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NBA draft prospect profile: Wyoming PF Larry Nance Jr.

06.25.15 at 1:34 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).

LARRY NANCE JR.

Position: Power forward

School: Wyoming

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 227 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2014-15 stats: 16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 50.7 field goal percentage

Scouting report: Nance has the prototypical measurables and skill set to play power forward in the NBA. With a 6-foot-9 frame and an extremely rangy 7-foot-2 wingspan, he brings the potential to fill out his body and dominate the position at both ends of the floor. He is an explosive athlete, with the mobility and quickness to navigate the lane and guard wings off the pick and roll. Although he’s not a post scorer, Nance brings stretch-four potential to the NBA with a solid mid-range game and a decent 3-point shot (34.1 percent in 2014-15).

While Nance., a projected second-round pick, holds great catch-and-shoot potential, he needs to improve his mid-range game off the dribble, according to some scouts. However, the major area of improvement NBA execs will be looking for from Nance is his post moves. He has a limited array of options and his footwork leaves much to be desired.

Nance felt good after his early workouts.

“Some went better than others, but I felt really good about all of them,” Nance said. “I’m very confident where I sit in the eyes of the NBA teams.”

Notes: Nance is the son of three-time NBA All-Star Larry Nance, who played 14 seasons in the league with the Suns and Cavaliers. Nance Jr. led Wyoming in points, rebounds and blocks in 2014-15 en route to All-Mountain West first team and Mountain West co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. He led Wyoming to the Mountain West Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the team’s first since 2002.

Related articles:

USA Today: Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. grows beyond a disease’s constraints

Cleveland.com: Wyoming’s Larry Nance has come a long way from Revere High to being a star in the Cowboy state

The Players’ Tribune: NBA Job Application: Larry Nance Jr.

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Larry Nance Jr.,

ESPN’s Chad Ford: Willie Cauley-Stein ‘doesn’t look anything like a Celtics pick’

06.25.15 at 12:48 pm ET
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ESPN’s NBA draft expert Chad Ford was on Zach Lowe of Grantland’s podcast Wednesday talking about the Celtics and their plan of attack for the draft based on how they’ve drafted in the past.

The point of emphasis for the Celtics in approaching this year, according to Ford, is that they’ll be looking to draft someone similar to Marcus Smart in the way that the point guard plays with a competitive edge and with a “fire in his belly.”

It’s for that reason that, though the C’s might focus on Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein for his talent, Ford said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge likes picking guys for their personality too. Ford suggested that Boston might opt for Croatia shooting guard Mario Hezonja because of his attitude.

“If you want to project who the Celtics are going to take at 16, you ought to look at what sort of player Danny [Ainge] likes from a mental makeup, and why they might be excited by a guy like Mario Hezonja from Croatia,” Ford said. “Everybody’s talking about them going after Willie Cauley-Stein, but Willie Cauley-Stein — from a talent standpoint, I see why the Celtics need him, but from a mental makeup, he doesn’t look anything like a Celtics pick. Mario Hezonja? That looks like a Celtics pick.”

But Hezonja keeps climbing on draft boards, predicted to go as high as No. 4 by some places, and though the C’s have been assertive in their attempt to move into the top 10, getting that high up would require a large trade. Cauley-Stein has also fallen in mock drafts, and his history of injury may be to blame.

For more Celtics news, check out weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Chad Ford, Danny Ainge, Mario Hezonja, Willie Cauley-Stein

NBA draft prospect profile: Georgia State SG R.J. Hunter

06.25.15 at 10:42 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).

R.J. HUNTER

Position: Shooting guard

School: Georgia State

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 185 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2014-15 stats: 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 88.7 free throw percentage

Scouting report: Hunter is perhaps the best pure shooter in the draft, reminiscent in size and makeup to Klay Thompson. At 6-foot-6, Hunter is a long, athletic wing with an unconventional release but sure-fire results, including 2.2 3-point makes per game and the game-winning buzzer-beater against No. 3 seed Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. One of the most underrated aspects of his game is his passing, stemming from a high basketball IQ and an advanced understanding of court spacing.

Hunter faces criticism from scouts for his wiry frame, which prevents him from reaching his defensive potential. Additionally, scouts wonder about his ability to create for himself off the dribble, an aspect of his game which needs work, especially against bigger, stronger defenders.

At the NBA combine, Hunter, a projected late-first-round pick, discussed the questions about his defense, citing that as the focal point of his workouts.

“I think that’s the main question. I’m ready to show that [capable defense],” Hunter said. “That’s another challenge for me and another [weakness] I’ve got to knock off. I’m ready for that.”

Notes: Hunter played three years for his father, Ron, at Georgia State. Hunter earned two Sun Belt Player of the Year awards. His buzzer-beater over Baylor capped off a 12-point comeback, leading to the 2015 tourney’s iconic Cinderella moment. In three years, Hunter became Georgia State’s all-time leading scorer with 1,799 points.

Related articles:

Sports Illustrated: R.J. Hunter makes transition from coach’s son to courted NBA prospect

Bleacher Report: Will R.J. Hunter’s star shine as brightly in the NBA?

Georgia State Magazine: By Blood and Basketball: The father-son, player-coach relationship between Ron and R.J. Hunter

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, R.J. Hunter,

NBA draft prospect profile: Serbia C Nikola Milutinov

06.25.15 at 7:20 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).

NIKOLA MILUTINOV

Position: Center

Country: Serbia (played for KK Partizan in Serbia)

Age: 20

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 220 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2014-15 stats: 9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Scouting report: Milutinov has the size and length of a legitimate NBA center. He has excellent footwork and mobility and is quicker than many centers. He is a solid jump shooter with a smooth release (and, given his height, ability to shoot over defenders) who eventually should be able to shoot 3-pointers. He is an improved passer and player in the post, one able to impressively play above the rim. He can move without the ball, play well in the pick and roll, and create opportunities for himself on the offensive glass (5.8 offensive boards per 40 minutes). Defensively, Milutinov is a good player in the post due to his size and athleticism.

“His combination of size, mobility, and role-player potential make him one of the more intriguing international prospects in this draft, and it would not be at all surprising if Milutinov was one of the first draft-and-stash options off the board in the second round of the 2015 NBA draft,” Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress.com wrote of Milutinov.

One major weakness for Milutinov lies in his inability to consistently affect shots at the rim. He isn’t an explosive leaper, which inhibits his shot blocking. He is lanky and skinny; he needs to add bulk to play against the tougher bigs in the NBA. He doesn’t have a great post game on the offensive end, without a go-to move while playing with his back to the basket. Many mock drafts predict that Milutinov will be picked early in the second round, with some saying he may be picked at the tail end of the first.

Notes: Milutinov played 28 minutes per game as a teenager on one of the best club teams in Eastern Europe. He has played for the Serbian U-16, U-18 and U-19 national teams. He is a good candidate to be drafted and stashed in Europe for another year before coming to the U.S.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Cleveland Cavaliers Prospect Profile: Nikola Milutinov

SB Nation: SB Nation Mock Draft: The San Antonio Spurs select Nikola Mulitinov

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Nikola Milutinov,

NBA draft prospect profile: Westchester CC SG/SF Luis Montero

06.24.15 at 5:46 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).

LUIS MONTERO

Position: Shooting guard/small forward

School: Westchester (N.Y.) Community College

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 195 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-1

Key 2014-15 stats: 15.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists

Scouting report: Montero is a big guard with great versatility and ability to play three positions, including point guard. He is smooth and explosive as an athlete with a good handle. As a passer, Montero is very skilled and has good court vision. He is a good shooter, making 43.7 percent of his 3-point attempts at WCC last season. He has a lot of other weapons in his offensive arsenal, too, with the ability to fake or change directions or finger roll his way to the bucket. His versatility could make him appealing given his size. He also is a solid defender and shot blocker with good timing.

“He changed us completely when he arrived this season. We were good. He made us great. Everyone wants a guy similar to Luis’ style because he can play like a guard. He’s a better defender than people think,” WCC coach Tyrone Mushatt said last August.

One major knock on Montero is his lack of high-quality experience, as he has not played against top levels of competition. He also is, at 22, relatively advanced in age compared to many other draft prospects. It’s hard to know how he’ll develop and how he would perform against better college players, let alone NBA talent. His body strength needs improvement in order to better his defense and ability to play through contact. At this point, he can’t handle standard small forwards defensively. He is a candidate to go late in the second round, although some mocks have him getting passed over altogether.

Notes: Montero verbally committed to the University of South Florida in November before deciding to declare for the NBA draft. A native of the Dominican Republic, Montero played his high school ball in Massachusetts, at Wilbraham & Monson Academy.

Related articles:

Indians Insider: WCC’s Montero a marked man during summer sweepstakes

The Journal News: WCC guard Luis Montero commits to South Florida

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Luis Montero,

Report: Kevin Love opts out of Cavaliers contract

06.24.15 at 2:51 pm ET
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The Celtics might have another shot at Kevin Love after all.

According to an ESPN report, Love notified the Cavaliers on Wednesday that he will out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent July 1.

Love was due to make $16.7 million next season, and he indicated earlier this month that he planned to remain in Cleveland. If he has altered his thinking, Celtics president Danny Ainge is expected to make a run at him.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that if Love is serious about free agency, the Celtics are expected to sell him on the plan that they also will attempt to sign Robin Lopez and Paul Pierce this offseason.

Love was injured during the Cavs’ sweep of the Celtics in the playoffs’ opening round when Kelly Olynyk pulled his arm out of its socket while the two were chasing a loose ball. Led by LeBron James, the Cavaliers still managed to reach the NBA Finals, pushing the Warriors to six games.

The Lakers and possibly the Trail Blazers reportedly will be active in pursuing Love as well.

Read More: Kevin Love,

An absolute mockery of a 2015 NBA mock draft v4.0

06.24.15 at 1:53 pm ET
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The-Wolf-of-Causeway

I’€™m not sure whether mock drafts got their name from the false premise that anyone could accurately mock what the front offices of all 30 NBA franchises will do come Thursday or the reality that everyone who professes to know such matters ultimately makes a mockery of themselves. It’€™s probably a hybrid of the two, but they sure are fun, so without further ado Green Street presents the final of four mock drafts leading up to the real thing in Chicago.

Keep in mind Celtics president Danny Ainge owns two first-round picks in this year’€™s draft — his own No. 16 selection and the Clippers’€™ No. 28 pick he received in exchange for letting Doc Rivers out of his contract — and predicting whether The Wolf of Causeway Street will stand pat, trade up or swap out of the draft is like guessing which ridiculous name Ron Artest will use next. Impossible.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Towns (Last week: Karl Towns)

  • Position: Center/power forward
  • School: Kentucky
  • Birthday: Nov. 15, 1995 (19 years old)
  • Height: 7 feet
  • Weight: 248 pounds
  • Wingspan: 7-foot-3.5
  • 2014-15 stats (39 games): 10.3 points (62.7 true shooting percentage), 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.1 assists in 21.1 minutes per game (31.4 player efficiency rating)
  • WEEI.com’s NBA draft prospect profile: Click here.
  • Celtics equivalent: Kevin Garnett.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor (Last week: Jahlil Okafor)

  • Position: Center
  • School: Duke
  • Birthday: Dec. 15, 1995 (19 years old)
  • Height: 6-foot-11
  • Weight: 270 pounds
  • Wingspan: 7-foot-5
  • 2014-15 stats (38 games): 17.3 points (64.1 true shooting percentage), 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.1 per game (30.7 player efficiency rating)
  • WEEI.com’s NBA draft prospect profile: Click here.
  • Celtics equivalent: Kevin McHale.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: D’Angelo Russell (Last week: Kristaps Porzingis)

  • Position: Guard
  • School: Ohio State
  • Birthday: Feb. 23, 1996 (19 years old)
  • Height: 6-foot-5
  • Weight: 195 pounds
  • Wingspan: 6-foot-9.75
  • 2014-15 stats (35 games): 19.3 points (57.3 true shooting percentage), 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals in 33.9 minutes per game (26.6 player efficiency rating)
  • WEEI.com’s NBA draft prospect profileClick here.
  • Celtics equivalent: Dennis Johnson.

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