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NBA draft prospect profile: New Mexico State PF Pascal Siakam

06.09.16 at 3:47 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.

PASCAL SIAKAM

Position: Power forward

School: New Mexico State

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 227 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 20.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks

Scouting report: Siakam uses his intimidating wingspan and high motor to have his way in the paint. He isn’t overly impressive on the offensive end, but the big man can score on putbacks and dump-ins with the best of them. Siakam’s hustle helps him rebound with ease, as well as get down to the other end of the court quickly for a big. He also is surprisingly capable of staying in front of guards on defense. While Siakam may lack a wide range of post moves, he has shown potential on his midrange jumper. One NBA team will hope that he can make the necessary adjustments to his jump shot in order to thrive as a stretch four.

Siakam, projected to go anywhere from late first round to late second round, worked out for the Celtics on June 6, with his focus being to display his high energy level. “I’m just trying to show that I’m a competitor,” Siakam said during his visit. “I come to this workout and do what I do best; I’m not trying to force anything.”

While Siakam does have great wingspan for a power forward, he’s a little too thin and will need to fill out his frame and work on his strength down low. His limited post moves have become too predictable, and at 22 years old, there may not be much upside to his game. He is a fairly well-rounded prospect, but there’s also plenty to work on.

Notes: Siakam led the nation in double-doubles with 22 in 32 games this past season. He was named the unanimous WAC Player of the Year and made the conference’s All-Defensive Team. … He grew up playing soccer in Cameroon before moving to the United States in 2012. … He is the youngest of four brothers who all played Division 1 basketball. … Siakam will attempt to be the first player from NMSU drafted since 1991.

Related articles:

Bleacher Report: New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam is the best player you’ve never heard of

Las Cruces Sun-News: New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam staying in NBA draft

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, pascal siakam,

Celtics Choice: Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield vs. Kentucky guard Jamal Murray

06.09.16 at 1:38 pm ET
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In the days leading up to June 23’s NBA draft, we examine what the Celtics could do with the No. 3 overall pick and how they should approach this pivotal offseason. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to draft a scorer — Oklahoma senior Buddy Hield, or Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray.

The case for Hield

Did you watch a second of college basketball this season? Hield was a monster, adding dribble penetration and increased range to his explosive offensive game. He averaged 25 points a game and shot .457 from 3-point territory. His shot chart is off the charts, with above-average production from everywhere on the floor except the left baseline. As a senior, he’s more polished than most of the teens and freshmen coming out this year, including Murray. And he demonstrated an ability to hit big, clutch shots throughout his senior year, leading the Sooners to the Final Four, where they lost to Villanova, the eventual champs.

The case against Hield

The senior thing actually works against him among NBA types concerned that he’s already at or near his ceiling. There are also legitimate questions about his foot speed and ability to create his own shot at the next level, especially since he’s only 6-4 and won’t have the benefit of simply shooting over the top of smaller defenders, a la Reggie Miller or Klay Thompson. He’s also considered a subpar defender, though Brad Stevens could change that. The biggest knock on Hield is that he’s a finished product with not a lot of room to grow, and in the NBA everyone loves the ability to daydream about best-case projections.

The case for Murray

He’s one confident young man, that’s for sure. He told reporters, including WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia, after his Celtics workout that he considers himself the best player in the draft, and he opened eyes by making a draft-workout record 79 out of 100 3-pointers during one Celtics drill. His college coach, John Calipari, believes the Sixers should take him No. 1 overall. He made over 40 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman and has the kind of stroke that projects to play in the NBA, particularly as he develops. Murray is a weapon pulling up off the dribble or coming off screens, and probably a better pure shooter than Hield, who only made 23.5 percent of his 3s as a college freshman.

The case against Murray

He opened the season as Kentucky’s point guard, but ball-handling and decision-making limitations opened the door for Tyler Ulis, and Murray excelled off the ball. Still, at 6-4, he’ll need to develop better ball security to thrive in the NBA. The biggest question, however, is Murray’s athleticism. He struggled to finish at the rim in college, and that task will get exponentially harder in the NBA. He lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards, and he’s not much of a leaper. While his pure shooting ability makes him a solid NBA prospect, he’d be a real gamble at No. 3, especially since he probably will need at least two years to make an impact.

The Verdict

Murray’s shooting numbers as a freshman blow away Hield’s at the same age, and a lot of the questions we had about Hield (creating shot, dribble penetration) were answered over the final three years of his college career. If — and this is a big if — Murray makes similar improvements, he’ll be a better pro. In the short term, the answer is Hield, but long-term, we’d roll the dice on Murray.

Should the Celtics draft Oklahoma's Buddy Hield or Kentucky's Jamal Murray No. 3 overall?

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Previous entries

June 7: Dragan Bender vs. Kevin Love
June 2: Al Horford vs. DeMar DeRozan
May 31: Buddy Hield vs. Avery Bradley
May 26: Kevin Love vs. Paul George
May 24: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Blake Griffin
May 23: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward
May 20: Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown
May 19: Jahlil Okafor vs. Dragan Bender

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Buddy Hield, Celtics choice

NBA draft prospect profile: Marquette PF Henry Ellenson

06.09.16 at 12:33 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.

HENRY ELLENSON

Position: Power forward

School: Marquette

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 242 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2015-16 stats: 17.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists

Scouting report: Ellenson has the potential to be an offensive force in the NBA, which is why he could be drafted in the top 10. Ellenson has been deemed to have a natural scoring ability, and his ball-handling skills combined with his long frame creates mismatch nightmares for defenders, especially in pick-and-roll situations. This past season at Marquette, Ellenson only hit 29 percent of the 3’s he took, but some analysts believe that the low success rate is due to shot selection, not capability. ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford recently watched Ellenson at a workout and said, “While his release is a bit on the slow side, he had great shooting form and showed he could hit shots with regularity from anywhere on the floor.” Ford also reported Ellenson was working on developing a step-back jumper, which would add another weapon to an already deadly mid-range arsenal.

Ellenson’s weakness is on the defensive side of the court. This is concern about his lack of explosiveness that could make it difficult for him to protect the rim, and his inability to get out the perimeter quickly could hurt him when guarding quicker power forwards. Further hurting Ellenson is that Marquette as a whole was not good this past season and failed to qualify for even the NIT.

Nonetheless, Ellenson is confident in his abilities. “I’m thinking I’m a top pick,” Ellenson said at the NBA combine. “[Teams that I have interviewed with] all think that, too. It is a good position to be in, for sure.”

Notes: Ellenson was named the Big East Freshman of the Year and landed a spot on the All-Big East first team, which is the first time a freshman has done that since Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony in 2003. … Ellenson comes from quite the basketball family. His father, John, played for Marquette and Wisconsin. His mother, Holly, played at Division 3 Wisconsin-Eau Claire. His oldest brother, Wally, played with him at Marquette (after transferring from Minnesota) and is an All-America high jumper for the school’s track and field team. His other older brother, Ellwood, plays NAIA college basketball for Valley City State in North Dakota. And his sister, Ella, is wrapping up her junior year of high school as a Division 1 college prospect.

Related articles:

Sports Illustrated: Henry Ellenson: I can go No. 1 in the NBA draft

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Meet the leapin’ Ellenson family

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Former Marquette standout skips on-court activities

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Henry Ellenson,

NBA draft prospect profile: NC State PG Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber

06.09.16 at 9:38 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.

ANTHONY ‘CAT’ BARBER

Position: Point guard

School: NC State

Age: 21 (turns 22 on July 25)

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 173 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-5

Key 2015-16 stats: 23.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists

Scouting report: Barber, who is forging his senior season, may not be the tallest or strongest person on the court, but he is one of the quickest. Barber uses that ability to break the ankles of his defenders, thus creating his own shot. Eight times last season Barber had at least 30 points, and only twice did he fail to reach double figures.

“He’ll be one of the 10 quickest point guards in the the league,” an NBA scout told Bleacher Report. “But the problem is he’s doing it with a much smaller frame than most players. The greatest concern with him is going to be his frame, whether he’ll get swallowed up and knocked around and have trouble staying on the line.” 

For somebody who is so quick, Barber only recorded 0.6 steals per game. Barber also has been knocked for trying to do too much and failing to distribute the ball on a team that finished under .500 this past season. Further hurting Barber are concerns about his attitude, although NC State coach Mark Gottfried defended his player’s approach. He is projected to be drafted in the middle or later part of the second round.

Notes: Barber was given the nickname Cat by his older sister for his quick and sudden movements as a child. … The ambidextrous Barber has been compared to Allen Iverson because in addition to the fact that both are smaller, quicker players, they share the same hometown of Hampton, Virginia. … Barber has a 1-year-old daughter.

Related articles:

USA Today: Two days inspire two months for NC State’s Cat Barber

The News & Observer: Is Cat Barber ‘uncoachable’? Not according to NC State coach

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Anthony Barber,

NBA draft prospect profile: Serbia SF Rade Zagorac

06.08.16 at 3:42 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.

RADE ZAGORAC

Position: Small forward

Country: Serbia (Mega Leks)

Age: 20 (turns 21 on Aug. 12)

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 205 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 13.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.7 steals

Scouting report: Zagorac is the less heralded of the three Mega Leks players expected to be drafted this month (Timothe Luwawu and Ivica Zubak are the others). Not surprisingly, Mega Leks won the Serbian Cup this season, and Zagorac was a key reason why. With his long wingspan, Zagorac rebounded well for a small forward and defensively was able to disrupt the passing lanes, coming up with 1.7 steals per game. He is strong at finishing on the fast break and taking the ball to the basket against smaller players — changing speed and direction well — although there are questions if he will be athletic enough for the NBA game.

Zagorac hit just 27.8 percent on 3-pointers this past season, which is another concern. He shot 45.1 percent from the field overall, and 83.3 percent from the free throw line.

Zagorac is projected to be drafted in the middle or later part of the second round by a team willing to give him some time to develop his game and his body.

Notes: Zagorac broke his hand during the first game of the season last October and played through the injury for the last few minutes of the contest, but he ended up missing the next three months. He was on the Serbian team that won the gold medal at the U20 European Championship last year in Italy, averaging 11.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in that tournament.

Related articles:

Kosarka: Rade Zagorac: NBA is my dream

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Rade Zagorac,

Jamal Murray out to prove he’s ‘best player’ in draft: ‘I can score on anybody’

06.08.16 at 2:14 pm ET
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Mar 19, 2016; Des Moines, IA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Jamal Murray (23) shoots the ball against Indiana Hoosiers guard Yogi Ferrell (11) in the second half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray, a possibility for the Celtics at No. 3, is not short on confidence as the draft approaches. (Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — Jamal Murray doesn’t lack for confidence. 

The 6-foot-4 guard out of Kentucky is rated by some as the best pure shooter and scorer available after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram in the draft. 

“I have the mind of a 1 in a 2 guard’s body,” Murray said. “I believe I can score on anybody. In college I got better at playing the 2, kind of got a feel for it coming off screens, found my rhythm. Before that I was a natural point guard. I’m a big guard, whether a 1 or 2.”

Does Murray think he’s the best player in this draft? 

“Yeah, I think so. That’s not a knock on anybody, I’m just looking back on the work I’ve put in, how far I’ve come, how quickly I learn, how quickly I adapt to my surroundings and how easy I fit into a team. I believe I’m the best player in the draft, but every team needs what they need,” he said. “I just want to go to the right team. The team that wants me. The team that believes in my potential and [couldn’t make out] I have right now. Someone who is going to use down the stretch and have faith in me.”

On Wednesday, he spent the morning working out for the Celtics, proving that and setting a record of sorts. 

The guard made 79 of 100 shots from 3-point range in a drill around the arc. The previous mark was 77 this spring. The drill involved taking 10 shots from beyond the arc at five spots on the court and going twice around. 

“They told me ahead of time it was a record. I was at 71. They kind of had one more spot to go,” Murray said. “I didn’t know. They just kind of told me I was at 71.” 

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Jamal Murray, John Calipari

A crazy busy Zach Auguste comes home for a Celtics workout: ‘I’ve got 19. All downhill from here’

06.08.16 at 12:40 pm ET
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WALTHAM – There are few, if any, players who have the pre-draft workout schedule that Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste has. 

The Marlboro, Mass. native stopped by Waltham Wednesday morning for a workout with the Celtics as part of a journey that is set to take him to 18 different teams. 

“This is my 14th workout. So I’m kind of a vet,” Auguste said with a hearty smile. “I’ve got 19 scheduled. Yeah, I’m a 14, so I’m almost there. All downhill from here.

“This is actually my third one in a row this week. Just came from Houston and L.A., with the Lakers and the Rockets. And I’m going to have a couple days off, about four days off, and then head down to Washington for the Wizards. Then I’ve got Sacramento, Golden State, and then Detroit.”

“It takes a toll on you and you definitely get fatigued, but the most important thing is just kinda get as much rest as you can, stay hydrated. The trainer will say to me, ‘Always have a Gatorade or water bottle in your hands at all times.’ Then you just use a recovery system. Each organization has a recovery room you can get some ice, heat, whatever you need to do. So utilizing that is the most important thing.”

What was it like for him to stop by home and work out for the team that he rooted for growing up.

“It feels great. I had an opportunity to come here for this organization, work out for a team that I grew up my whole life watching and cheering for,” the 6-foot-10 Auguste said. “Nothing makes me prouder than being able to put this jersey on and have a workout, even if it’s just for one workout.”

So the Celtics were his favorite team?

“Of course. It’s funny to see Walter McCarty down there, helping us out, you know, someone I used to watch with his tube sucks all the time running up and down the court,” Auguste said. “So, it’s always good to see that, especially Danny Ainge as well.”

He did not, however, scream, ‘I love Waltah.’

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Notre Dame, Pat Connaughton
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