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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Arizona F Aaron Gordon

05.27.14 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.

AARON GORDON

Position: Forward
School: Arizona
Age: 18
Height: 6-foot-9
Weight: 220 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot

Key 2013-14 stats: 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 35.6 3P%, 42.2 FT%

Scouting report: While 18-year-olds usually don’€™t come to the NBA ready to defend at a high level, Aaron Gordon could be the exception. He is one of the best athletes in the draft, possessing outstanding lateral quickness and length, which will allow him to defend at least three positions. But it’€™s his off-ball awareness that puts him in proper positioning when it comes to rotations and weakside help. This versatility and reliability gives him the defensive potential of a Shawn Marion, Gerald Wallace or even Andrei Kirilenko.

Gordon’€™s abominable free throw percentage will get a lot of press, as it should; he was terrible from the line, shooting only 42.2 percent. But his form isn’t that bad, and a player with his work ethic should be able to fix it by the time his rookie contract is over.

Other than that, the 6-foot-9 forward brings fantastic offensive tools to the pros. He’€™s exceptional at moving off-ball, often finding his way to the rim as a result of dive cuts, transition and screens. Gordon appears to have a great sense of spacing, which also helps him with the ball in his hands; he’€™s a very good ball handler and passer, which gives him potential as a pick-and-roll playmaker. Of course, Gordon must develop his shot, but his 35.6 3-point percentage, solid mechanics and youth give him great upside.

How he fits: Gordon could very well be the steal of the draft if he develops a reliable shot. The C’s could really use a “do-it-all” player at the wing, and Gordon may be the best option for them at the sixth pick.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Six options at the sixth pick for Boston

CBS Sports: Aaron Gordon’s stellar upside

Video: Here is a video of  Gordon’€™s top 10 plays this season.

(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, Aaron Gordon, Boston Celtics, NBA

NBA draft’s Potential Celtics: Serbia G Bogdan Bogdanovic

05.26.14 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.

BOGDAN BOGDANOVIC

Position: Guard
Country: Serbia
Age: 21
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 200 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2013-14 stats (Euroleague): 14.8 points, 3.7 assists, 37.0 3P%

Scouting report: Don’€™t be fooled by his redundant name, because Bogdan Bogdanovic brings a unique set of skills that make him attractive to NBA teams. Most notable of all is his deep 3-point range. The 6-foot-6 Serbian is able to shoot well as a spot-up threat, and he’€™s even more of a threat off the dribble. He has fantastic footwork and gets his shots off cleanly due to his long 83-inch wingspan.

Bogdanovic played point guard for Partizan Belgrade, so he has years of experience making plays for others. Though he projects as a 2-guard in the NBA, his proficiency will likely translate to success as a secondary pick-and-roll ball handler. When you factor in his shooting stroke, Bogdanovic projects as a true half-court threat whether he has the ball in his hands or not.

However, Bogdanovic can be a bit sloppy with the ball and has made some bad passing and shooting decisions. Some of the poor shot choices may have been by design, since he was arguably Partizan’€™s best player, but it will be important for teams to assess his psychological profile in order to find out if these decisions were as a result of his team environment or his own personality.

Because Bogdanovic has a long wingspan, he will be able to effectively defend many NBA wings. But he must improve his lateral quickness and his defensive intensity if he wants to take his two-way game to the next level. Overall, Bogdanovic is a quality player who will likely find success in the NBA as a contributing scorer with occasional high-output performances.

How he fits: Knockdown 3-point shooting comes at a premium in the NBA, and Bogdanovic’s shooting stroke would give the Celtics a valuable scorer that can play both guard positions. Bogdanovic could likely be selected if Boston decided to trade for an additional late first-round draft pick.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Adriatic League final four analysis

EP: Bogdan Bogdanovic on the way to being a PG

Video: Here is a highlight reel of Bogdanovic scoring 27 points against CSKA Moscow.

(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, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Boston Celtics, NBA

NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan St. PF Adreian Payne

05.23.14 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.

ADREIAN PAYNE

Position: Power forward
School: Michigan State
Age: 23
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 239 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-4

Key 2013-14 stats: 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 42.3 3P%

Scouting report: Almost every NBA team can use a near 7-footer that hustles, plays with grit, and can shoot 3-pointers at an efficient rate.  Payne brings all of these traits and then some. The fourth-year big man from Michigan State has outstanding shooting mechanics, as he frequently utilizes “the hop” to get his perimeter attempts off quickly.

Because of his athleticism, Payne is also a terrific finisher at the basket (68 percent, according to Hoop-Math). He plays above the rim and is able to get there either via dive cuts, post-ups or alley-oops. This explosiveness will certainly translate to the pros, since more open-court opportunities will be available.

On the other hand, there are some alarming warts that likely will prevent Payne from reaching his true potential. He has smaller than average-sized lungs, which means he can’€™t play for extended periods of time. At Michigan State, Tom Izzo had to manipulate Payne’€™s minutes to allow him to be the most effective he could be, but there are legitimate questions about his ability to sustain productivity over an 82-game season.

Payne also suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Even though Payne is a high-character individual, his on-court decisions make coaches (and fans) shake their heads at times. He misses defensive rotations and had a poor 0.65 assist-to-turnover ratio, illustrating his decision-making difficulty.

Still, Payne brings enough transferable skills to the NBA and deserves consideration as a mid- to late-first-round pick. Even if he’€™s a guy who can only play 20 minutes per game, it’€™s close to a guarantee that he’ll be productive during his time on the court.

How he fits: Brad Stevens likes to stretch the floor with all of his big men, and Payne fits that mold to perfection. He brings exceptional mechanics from both mid- and 3-point range, and could immediately slide into the rotation considering his experience.

Related articles:

ESPN Insider: Payne dealing with mono

Sporting News: Payne sharing Senior Night with Lacey Holsworth beyond special

Video: Here is a video of all 41 of Payne’€™s points against Delaware.

(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, Adrian Autry, Boston Celtics, NBA

Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Celtics will pick from worthy group of 4

05.22.14 at 9:43 am ET
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The sobering truth of the Celtics‘€™ 57-loss season is now settling in. All it was worth is the No. 6 overall pick in June’€™s NBA draft. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers won the lottery for a third time in four years since LeBron James left for Miami — this time with a 1.7 percent chance — seriously? Anyway, there’€™s a lot of chatter about whom Boston should use the pick on, as well as what to trade it for.

If Danny Ainge chooses to (or is forced to) use the pick, he most likely will be left with three worthy prospects to select from. But before discussing them, let’€™s be clear. Using this pick signifies heading into a full-on rebuild; one that probably doesn’€™t include Rajon Rondo. If I’€™m Ainge, I use the pick (along with any assets it takes) to go after Kevin Love at all costs.

Pairing Rondo and Love would put the most difficult stage of getting back into contention behind us. Boston likely still would have a few assets left over, along with the cap space to find the third star it takes to win in this league. For argument’s sake, let’€™s say Ainge goes the opposite direction. Here’€™s how the draft should shake down.

Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are essentially locks to be taken in some order with the first three picks. And the Magic are one of the teams most intrigued by Dante Exum, making it tough to see them passing on the Australian guard when they pick fourth.

The Jazz are the mystery team. Will they keep the fifth pick or trade it? Regardless, the team in that spot will be picking from four players, in all likelihood. Which leaves Ainge taking one of the remaining three top-level prospects. The following are the four players projected to be taken with picks 5-8.

Noah Vonleh, Indiana, freshman: 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks

As I mentioned in my last column, Vonleh was the big winner of the combine — to the point that he is viewed as the player most likely to be picked fifth overall. I am on the opposite end of the spectrum, I see Vonleh as the eighth-best player in the draft. Still, he would be a decent fit in Boston. This is primarily because he is a much different player than Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UCLA SG Jordan Adams

05.22.14 at 9:11 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.

JORDAN ADAMS

Position: Shooting guard
School: UCLA
Age: 19
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 209
Wingspan: 6-foot-10

Key 2013-14 stats: 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 54.5 eFG%

Scouting report: Advanced analytics draft models love Adams because he efficiently (28.3 PER, 60.3 TS%, 54.5% eFG%) fills up the box score with points (17.4), rebounds (5.3), steals (2.6) and assists (2.3). Adams just always seems to be around the ball, as he has exceptional instincts and, of course, actual basketball skills.

Adams might not be a star in the pros like he was at UCLA, but he’€™s a sure bet to at least be a contributing player. He’€™s a terrific shooter (35.6 3P%), but it’€™s how he gets his shots that counts most. He is incredible at hugging close to off-ball screens and creating space before he receives the pass, which is likely something he will do at some point in the NBA. But he also has fantastic mechanics when spotting up or off the dribble., which are two necessary attributes for any great shooter.

Adams also brings great man-to-man and team defense. Though his lateral quickness and athleticism won’€™t wow anyone, he knows how to stay in position and use his long 82-inch wingspan to disturb ball-handlers and get in the way of the passing lanes.

For a player with very few warts, it’€™s surprising that Adams isn’t a consensus lottery pick, but he lacks the elite upside of many prospects, which certainly stifles his ceiling as a pro. Not every star player in the league has freakish measurables, but it’€™s difficult for a 6-foot-5 guard with only average speed and athleticism to be any more than a “plus role player.” But there’€™s nothing wrong with that, because every championship team needs players like that.

How he fits: At the 17th pick, the Celtics may prefer to choose the best player available, and Adams certainly could be the one. With versatile scoring skills and quality defense, Adams filled up the box score at UCLA and could do the same in the NBA.

Related articles:

Los Angeles Times: UCLA guard Jordan Adams’ family goes the extra mile

Sports Illustrated: Jordan Adams changes mind and enters NBA draft

Video: Here is a video of Jordan Adams scoring 21 points against Nevada.

(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, Jordan Adams, NBA

NBA draft lottery: Celtics receive 6th pick

05.20.14 at 8:40 pm ET
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Even Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca‘s lucky Rooster of Barcelos couldn’t help the team’s string of tough lottery luck, as the C’s landed the pick they were most likely to receive — sixth overall. As a result, any hope of selecting Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid flew the coop.

After losing the coin flip to the Jazz, the Celtics had a 34.2 percent chance at the sixth pick — by far the most likely scenario — and a 33.4 percent shot at the top three. The odds seem to be forever not in their favor.

“We were all disappointed, but at the same time, we were prepared for this,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “We knew that this was a strong possibility. It’€™s a momentary disappointment. You hope to get the lucky ball, but now we have some clarity and some marching orders.”

Meanwhile, in the biggest surprise of the evening, the Cavaliers received the No. 1 overall pick for the third time in the past four years. Cleveland had a 1.7 percent chance of picking first again.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Milwaukee Bucks
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Orlando Magic
5. Utah Jazz
6. Boston Celtics
7. Los Angeles Lakers
8. Sacramento Kings
9. Charlotte Hornets
10. Philadelphia 76ers
11. Denver Nuggets
12. Orlando Magic
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
14. Phoenix Suns

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA,

Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Takeaways from combine

05.20.14 at 4:50 pm ET
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The NFL draft combine represents some of the biggest days in a college football star’€™s life. Prospects are held under a microscope and are heavily graded on their performance. The findings have the ability to swing a player’€™s draft stock significantly one direction or the other. The NBA draft combine, which was held in Chicago last Wednesday through Sunday, holds a very different kind of meaning.

Much less stock is invested in the drills at the NBA combine, but they still have it, so I’€™m going to write about it. For starters, the three big names who make winning a top-three pick in Tuesday’s draft lottery so crucial were no-shows. Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid felt they had nothing to gain by showing up, which probably was the right call. The last thing any of them need is a fluke injury while showing scouts they can dribble around cones. Their absence made it much less entertaining for those of us who watched all 15 hours of coverage (which might be just me).

As ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla kept repeating, the whole process is really just a job interview. This is spot on. There’€™s not that much you can learn by watching basketball players run and jump that you haven’€™t already seen in game action. Scouts are always enamored with a prospect’€™s measurements, though. If you’€™re an NBA general manager who doesn’€™t know that Aaron Gordon is going to test well on the vertical jump, or that Dante Exum is going to test well in the agility drills, then you haven’€™t been doing your job.

This is why the personal interview process is so important at the combine. But we don’€™t have access to that (the in-depth interviews behind closed doors, at least), so here are some takeaways worth noting.

— The highest max vertical leaps belonged to Jahii Carson and Markel Brown at 43 1/2 inches. No one cared, however, as Wiggins’€™ agent conveniently released an image of his client displaying his 44-inch vertical in his own training session. Looks like it was the right call to not show up, seeing that everyone was talking about Wiggins anyway.

— Everyone, literally everyone, wanted to see Exum. This was the first chance many GMs got to watch Exum in person. Of course, they didn’€™t even get to see him play, just participate in athletic testing. Exum is a high-character kid, as expected he did a fantastic job in his interviews. I would be very nervous using a top-five pick on him hardly seeing him actually play basketball, though. During the draft process he will only be working out alone. Most of the top prospects operate this way, but we have seen all of them compete on the floor in college. People who have seen Exum play the most — Chad Ford and Franschilla — believe he will develop into a star. But have they even seen enough of him?

Marcus Smart is a guy considered a lesser talent than Exum, but I’€™m not convinced that’€™s true. Not to say Exum won’€™t be better, my eyes just haven’€™t seen anything to convince me of that yet. By many accounts, Exum has a similar body at 18 years old to Michael Jordan. So did Lenny Cook — how’€™d that work out? Smart is a passionate player. Danny Ainge says he loves Smart’€™s ‘€œfire,’€ which some look at as an attitude problem. I tend to agree with Ainge here. Smart is a big, physical guard who always plays aggressive. He needs to improve his jump shot, but so does Exum. Let’€™s just say Smart has more of a chance to be Russell Westbrook than Exum has to be Jordan. Exum vs. Smart is almost turning into a Wiggins vs. Parker argument in my mind. Do you want the elite prospect with the athletic gifts? Or do you want the better player right now? Who says Smart and Parker won’€™t still grow in the NBA?

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Read More: Dante Exum, Gary Harris, Jerami Grant, Marcus Smart
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