David Pick reports via twitter that Bender will visit the Celtics, Suns, and Timberwolves in the U.S.

The Celtics have already scouted Bender in Israel, where he’s playing professionally. Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said watching him in a practice environment and playing one-on-one against his younger brother, Ivan, a Maryland recruit, provided a better look at his skills.

“We had a 1-on-none and a 1-on-1 type of workout with his brother,” Ainge told reporters. “Actually, [Ivan] will be playing at Maryland next year. He’s a 6-10 kid. And then we watched [Dragan] in a full-team practice, which we actually thought was better than a game because we’d seen all his games. We’d seen him play in person in games and, because he’s not playing a major role as an 18-year-old in a tough Israeli league, we were able to watch him practice. And we thought that was more beneficial than what we’d seen in games.”

The 7-foot-1 center is considered a project because of his age and experience, but he’s also one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, thanks to his shooting ability and athleticism. While there had been rumors of the Lakers’ interest at No. 2, which would’ve upended the draft, Pick recently reported that L.A. will stick with Duke’s Brandon Ingram at No. 2.

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Celtics, Dragan Bender, No. 3 pick

NBA draft prospect profile: Spain F Juan Hernangomez

06.07.16 at 9:24 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

JUAN HERNANGOMEZ

Position: Forward

Country: Spain (Estudiantes)

Age: 20 (turns 21 on Sept. 28)

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 220 pounds

Wingspan: n/a

Key 2015-16 stats: 9.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 35.8 3-point field goal percentage

Scouting report: Hernangomez had a solid season in 2015-16 that catapulted his draft stock. Playing in the highly regarded Spanish ACB league, he displayed impressive numbers for a player his age. He sometimes struggled to defend in the ACB, but he was facing older opponents who had physical advantages. He also played a lot of center, while he’s projected as more of a stretch four or perhaps even a small forward in the NBA.

Playing on one of the ACB’s weaker teams, Hernangomez took advantage of his opportunity for playing time, demonstrating an ability to hit the outside shot but also showing excellent mobility. He was especially effective in the pick-and-roll, either popping out for a jumper, driving to the basket or distributing the ball. He averaged 5.6 free throw attempts per 40 minutes, a solid average for a big.

Critics point to Hernangomez’s sometimes questionable decision-making — throwing risky passes and trying to do too much offensively, while gambling too much on defense — and question whether he projects to be anything but a role player in the NBA.

Hernangomez is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second. With the Celtics having picks to spare, he’s exactly the type of gamble worth taking — a promising youngster they can stash in Europe for another year or two while he continues to develop. His contract with Estudiantes is up, so he has the option of heading to North America now (likely starting in the D-League) or staying in Europe and perhaps signing with a stronger team for a year or two.

Notes: Hernangomez’s father, Guillermo Hernangomez Heredero, was a power forward in the ACB in the 1980s, and his brother, Willy, is a 6-foot-10 backup center for Real Madrid who was selected 35th overall last year — by the 76ers, who then traded him to the Knicks — and is expected to head to the States in the next year or two. Hernangomez was named to the all-tournament team at the U-20 European Championships last summer.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Juan Hernangomez will find a role

CBS Sports: Getting to know the top 10 international players

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Juan Hernangomez,

Brad Stevens sings praise of Avery Bradley: ‘You could make a strong case for him to be defensive player of year’

06.06.16 at 6:18 pm ET
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Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley

WALTHAM – If Brad Stevens has anything to say about it, Avery Bradley and his $8 million per year salary isn’t going anywhere this offseason. 

The Celtics coach spoke for the first time since the star defensive guard was chosen first-team NBA all-defense last week. 

“I think it was clearly deserved. I think that you could make a strong case for him to be Defensive Player of the Year or in consideration for that because he is so versatile in his ability to defend guards,” Stevens said after the second of two pre-draft workouts Monday in Waltham. 

The Defensive Player of the Year award went to the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, who won the honor for a second straight year. 

But that didn’t keep Stevens from pointing out that Bradley could arguably be placed among the best defensive guards in basketball. 

“I think if you polled the guards in the NBA, really 1 through 3, Avery’s name would come up a lot,” Stevens added. “So, obviously it’s against great competition. The guys who got honored all deserve it. But I don’t think it’s as simple as saying there’s one Defensive Player of the Year when you have somebody of Avery’s caliber and his ability to impact the game.”

Stevens said that he has been in contact with Bradley, and that rehab on his right hamstring is coming along after straining it badly in Game 1 against the Hawks, forcing him to miss the rest of the playoffs.   

“I don’t have an update on where he is in the physical rehab part, but obviously after he won the award we communicated, and he’s getting better,” Stevens said. 

Bradley’s name could come up in trade talk at some point this summer, as he is not only considered one of the more underrated guards in the league, he is affordably priced. Bradley is entering the third year of a four-year contract totaling $32 million.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens,

Brad Stevens says ‘there’s seven or eight guys’ targeted for the No. 3 pick

06.06.16 at 4:51 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  The Celtics are beginning to narrow down their potential choices for the No. 3 spot in the draft. 

Brad Stevens acknowledged Monday that he is watching video clips of all the possibilities and discussing their strengths with his staff. 

“I’ve got a good idea when I talk to Danny and the front office about who they are really targeting and focused on, as far as, again, there’s seven or eight guys,” Stevens said after Monday’s doubleheader workout that involved 12 players from college and Europe.

The names that come to mind most frequently after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown (who worked out last Wednesday), Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn and Jamaal Murray. 

But what Stevens made clear is that, with eight picks overall, including five in the second round, the Celtics have to be ready to pick wherever and whenever, depending on what deals may or may not be made. 

“We’ve got so many picks that you can’t stop there,” Stevens added. “Whether you’re watching clips, individual clips or highlight films or whatever the case may be, what I like to do is I like to watch full-game footage, and specifically end-of-game footage on a lot of different guys. We have so many picks, any game you turn on, almost might include somebody, so it’s pretty good.”

Austin Ainge joked that Stevens asked, as part of his new contract, that he not have eight rookies to coach next season. Stevens, appreciating the humor, said the number of picks doesn’t make the job any easier in terms of evaluation.

“I don’t know about easier. I think it’s hard any time you’ve got the volume of potential picks that we have and all that goes with that. I think that, again, my job is just to give an opinion when asked,” Stevens said. “So those guys have been watching all year. Those guys know what they are looking for, who they are looking at. Again, these workouts, I think, sometimes help validate some things for them. They are probably more beneficial for our staff because we haven’t seen guys as much, specifically we haven’t seen guys live.”

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens,

NBA draft prospect profile: France SG Isaia Cordinier

06.06.16 at 3:41 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

ISAIA CORDINIER

Position: Shooting guard

Country: France (Denain)

Age: 19 (turns 20 on Nov. 28)

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 177 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-8

Key 2015-16 stats: 10.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Scouting report: There’s no denying that Cordinier has the freakish athleticism that has become almost commonplace in the NBA. A projected mid-second-round pick, he can make plays both above the rim and in transition, and uses his burst and leaping ability to throw it down in style. He also can connect from deep with a fundamentally sound jump shot, and can change direction and speed with the ball like a pro. He’s a gifted passer who also has quick feet on defense, though that area of his game may need more work. Finally, Cordinier has shown he’s a great teammate, as he’s often vocal while on the court and is there for his team when it needs him.

The biggest concern so far with Cordinier is his physicality. He was a thin body and a narrow frame, and his length and size isn’t all that impressive for a shooting guard. He lacks the physical tools to impress on the defensive end, something that Cordinier himself admitted to having to work in an interview with DraftExpress in February.

“I need to develop my body,” Cordinier said. “With time, that will come. It is not the most important thing. I need to keep working on my dribble, and my shot. Being more aggressive with drives, shooting, and passing the ball.”

Notes: Cordinier played for Denain, a team in France’s second division, before entering his name in the draft. He shot 40 percent from deep in 32 games after shooting just 25 percent on 3-pointers last year. Cordinier’s father, Stéphane, was an Olympic handball player for France.

Related articles:

CBS sports: Flashy son of an Olympian from Europe has shot at first round in NBA draft

USA Today: French prospect has league executives intrigued

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, isaia cordinier,

Austin Ainge: ‘Still too early’ to say how active trade market will be in draft

06.06.16 at 2:00 pm ET
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Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge speaks Monday to reporters in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge speaks Monday to reporters in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WALTHAM  –  Austin Ainge is very aware of how much interest there is in what moves the Celtics might be making leading up to the June 23 draft or in the immediate aftermath. 

On Monday, the Celtics brought in 12 more players for pre-draft workouts, six apiece in two sessions. The workouts featured two from Kansas (Perry Ellis, Hunter Mickelson) and two from Brad Stevens’ old employer – Butler (Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones). 

With just over two weeks left before the draft, where does this leave the Celtics? 

“I don’t know. I think that each one of us would give you a different answer on our staff,” said Ainge, the team’s director of player personnel. “We have so many picks and trade possibilities and all these other things that we’ve all been talking about all summer. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Ainge said he and his dad don’t yet have a good gauge on how active other teams might be in the days leading up to the draft. 

“Not really. Not yet. Still too early. People are still trying to figure out who they like in different pick ranges and how valuable they are and what they might want to trade for,” Ainge said. “If you fall in love with a guy, maybe you should try to move up. We’re all just trying to figure out our own draft boards, still. I think it’s early for trades.” 

The Celtics also worked out two players from France (Isaia Cordinier, Guerschon Yabuele) and one from Spain (Jordan Sakho). 

“We really enjoy it. Get to know their level of English and get them outside of their systems a little bit, compare them against some of the college guys. I think it’s very valuable.” 

What are they looking for from the European kids? 

“Really, the same stuff as the college guys. We look for just how they’ll fit with the Celtics and get to know their personalities a little bit,” Ainge said. “Obviously, most of the things we judge them on we see in the games but this is a just a nice little piece. It is hard for young guys to earn minutes on professional teams sometimes. Sometimes we have a limited number of minutes we’ve seen them. This is always good to have them here.

“It’s case-by-case basis. We sit down with the coaches and discuss what we’d like to see from each guy in the workout. We put them in different situations to try to probe some of those strengths and weaknesses.” 

 

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Austin Ainge, Boston Celtics, Guerschon Yabusele

NBA draft prospect profile: Washington PF Marquese Chriss

06.06.16 at 12:49 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

MARQUESE CHRISS

Position: Power forward

School: Washington

Age: 18 (turns 19 on July 2)

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 233 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-0

Key 2015-16 stats: 13.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists

Scouting report: Seemingly out of nowhere, Marquese Chriss has exploded onto the NBA draft scene. The power forward was left off many mock drafts before the college basketball season, but over the course of the year Chriss impressed NBA scouts enough with his raw athletic ability, quickness, explosiveness and body control that he now is projected as a lottery pick — possibly even as high as No. 3. Draftexpress.com noted, “Chriss is one of the most physically gifted prospects you’ll find.”

“I had a stretch where I was playing really well and people started talking and there was a little buzz around,” Chriss told the Seattle Times about when the NBA became a reality. “People were noticing and embracing it, I guess. That’s when I kind of thought, ‘OK, this is going to happen.’ It happened a little quicker than I thought, to be honest.”

While Chriss possesses natural abilities that NBA teams hope they can mold into a potential star, there are several major flaws in his game that many thought would make Chriss want to stay at Washington for another year to improve. Chriss often shied away from finishing at the rim with his left hand. In addition, he struggled passing the ball and was described as having “tunnel vision” when he did receive the rock. Defensively, Chriss will have to put forth a better effort. He only averaged 2.9 defensive rebounds this past season, and when playing defense Chriss sometimes looked disinterested. This led to Chriss being target in defensive isolation situations. Chriss also will need to cut down on fouling in the NBA. Last season he fouled out in 15 of 35 games and had four fouls in 10 other games. 

Notes: Coming out of high school Chriss was ranked by Rivals.com as the 62nd-best recrcuit. If Chriss is selected in the lottery, he will be only the fifth lottery pick since 2000 to be a non-top 25 high school recruit to leave college after one season.

Related articles:

The Seattle Times: Marquese Chirss explains why he’s leaving Washington and opting for NBA draft

SB Nation: Marquese Chriss is the boom-or-bust prospect in the 2016 NBA draft

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Marquese Chriss,
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