|Celtics Choice: Kris Dunn vs. Marcus Smart||05.25.16 at 12:47 pm ET|
In the days leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”
Today: Using the No. 3 pick on Providence College point guard Kris Dunn or keeping promising third-year player Marcus Smart
The case for Dunn
See if this sounds familiar: the Providence guard is powerfully built and physically gifted for his position, with the ability to defend multiple positions and a toughness NBA GMs like Danny Ainge love. If that sounds like Smart, it’s because Dunn shares many characteristics with the Celtics guard. Where he separates, however, is on the offensive side of the ball. Dunn is a better ball handler, passer, and scorer than Smart. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and with a 6-9 wingspan, Dunn possesses tremendous defensive instincts and court vision. He’s a terror in the open court and can finish at the rim authoritatively with either hand. He’s a true playmaking point guard who can also score (37.2 percent on 3-pointers). Just call him Smart 2.0.
The case against Dunn
In the delicate ecosystem of an NBA locker room, one malcontent can lead to disaster, and it’s fair to question Dunn’s fit when his agents are already suggesting he won’t play for a team — including the Celtics — with an established point guard. They can’t stop anyone from drafting him, but they can make it more difficult by withholding Dunn’s medicals, which is what Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski says they intend to do. This is an issue because Dunn required two shoulder surgeries during his PC career and teams will want a look before committing to him as their point guard of the future. On the court, there’s also the question of Dunn’s stroke — his inconsistent jumper includes a lot of moving parts — and his occasionally sloppy and reckless ball-handling.
The case for Smart
We have a much better idea of what type of NBA player Smart is and will be. A hawkish defender, he was often Brad Stevens’ secret weapon, shutting down opposing guards, but also spending time pushing 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis out of the post or shutting down Hawks star Paul Millsap in the midst of a 45-point playoff outburst. Smart is one of the best garbage players in the NBA, and that’s meant as a compliment, thanks to his ability to attack the offensive glass, pick up loose balls, and force mayhem on both ends of the floor. He also deserves credit for his willingness to take, and make, big shots, playing beyond his shooting percentages in pressure situations. He’s also only 12 days older than Dunn.
The case against Smart
Man, that shot. Smart’s jumper is not pretty and neither are his shooting percentages. He shot just .253 on 3-pointers last year, third-worst in the NBA. He has also demonstrated time and again an inability to score at the rim, where he’s often swallowed up by bigger players. Smart’s impressive athleticism tends to be of the horizontal variety, where his foot speed allows him to stay in front of opposing ball handlers. He’s vertically challenged, however, lacking explosiveness at the rim. There are also real questions about his ball handling, which is why Evan Turner ends up playing point guard when Smart’s on the floor. His shot selection remains extremely iffy — Smart has never met a contested 3-pointer early in the shot clock that he wouldn’t take. Then there’s the whole flopping/complaining thing.
The Celtics need scoring, not another athletic, defensive-minded point guard. Even accepting that Dunn will be a better pro than Smart, the C’s can do better with the third pick when they already have a reasonable facsimile on their roster. Keep Smart, use the third pick on a shooter.
|Celtics choice: Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown||05.20.16 at 2:10 pm ET|
As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”
Today: Using the No. 3 pick on Oklahoma scorer Buddy Hield or Cal forward Jaylen Brown
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. 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. 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 a not of room to grow, and in the NBA everyone loves the ability to daydream about best-case scenario projections.
The case for Brown
Brown is in many ways the opposite of Hield: He’s a raw athlete with explosive leaping ability, but an unpolished offensive game. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder could excel in one of Stevens’ small-ball lineups as an undersized but athletic power forward who creates matchup problems on both ends while defending multiple positions. He’s a tremendous finisher on the break and at the rim, and a good rebounder for his size. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a game as a freshman.
The case against Brown
His offense is limited. He shot just .294 on 3-pointers and .654 on free throws. He also disappeared down the stretch, shooting a combined 5-for-29 in his conference tournament and NCAA tourney games. Cal was a one-and-done against Hawaii in the Big Dance, and Brown finished his career with just four points and two rebounds while committing seven turnovers. He’s got a little bit of Jared Sullinger to his offensive game in that he’ll pound the ball and take contested jumpers.
Brown may be more athletic and projectable, but Hield has the potential to be a legit NBA scorer with unlimited range. We’ll take polish over potential.
|Duke freshman Brandon Ingram declares for NBA draft on Players’ Tribune||04.04.16 at 6:04 pm ET|
Add one name to the list of potential Celtics in the upcoming NBA draft — Duke scorer Brandon Ingram.
The 6-foot-9 freshman made it official on Monday in a story on the Players’ Tribune website, declaring for the draft to fulfill a dream of playing in the NBA.
“My time is almost over here in Durham,” Ingram wrote. “Today as I declare for the NBA Draft, I’m both excited and sad about this moment.
“On one hand, one year at Duke isn’t a very long time. I know that. But I’ve done a lot of growing, and growing up, in that time. I know by leaving I’ll miss out on a lot of friendships and opportunities. I’ll really miss all the students who showed me so much love. One of my favorite parts of the Duke basketball tradition is the high-five line at the end of home games. The students who camp out for seats for up to a week before a game — and get in their seats two hours early — are always still there after the final buzzer. Win or lose. You guys gave me the energy and support that I needed. I’ll never forget you all.”
Ingram averaged 17.3 points a game on 44.2 percent shooting, including .410 from 3-point land. Listed at just 190 pounds, the reed-thin Ingram will need to add bulk to excel in the NBA, where his body type and shooting ability have earned him comparisons to a poor man’s Kevin Durant.
Following a disappointing season from LSU freshman Ben Simmons, Ingram has zoomed to the top of some draft boards. He’s expected to be no worse than the No. 2 overall pick.
The Celtics own the Nets’ pick in the first round. Brooklyn current owns a record of 21-56, the fourth-worst in the NBA, but it’s only a game behind the Suns for the third-worst record and a 15.6 percent chance at the first overall pick.
|Report: Celtics boss Danny Ainge has spoken to forward David Lee about his future||02.01.16 at 3:24 pm ET|
Lee, who has not played in the last 12 games, is a free agent after the season. The 6-foot-9 power forward has lost his spot in the rotation with the Celtics deciding to shift to a smaller lineup featuring the versatile Jae Crowder at the 4.
Both Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens have praised Lee’s willingness to make the best of what everyone recognizes is a less-than-ideal situation. The 32-year-old former All-Star is a skilled scorer in the post, but not necessarily a fit in Stevens’ offense, which is built more around ball movement and 3-point shooting.
“All the success he has had in the NBA ‘¦ he has dealt with it right,” Ainge told CSNNE.com. “He knows an opportunity is going to come to him at some points. He’s staying ready.”
Ainge declined to disclose what he told Lee’s camp, and there are no indications the forward has requested a trade in advance of the Feb. 18 trade deadline.
Lee is averaging 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He’s only two years removed from going for 18.2 and 9.3 in Golden State.
|Former Butler player Andrew Smith, visited recently by Celtics coach Brad Stevens, dies at 25 of cancer||01.12.16 at 6:51 pm ET|
The news was broken by Smith’s wife, Samantha, who tweeted: “Andrew peacefully passed away in his sleep and in my arms as I told him I loved him this morning. Love you always, Smith.”
Smith had battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia over the last two years. Stevens, his former coach at Butler, missed the Celtics game on Jan. 8 in Chicago to pay Smith what turned out to be a final visit. He had previously checked in with him in November when the Celtics visited the Pacers, and Smith was hopeful a bone marrow transplant would help him beat the disease.
Stevens tweeted his condolences on Tuesday.
“To the toughest guy I ever met – Thank you, Andrew,” Stevens wrote. “We love you and will always be inspired by you.”
Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel noted in a separate post that, according to Samantha, Stevens called or texted Andrew Smith more than anyone outside of his family.
The 6-foot-11 Smith played on both of Butler’s national runners-up teams, in 2010 and 2011. He was a freshman reserve in 2010 when the Bulldogs lost a classic final to Duke, and he averaged 8.5 points a game for the club that lost to UConn. He played professionally in Lithuania for two years. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January of 2014.
Smith’s father Curt issued the following statement:
“Andrew packed more living into his 25 years than most of us will enjoy in a full 75 years. He lived his faith, relished his family, selflessly served his wife, and pursued his passion of basketball at the highest levels.”
|Celtics boss Danny Ainge explains why he considers Stephen Curry, not Larry Bird, best shooter of all time||09.24.15 at 1:06 am ET|
Danny Ainge spent nearly eight seasons alongside Larry Bird, the man many consider the greatest shooter in NBA history, so he doesn’t say the following lightly: Stephen Curry is the best shooter he’s ever seen.
Ainge made the observation on Twitter during the playoffs, which ended with Curry’s Warriors claiming the title, and he explained himself earlier this week in an interview with WEEI.com from his Waltham office.
“I think Larry was as good a shooter as I’ve ever seen before Steph. And Ray Allen is up there, too,” Ainge said. “If anybody were to come in and tell me, ‘Larry Bird‘s the best shooter of all time,’ I wouldn’t have much argument. Same with Ray. I probably wouldn’t argue. It’s really close.
“The reason I think Steph is the best shooter of all time is simply the variety of shots he hits. Left-handed running hook shots, reverses, floaters, 3-point shots off the dribble, behind screens. It’s the variety and the degree of difficulty of the shots he hits.”
Ainge, who was no slouch in the shooting department himself (.378 lifetime on 3’s and .846 on free throws), got an up-close-and-personal look at Bird’s ability to score while surrounded by multiple defenders, but for sheer creativity, he’s going with Curry.
“That’s why I think Larry was always my first guy of being the best shooter of all time, up until Steph,” Ainge said. “To me, it was the difficulty of shots he made. I mean, Larry could shoot with two guys draped on him, and I used to play Larry one-on-one often before practice. I would be right on him and turn around, and the ball would be going in the basket. That’s what was always amazing to me, how he was able to create that shot and get that shot off with very little space. I see the same qualities in Steph.”
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