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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Oakland C Keith Benson 06.22.11 at 9:34 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Oakland center Keith Benson is regarded as the top mid-major prospect in this year's draft. (AP)

Keith Benson

Position: Center

School: Oakland (Mich.)

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 230 pounds

Stats: 17.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.6 bpg

What he brings: Benson has a lot of athleticism considering his size and can run the floor well. He is a solid guy in a half-court offense. He can post up and has a nice hook shot, but also he has shown that he can shoot a mid-range jump shot and create his shot on his own. Benson is a solid rebounder on both ends of the court and plays the game with a great deal of intensity. One thing that Benson needs to work on is his strength. At only 230 pounds, he needs to get stronger so he can hold his own in the paint.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “From that day on, boy, we knew that this kid, that he’s a long way away but he’s got it in him. It was the most unbelievable thing I’ve seen in the game.” — Oakland coach Greg Kampe, after a dunk Benson had in practice

Notes: The Detroit Free Press ran a profile on Benson, who likely will be the first Oakland player ever to be drafted. In 2011, he was named Summit League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He is the Summit League record-holder in blocked shots (371). In 2010 Benson was the Lou Henson Award winner, given to the nation’s top mid-major player. His nickname is “Kito.”

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NBA mock draft roundup: Who the experts say the Celtics will select 06.22.11 at 1:45 pm ET
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Some draft experts are predicting that Boston College guard Reggie Jackson will be the Celtics' first-round pick. (AP)

The 2011 NBA draft is scheduled for Thursday night, with the Celtics holding picks No. 25 (first round) and 55 (second round).

The Celtics have used the draft for players that have played a significant role in the team’s growth. They selected Paul Pierce in the first round back in 1998. They also selected Jeff Green in the first round of the 2007 draft before trading him to the SuperSonics in a deal that got the Celtics Ray Allen. Other notable Celtics draft picks of late include Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody last year, Ryan Gomes in 2005 and Al Jefferson, Delonte West and Tony Allen in 2004.

Many draft experts have weighed in with their thoughts about how this draft will play out, with no consensus on which direction the Celtics will go.

ESPN’s Chad Ford writes that the Celtics will take enigmatic center Jeremy Tyler. Tyler decided to try playing professional basketball in Israel after his junior year of high school in San Diego. It didn’t work out for him, so he took his talents to Japan to play in that country’s professional basketball league.

Noted Ford: “The Celtics are going to start rebuilding soon, and they need to hit a home run again the same way they did with Rajon Rondo. Tyler could be that guy. If he had played in college, he might have had a chance to be a top-10 pick with his talent.”

In the second round, Ford has the Celtics taking Jamine Peterson, a forward who played two seasons at Providence before jumping to the NBDL last year.

Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick has the Celtics staying local and selecting Boston College guard Reggie Jackson. “Apparently, the Celtics aren’t concerned about Jackson’s minor knee surgery in mid-May, as a source insists he won’t get past Boston,” Amick wrote. “He would need some grooming, but the lengthy, two-way player could eventually be a dynamic option behind Rajon Rondo.”

Fox Sports’ mock draft has the Celtics taking forward Trey Thompkins out of Georgia at No. 25, noting that Thompkins has some solid offensive skills. “Thompkins is a highly skilled offensive player with a pretty jump shot and range out to the college 3. He doesn’t wow you with athleticism, but his skill level is that of an NBA vet. He has struggled some this year without a playmaker setting him up, but remains a refined big man with solid potential.”

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Washington G Isaiah Thomas 06.22.11 at 7:04 am ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Washington guard Isaiah Thomas has drawn comparisons to former Celtic Nate Robinson. (AP)

Isaiah Thomas

Position: Guard

School: Washington

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 185 pounds

Stats: 16.8 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.5 rpg

What he brings: His lack of size (5-9) has drawn comparisons to former Huskies guard and current NBA player Nate Robinson. Thomas is most known for his ball handling. He is very good with the ball, using both hands, his natural left and his right. He is a pretty good shooter from the outside and has a nice arc on his shot. His height prevents him from having a major impact on the boards, but he does have quick reactions and is quick to loose balls. He is a very good on-ball defender as well, with quick feet.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round (or second)

What they’re saying: “He’s always been doubted because of his size, and this will be the ultimate experience for him to go out and obtain his goal.” — Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, on Thomas’ decision to leave school a year early

Notes: The Seattle Times ran a feature story on Thomas and his legacy at Washington. He leaves the school as the third all-time leading scorer in the program’s history. He was named after NBA legend Isiah Thomas, but his mother wanted his named spelled Isaiah because she wanted a biblical name. Thomas spent two years prepping at South Kent School in Connecticut.

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Lawrence Frank ‘blew away’ Pistons in coaching interview 06.20.11 at 2:04 pm ET
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After interviewing for a few other head coaching jobs this offseason, current Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank recently interviewed with the Pistons. According to the Toronto Sun, Frank “blew away” the Pistons during his interview last Wednesday.

Other finalists for the Pistons job are current Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, former Hawks coach Mike Woodson and former Pistons player and current Timberwolves assistant Bill Laimbeer.

Frank, who recently wrapped up his first season as an assistant coach with the Celtics, was the head coach of the Nets from 2004-09.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Washington F Justin Holiday 06.19.11 at 9:33 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Justin Holiday, brother of 76ers guard Jrue Holiday, was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year this past season. (AP)

Justin Holiday

Position: Forward

School: Washington

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 185 pounds

Stats: 10.5 ppg, 2.1 apg, 5.2 rpg

What he brings: The long and athletic swingman is known mostly for his defense, and he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. His toughness and his aggressiveness also help him on the boards. Holiday has improved a great deal over his college career on the offensive end of the court, as he has developed a good outside shot, especially for a guy his size. He also is a pretty good passer for a forward.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round (or second)

What they’re saying: “He can play the 3 or the 4 and tends to gives people fits with his athleticism. Nothing has changed since I had him. I think his versatility is what separates him from the others and makes him attractive to minds in the NBA.” — Terry Kelly, Holiday’s high school coach

Notes: Holiday was nicknamed “The Fireman” by his teammates for his defensive intensity and rebounding. His brother, Jrue Holiday, starts at point guard for the 76ers.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Purdue G E’Twaun Moore 06.15.11 at 12:35 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

E'Twaun Moore can score, but he faces a challenge at the next level as he likely will need to play the point. (AP)

E‘Twaun Moore

Position: Guard

School: Purdue

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 190 pounds

Stats: 18 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.2 apg

What he brings: Moore is a solid all-around player who knows how to score. He is most effective when taking the ball to the basket, rather than settling for jump shots. Although he has improved his shooting during his time at Purdue, he still is not considered a great outside shooter.

Moore would probably be a point guard in the NBA, as he is too small to be a shooting guard. He needs to work on his ballhanding and passing skills but has shown improvement in those areas of the game. He is also a very good defender and a very strong defensive rebounder for a guy his size.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round (or second)

What they’re saying: “I know once he gets that rhythm going and steps back and hits a 3 and once he smiles, you know he has it going.” — Purdue guard Lewis Jackson

Notes: Moore became the fourth player in Big Ten history to tally 2,000 points (2,136), 500 rebounds (611) and 350 assists (400) in a career. He also is Purdue’s third all-time leading scorer. He also holds records at Purdue for most minutes played (4,517), 3-point field-goals made (243), games won (107), games played (140) and starts (137).

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Georgia F Trey Thompkins 06.14.11 at 6:53 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Trey Thompkins has a good low-post presence, but there are questions about his fitness and desire. (AP)

Trey Thompkins

Position: Forward

School: Georgia

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 240 pounds

Stats: 16.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg

What he brings: Thompkins is a solid big man who has good hands and a nice touch. He lacks athleticism but makes up for it with his solid offensive game. He is most effective in the halfcourt offense, where he can knock down a jump shot or post up on the block. He is also very comfortable with the pick-and-pop play. He isn’t much of a shot blocker but uses his length and soft hands to rebound well.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round

What they’re saying: “He’s got a high basketball IQ, but I think it’d be fair to say that most people in the league want to make sure that he’s ready for the physicality of the NBA on a nightly basis as a power forward. I think he went a long way today to show us he can do that.” — 76ers director of player personnel Courtney Witte, after Thompkins worked out for the team in early June

Notes: In 2009, Thompkins was the the second-leading scorer on USA Basketball’s U-19 team, which went 9-0 and won the World Championships in New Zealand. In 2010, he was part of the U.S. select team that scrimmaged for two weeks against the national team, which was made up of NBA players. The Hawks drafted his father, Howard Thompkins Jr., in 1981.

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