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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Team’s biggest needs 06.23.14 at 10:28 am ET
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With Celtics fans focused on the fantasy of acquiring players like Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, it’€™s easy to forget the plentiful attractive options in the 2014 NBA draft. With two first-round selections and the versatility to move or add more picks, fans should still be excited about the chance of building through the draft.

That’€™s one reason I published my 2014 NBA Draft Guide as a means of putting all of my research into one convenient 115-page package for fans and readers to download. This article includes a more in-depth look at what’€™s included for each club in the “€œteam needs”€ section of the book, but watch the video above to find out what else is included in the guide, which can be downloaded by clicking here.

The Celtics roster needs a lot of work this summer, but the three biggest draft needs are a rim protector, a sharpshooter and a go-to scorer. Below are five options for each need that could be addressed with either the No. 6 or 17 pick. Click on each player’s name to discover a more complete draft profile.

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Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Aaron Gordon, Boston Celtics, Dante Exum
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Australia G Dante Exum 06.20.14 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.

DANTE EXUM

Position: Combo guard
Country: Australia
Age: 18
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 196 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-9.5

Key 2013-14 stats (FIBA U19): 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists

Scouting report: Once a mystery man of the 2014 draft, Exum is now one of the stars and is even being discussed as a potential top-three selection — for good reason. Exum is a mastermind with the ball in his hands, possessing an elite first step with advanced dribble moves.

Even though he must continue to work on incorporating his off-hand, the talent is obviously there as he can penetrate the paint and get to the rim at will. This is where Exum excels, as he is able to finish creatively or dish it out to a teammate for an assist opportunity.

Exum still needs to develop his jumper, but he has already shown the ability to adjust his body while airborne, which is a skill many players his age don’€™t have. If he’€™s able to progress his perimeter skills, he could become a lethal scorer from all areas of the court.

On the defensive end, Exum is raw, as he doesn’t stay in his stance and often gets burned, especially off the ball. But with exceptional lateral quickness and long arms, he projects as someone who will eventually develop into an effective player that can defend multiple positions.

Exum might just be the steal of this year’€™s top 10. He has enough skill to be the best player from this draft class, but the limited amount of scouting opportunities certainly lessens the confidence one can have in that statement.

How he fits: Exum could slide in as a starter at either guard position, but he would more likely work as a backup behind both Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, giving the front office time to assess how to handle their future at the position.

Related articles:

Sporting News: The four games that made Dante Exum

Boston Globe: Dante Exum is an X factor from Australia

Video: NBA Draft video scouting report

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 60-page 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Dante Exum,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Cape Verde C Walter Tavares 06.19.14 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.

WALTER TAVARES

Position: Center
Country:  Cape Verde
Age: 22
Height: 7-foot-3
Weight: 265 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-8.5

Key 2013-14 stats (ACB Spain): 6.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks

Scouting report: Let’€™s not split hairs: Tavares is a monster. At 7-foot-3 with a gargantuan 92.5-inch wingspan, the Cape Verdean big man is quickly rising up draft boards because of his size. Yet, it’€™s not just his height that has teams excited, because he has abnormally quick feet, which gives him potential as a star pick-and-roll defender.

But he might be years away from ever making that type of impact since he picked up a basketball for the first time in 2010 and is still learning how to play the game and how to use his strength. Tavares is a bit of a gentle giant and occasionally gets overpowered in a David vs. Goliath fashion. Likewise, as you would expect from such an inexperienced player, his fundamentals are poor, as he allows deep post positioning and misses rotations on the defensive end.

Despite the flaws, Tavares has already shown enough potential to warrant consideration as a late first-round pick. With his size and rebounding ability, only his mindset stand in the way of him making an impact in the NBA. If teams believe he has the right attitude to learn, then it would be surprising if he weren’€™t playing consistent minutes in a few years.

How he fits: The Celtics would get the rim protector they so desperately desire, but they’€™d have to wait at least one year for him to really make an impact. Tavares works out with the team this week, and they’ll likely decide whether they really want to draft him or not.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Scouting Spain: Which international bigs could the Celtics have interest in drafting?

NBA.com: Walter Tavares prospect analysis

Video: Walter Tavares video scouting report

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 60-page 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Walter Tavares,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan State G Gary Harris 06.18.14 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.

GARY HARRIS

Position: Combo guard
SchoolMichigan State
Age: 19
Height: 6-foot-4.5
Weight: 205 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-8

Key 2013-14 stats: 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists

Scouting report: Harris is one of the best defenders in the draft and can easily defend multiple positions despite being undersized. He’€™s a lockdown defender in man-to-man situations, but also is excellent off-ball, constantly displaying top-notch awareness by hitting his rotations and by sticking to players running through screens.

The 19-year-old also has complementary scoring skills on the offensive end, as he is an improving 3-point shooter and ball-handler. Some teams even project him as a “modern point guard” because he is a solid passer and tends to make the right play in pick-and-roll situations.

Harris does have his problems as a scorer, though, as he was extremely inefficient in the half-court, with only a 49.5 effective field goal percentage and a 43.1 at-rim field goal percentage, according to Hoop-Math.com. Part of the reason for those struggles is his lack of a floater or mid-range game to compensate for his finishing ability at the rim.

Overall, Harris has a lot of skill at his age and should continue to improve on the offensive end. Even if he doesn’t, his defense is still good enough for him to carve out a role as a defensive specialist.

How he fits: Harris could work as a contingency plan in case Avery Bradley can’t be re-signed or is used in a sign-and-trade deal. Harris brings a similar skill set and could potentially have even higher upside than Bradley.

Related articles:

ESPN Insider: Why Harris is a lottery pick

SB Nation: The big Gary Harris scouting report: The 3-and-D prototype

Video: Gary Harris pre-draft workout and interview

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 60-page 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Gary Harris,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UConn PG Shabazz Napier 06.13.14 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.

SHABAZZ NAPIER

Position: Point guard
School: Connecticut
Age: 22
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 175 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-3

Key 2013-14 stats: 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists

Scouting report: Napier, a Roxbury native, ended his collegiate career in spectacular fashion by winning his second national championship with UConn. Yet he’€™s only projected as a late first-round pick because of his small stature and limited upside.

A 40.5 percent 3-point shooter, Napier was one of the most dynamic and clutch scorers in college basketball last season. He gets his shots off so quickly and can score with a hand in his face, which bodes well for his potential in the pros. He can attack closeouts and pull up from mid-range, and he’€™s a fantastic ball-handler who can get anywhere with the ball.

But everything boils down to two things with Napier: his size and passing skills. Even though Napier battles hard on defense, he’€™s small, so he’€™s limited and will get burned by larger guards in the pros. This hinders his ability to start, as teams may be able to exploit him.

And Napier’s not exactly the most skilled passer, with a relatively average 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. He misses a lot of open teammates because he’s so focused on scoring, but it’s difficult to tell if he’s just a product of his environment (he’s told to score) or he’s actually unable to properly read the play. If it’s the latter, there are concerns about a coach’s ability to trust him running an offense.

Despite that, there’s a chance that Napier is being underrated by the masses, since elite scoring comes at a premium in the NBA. He was an elite college scorer, and his shooting will certainly translate to the pros. It may not matter that he might not be able to pass at a high level, because his role will be to come off the bench and score.

How he fits: Danny Ainge has employed a sparkplug scorer off the bench virtually every year in his tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations, and Napier could fill that role quite well as a pro.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Gunslingers of the future

Boston Globe: UConn’€™s Shabazz Napier proud to be from Roxbury

Video: Here is a video of Napier’€™s senior year highlights.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 60-page 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, NBA, Shabazz Napier
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Bosnia C Jusuf Nurkic 06.12.14 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.

JUSUF NURKIC

Position: Center
Country: Bosnia
Age: 19
Height: 6-foot-11
Weight: 280 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2013-14 stats (Adriatic League): 11.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 34.6 PER

Scouting report: Only 19 years old, Nurkic is one of the most dominant players in the talented Adriatic League. He only plays 15.4 minutes per game, but produced a 34.6 PER during that time this season, which is why he’€™s a projected first-round draft pick.

He may be chubby, but Nurkic has some of the quickest feet of the bigs in the draft, giving him potential as a rim protector. Using his long 86-inch wingspan, Nurkic is able to quickly hedge on the pick and roll and get back to the paint in time to protect the rim. He doesn’t block a lot of shots since his vertical is underwhelming, but he’s able to deter shots due to his presence.

But Nurkic’s offense is arguably the most appealing. He’€™s young and has a savvy post game, including a virtually unblockable spin into a jump hook go-to move. He has outstanding footwork and does a great job “finding the blue sky,” even if he’€™s not dunking over defenders.

Nurkic’s warts as a player stem from mental mistakes; he’s extremely foul prone (7.9 per 40 minutes), since he jumps at the sight of any movement and carelessly hacks opponents. He also seems to get down on himself and overreacts to bad calls by complaining to the referees or ignoring his coaches. Will Nurkic be able to endure the trials and tribulations of the NBA? If he can, he may turn out to be a steal on draft night.

How he fits: Drafting Nurkic with the No. 17 pick would give the Celtics a true center prospect they could draft and stash for two years as he develops his skills.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Adriatic League final four analysis

Fansided: Is Jusuf Nurkic the next Nikoloz Tskitishvili?

Video: Here is a video scouting report of Nurkic.

(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, Jusuf Nurkic, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Oklahoma State G Marcus Smart 06.11.14 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.

MARCUS SMART

Position: Guard
School: Oklahoma State
Age: 20
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 227 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-9

Key 2013-14 stats: 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists

Scouting report: Smart is one of the best perimeter defenders in this year’€™s class. He’€™s a total bully on-ball and rarely allows ball-handlers to get by him. It’€™s a virtual lock that NBA teams will be able to assign him to an opponent’€™s best player with the mission of locking them down. Smart also racks up steals at a high rate because of his intelligent off-ball defense, on-point rotations and instincts.

Smart’€™s bulldog mentality also applies to the offensive end, where he powers his way to the rim with the ball and draws fouls on over half of his field goal attempts. He’€™s so skilled at finding space and scoring near the rim, but there are concerns about his perimeter jumper. He has a bit of a clunky form and may struggle shooting at the beginning of his career, but his penetration skills may be good enough to compensate.

In terms of position, Smart can clearly defend point and shooting guards, but where he’€™ll play on offense is up in the air. He lacks the true point guard skills in that he’€™s an average passer, but that’€™s the case for so many point guards in today’€™s NBA. Since he’€™s only 6-foot-3, he’€™ll probably mostly play point and flourish.

How he fits: Drafting Smart would give the Celtics “time.” How’€™s that? They wouldn’t be forced to make a decision between Avery Bradley and Jeff Green the way they might if they draft a wing. Bringing Smart to Boston allows him to slide in behind both Bradley and Rajon Rondo, giving the Celtics front office time to make a decision on Rondo’€™s future with the team.

Related articles:

Dean On Draft: Marcus Smart vs. Andrew Wiggins: Who was the best Big 12 perimeter defender?

Fansided: NBA Draft 2014: Forget Dante Exum, what about Marcus Smart?

Video: Here is a video of Smart’€™s pre-draft workout.

(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, Marcus Smart, NBA
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