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NBA draft prospect profile: Kentucky C Willie Cauley-Stein

06.21.15 at 2:21 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN

Position: Center

School: Kentucky

Age: 21 (turns 22 on Aug. 18)

Height: 7-foot-1

Weight: 242 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2014-15 stats: 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

Scouting report: Cauley-Stein’s size combined with his unparalleled athleticism make him arguably the most feared defender in the draft and a projected lottery pick. His length (7-foot-3 wingspan) and jumping ability (37-inch vertical leap at Kentucky’s pro day) mark him as a potentially dominant rim protector, as evidenced by his 2.9 blocks per game during his sophomore season. Additionally, the Kansas native boasts elite quickness and lateral agility, helping him guard multiple positions and dominate on the high pick and roll.

On the offensive side of the ball, it is no secret to NBA execs that Cauley-Stein needs to work on developing his post moves. However, his explosiveness helps him work the offensive glass and generate highlight-reel slams. A good comparison for Cauley-Stein according to many scouts is DeAndre Jordan. When provided the right situation, he will have the opportunity to shine as a defensive playmaker and a garbageman on the offensive glass.

Many coaches and scouts have lauded Cauley-Stein’s decision to remain in school to refine his skills after his dynamite sophomore season. He himself believes that the extra year helped him evolve into a potentially great player.

“To show that maturity level I didn’t have last year if I was to enter the draft, now I’m one of the older dudes in the draft and I get it,” Cauley-Stein said. “I understand everything. I understand the game, I understand the process, I understand what it takes to be an elite player.”

Notes: Cauley-Stein is second in Kentucky’s decorated history in blocked shots with 233. He is the only player in Kentucky history to tally 500 rebounds, 200 blocks and 100 steals. At the conclusion of 2015, Cauley-Stein was named to the AP All-America team. He was named All-SEC first team, won SEC Defensive Player of the Year, made the All-SEC Defensive team and earned SEC Tournament MVP honors.

Related articles:

Grantland: Jahlil Okafor vs. Willie Cauley-Stein: Who Is the Shiny New Toy?

SB Nation: NBA Draft rumor: Celtics may target Willie Cauley-Stein if they trade up

New York Post: Willie Cauley-Stein pitch for Knicks: Like a 7-foot John Wall

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Willie Cauley-Stein,

NBA draft prospect profile: Kansas SG Kelly Oubre

06.21.15 at 10:34 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the first two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

KELLY OUBRE

Position: Shooting guard

School: Kansas

Age: 19 (turns 20 on Dec. 9)

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 200 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2014-15 stats: 9.3 points, 5 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 44.4 field goal percentage, 35.8 3-point field goal percentage

Scouting report: Oubre’s height and length are absolutely perfect for an NBA wing and so is his athleticism, contributing to his impressive two-way play. His 7-foot-2 wingspan and quick reflexes make him hard for opponents to get past, and his offensive strengths include his outside shot and ability to break out for transition scoring, according to NBAdraft.net. He hits roughly 35.8 percent of his shots from deep and sinks 44.4 percent of field goal attempts overall, highlighting great potential for his mid-range game.

Oubre doesn’t need to bulk up significantly, but if he continues to mature physically and adds some strength to his frame he should be fine. He could work some on his consistency and, more specifically, his floaters so they don’t get blocked as much.

“You get him in space and let him go, and you can’t guard him,” a Western Conference scout said of Oubre. “But when the game slows down, he can get in trouble. Now, can he get better? Yeah. Can he improve his shot? Yeah.”

Oubre is projected to be drafted in the middle of the first round, with some mocks having him go to the Celtics at No. 16.

Notes: Oubre was an All-Big 12 honorable mention as well as a Big 12 All-Newcomer selection as a freshman last season. He recorded three 20-plus-point games and a trio of double-doubles as well, ending the year as the Jayhawks’ fourth-leading scorer, third-leading rebounder and second in steals.

When he was 9 years old, Oubre and his father left his hometown of New Orleans for Houston just before Hurricane Katrina hit. While his mother and siblings still reside in the city, Oubre would not go back to live there and spent much time playing basketball. The shooting guard has an arm tattoo commemorating his love of New Orleans on his right shoulder and upper arm.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Kelly Oubre slowly learns how to maximize his incredible potential

The Kansas City Star: How KU’s Kelly Oubre rode out a storm and wound up in the Phog

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Kelly Oubre,

NBA draft prospect profile: UCLA PF Kevon Looney

06.21.15 at 7:19 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

KEVON LOONEY

Position: Power forward

School: UCLA

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 222 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3.5

Key 2014-15 stats: 11.6 points, 9.2 rebounds

Scouting report: Looney projects to the NBA as a very talented forward. He is not an elite athlete but was able to make an impact on the offensive end in college with a hearty dose of aggressiveness and hustle. He has a great nose for the offensive boards, tallying 4.2 rebounds per 40 minutes on that end. He has good basketball instincts. Looney is a pretty solid jump shooter, making 22 of his 53 attempts (41.5 percent) last season. He is a solid, versatile defender who utilizes his lengthy reach and averaged more than one steal and block per game. If he improves his ball-handling slightly, Looney could play either forward position at the NBA level.

“He rebounds the basketball, he runs in transition and he’s always in the right spot at the right time. He’s just a guy that we all really enjoy watching as he continues to develop,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said of his combo forward.

Looney will need to increase his upper-body strength in order to maintain his rebounding success rate. He needs to work on refining his off-hand dribbling. He has a slow release on his shot, making it somewhat easy for players to close out on him. A lot of his offensive output this year came on the offensive glass, so he’ll need to refine other manners of scoring to be a force at the next level. He projects to be drafted just outside the lottery, in the high teens or low 20s of the first round.

Notes: Looney was named second-team All-Pac-12 and made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team while helping to lead the Bruins to the Sweet 16. He led all Division 1 freshmen with 15 double-doubles. He worked out for the Celtics on June 17.

Related articles:

NBA.com: Kevon Looney brings versatility, endless potential

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ex-Hamilton star Kevon Looney impresses in workout with Bucks

Fox 6: After one year of college, Kevin Looney gears up for NBA draft: ‘€œI think I’m as ready as I can be for a 19-year-old’€

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Kevon Looney,

NBA draft prospect profile: Kentucky SG Devin Booker

06.20.15 at 5:42 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the first two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

DEVIN BOOKER

Position: Shooting guard

School: Kentucky

Age: 18

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 205 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-8

Key 2014-15 stats: 10.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 turnovers, 47.0 field goal percentage, 41.1 3-point field goal percentage

Scouting report: Viewed as one of the best shooters, if not the best shooter, in the draft, Booker is a 3-point specialist with a high basketball IQ. He makes smart plays and has a “silky smooth and lightning-quick release with a soft touch,” according to NBAdraft.net. At 18 years old, Booker is one of the youngest players in the draft. He has killer scoring instincts and can catch and shoot as easily as he can shoot off the dribble, being able to score from just about anywhere with confidence. He gets open off the ball well and utilizes his quickness and footwork to find space before unleashing his shot. With a release as quick as Booker’s, it’s no wonder he has so many options on the floor and such a good shot selection. NBA.com says he’s likely to go in the late teens of the first round, though other boards have him going as high as top 10.

“You’re talking about a big guard, who can shoot, Klay Thompson-ish,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of Booker. “That’s what he looks like. The league now is create a rotation defensively and take advantage of that rotation. Well, with him out on the court, either you don’t let him get it and it’s four-on-four or you do let him get it and he’s looking quick 3, pull-up elbow, teach him to finish at the rim, he’s pretty good.”

Booker isn’t known for his defense, with his wingspan not doing him many favors, but Calipari said he’s still sound on the other end of the court. Finishing at the rim, like Calipari pointed out, is something that Booker could work on, as CBS Sports writes that he doesn’t have all that much “upward explosiveness.”

Notes: Booker was named SEC Sixth Man of the Year by the league’s coaches and earned All-SEC second team and All-SEC Freshman honors. He was also a five-time SEC Freshman of the Week during the 2014-15 season and went through a seven-game stretch in which he was 20-for-28 from deep.

Booker’s father, Melvin, played basketball for Missouri in the 1990s and bounced around between the CBA and NBA afterward, appearing in 32 total games for the Rockets, Nuggets and Warriors before playing overseas for a bit. He would end his own basketball career early to help Devin become the player he is today.

“I just knew that Devin was special because he could shoot the ball at 12 from a college three-point line,” Melvin told Fox Sports. “And I knew the older he gets, the shorter my career is going to have to be, because I’m going to have to be home to spend time with him. It was a tough decision to make. But it was just a decision that I had to make for him.”

Related articles:

The Charlotte Observer: NBA Draft: Kentucky’s Devin Booker out to show he’s not just a jump-shooter

Fox Sports: For the Bookers, basketball, life provide incredible bond

Fox Sports: Kentucky’s Devin Booker preparing for key role in NCAA tournament

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Devin Booker,

NBA draft prospect profile: Murray State PG Cameron Payne

06.20.15 at 2:19 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

CAMERON PAYNE

Position: Point guard

School: Murray State

Age: 20 (turns 21 on Aug. 8)

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 185 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-7

Key 2014-15 stats: 20.3 points, 6.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 37.3 3-point percentage

Scouting report: Payne is one of the most complete point guards available in the draft. He’s a long, deceivingly athletic scorer with a high basketball IQ and a great degree of competitiveness. Though he’s not the most athletic wing, Payne can drive and create plays off the dribble as a left-handed slasher similar to James Harden. The projected first-round talent is a selfless player who looks to find teammates in transition and off the bounce around the perimeter.

Although Payne’s length (6-foot-7 wingspan) is an attribute on the defensive side of the ball, he still needs to add weight, according to scouts. Additionally, he has a tendency to force the issue on offense, often playing too fast in transition, which led to his 2.5 turnovers per game last season.

According to former coach Steve Prohm, NBA teams can afford to overlook Payne’s current weaknesses and instead observe his upside.

“I’ve talked to a lot of NBA scouts, and Cameron is one kid that you can’€™t just sit there and pick apart his game,” Prohm said. “If he can get physically stronger, I think he’€™s got the IQ and the skill set to be an NBA All-Star.”

Notes: Payne led Murray State through a 25-game win-streak and a perfect 16-0 conference record before losing to Old Dominion in the NIT quarterfinals. Payne was named an honorable mention for the AP All-America team after leading Murray State in points (707), assists (87) and steals (68). He earned the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year distinction.

Related articles:

NBA.com: Payne still making doubters pay for underestimating him

SB Nation: Murray State’s Cameron Payne has seen his NBA Draft stock soar

Bleacher Report: Meet Cameron Payne, America’s Most Overlooked Prospect

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Cameron Payne,

NBA draft prospect profile: LSU PF Jarell Martin

06.20.15 at 10:45 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the first two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

JARELL MARTIN

Position: Power forward

School: LSU

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 235 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-9

Key 2014-15 stats: 16.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 51.0 field goal percentage

Scouting report: Martin’s best assets are his athleticism, rebounding ability, strength and versatility on offense. Averaging a little under a double-double per game, he is the ideal size for a power forward at the professional level and overpowered a lot of his opponents in college. CBS Sports calls him a “physical, explosive athlete” who boxes out well and has good mechanics to develop going forward.

“We don’t have anyone that can handle him one-on-one,” former Florida coach Billy Donovan said after Martin’s 28 points and 13 rebounds against the Gators on Feb. 21. “We never have and never will. He’s a terrific player. He can do it on his own. I think there are very few guys in the country where you can throw them the ball any spot on the floor and he can create a play for himself.”

However, for all Martin can do at the college level, he might have a hard time translating his talent directly to the NBA. He had trouble with turnovers during his sophomore season, averaging 2.8 per game, and might need some help with in-game decisions regarding the best way to score. His 3-pointer needs work, as he sunk under 28 percent of all his attempts during the 2014-15 season, and he could also spend time improving on defense. NBAdraft.net writes that he “seems more content to expend his energy on the offensive end of the floor” and isn’t much of a threat in terms of shot blocking. He’s expected to be drafted late in the first round or early in the second.

Notes: Martin was named an All-SEC first-team member in addition to being an AP All-America honorable mention this past season. His points per game was ranked third in the SEC, while his boards per contest were second on his team and third in the conference. His field goal percentage also was third in the SEC, and he made a team-best 140 free throws over the course of the season. In league play Martin averaged 16.0 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game. Martin posted 15 double-doubles last season, six of which came in his last 10 games of the season, and he ended with eight straight double-digit scoring games. As a freshman, Martin was an SEC All-Freshman Team selection, averaging 10.3 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game.

The power forward had many impressive plays during his sophomore season, but two that he’s noted for are a pair of dunks. The first, a windmill dunk, took place on Nov. 18, 2014, when LSU faced Texas Tech. Martin’s teammate’s cited the play as the turning point of the game, which the Tigers won, 69-64, in overtime after trailing by 12 at the half. The second was a between the legs dunk that he made Feb. 21 vs. Florida, two of his 28 points on the day.

LSU legend Shaquille O’Neal told a radio station in Baton Rouge that Martin and his teammate and fellow prospect Jordan Mickey are not ready for the NBA. “Yes, they’re talented. Yes, they can play,” he said. “But you want to just go to the NBA and play? Or do you want to have an impact? You want to get drafted? Or you want to be a high draft pick.”

Related articles:

Hoops Habit: Did Milwaukee Bucks promise to draft Jarell Martin?

NOLA.com: In year two LSU’s sophomore stars are shining bright to give the Tigers high hopes

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Jarell Martin,

NBA draft prospect profile: Latvia PF Kristaps Porzingis

06.20.15 at 7:36 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

 

KRISTAPS PORZINGIS

Position: Power forward

Country: Latvia (played for Baloncesto Sevilla in Spain)

Age: 19 (turns 20 on Aug. 2)

Height: 7-foot-1

Weight: 220 pounds

Key 2014-15 stats: 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks

Scouting report: Porzingis is one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2015 draft. He is a lock to get picked in the lottery, and many mock drafts have him being selected in the top five. Porzingis is a relative unknown to most Americans, having played for both club and national teams in Europe. That being said, he has impressed scouts in workouts since crossing the Atlantic. His combination of size (big enough to be an NBA center) and athleticism make him very appealing. Porzingis’ stature helps him to be proficient as a rim protector. He can run the floor and create offense off the dribble.

Porzingis is a good shooter with a high and fluid release, canning 36 percent of his 3’s this year between Liga ACB and Eurocup play for Sevilla. This is an especially helpful skill to possess in the new-age NBA, with the game evolving and placing more importance on 3-point shooting. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! describes Porzingis as having Dirk Nowitzki‘s shooting touch and Pau Gasol‘s athleticism,€ which is about as high of praise as a European big man can receive.

“He’s always so calm,” Porzingis’ 32-year-old brother, Janis, a former European basketball star himself, said about him after a recent workout. “Think about this. He played like 50 games last season in ACB at 19 years old, and played like five bad games. I couldn’t do that at 25 years old, let alone 19.”

The most prominent knock on Porzingis seems to be his relatively slight build. To thrive as an interior presence in the NBA, he needs to add some bulk and get stronger. In European play this year, Porzingis didn’t rebound particularly well. While playing somewhat short minutes (21 per game), he could only pull down fewer than five boards per contest. They could also be a result of his skinny body type. However, Porzingis is still a teenager, not turning 20 until August. He has time to develop his body to the size it needs to reach for him to attain his potential as an NBA difference-maker.

Notes: Porzingis has twice been named to the ACB All-Young Players Team, in 2014 and 2015. His brother, Janis, is a former European basketball star and now helps to train Kristaps. Last year Kristaps declared for the draft but withdrew his name.

Since coming to the U.S. and working out for NBA teams and scouts, Porzingis has more than made a name for himself. He has climbed up draft boards and into the hearts and minds of basketball fans nationwide. The hype machine has churned out entire mailbags devoted to “Kristaps Porzingis mania.” The top two picks in the draft seem to be largely predetermined (with Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns going in some order), but Porzingis has been projected to go as high as the third pick to the 76ers. The Knicks (owners of the fourth pick) reportedly are intrigued by Porzingis’€™ potential ability to fit into Phil Jackson‘s triangle offense.

Porzingis worked out in Las Vegas on June 10 for a gaggle of media members and team executives, including high-ranking representatives from each of the teams with the first four picks in the draft.

Related articles:

Grantland: Who is Kristaps Porzingis?

SB Nation: Kristaps Porzingis could be the steal of the 2015 NBA draft

Business Insider: A 19-year-old Latvian prospect is blowing away NBA people in workouts, and some think he could be the best player in the draft

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Kristaps Porzingis,
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