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List: Danny Ainge’s best, worst draft day moves 06.23.11 at 8:37 am ET
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The Celtics’ season has been over for a while now, and if you’re still in mourning, we’re sorry. But it’s times like these when it’s best to look to the future, and in this case, that means Thursday’s NBA draft. The C’s have the 25th pick in a relatively thin class, but as history has shown, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge always is capable of creating some draft day drama. Here are a few of Ainge’s best moves when the Boston is “on the clock” (followed by a few he’d rather have back).

5. Drafting Ryan Gomes in the second round in 2005

Overall, the 2005 NBA draft was a disappointment for the Celtics (see below), but Ainge managed to pluck a promising talent out of the second round. Boston took Ryan Gomes of Providence with the 50th pick, one spot ahead of Robert Whaley and two spots behind Mickael Gelabale. Gomes started 33 games in his first year and 60 his second year, and ended up averaging 12.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 2006-07. In the same fashion as Al Jefferson, Gomes saw his trade value increase with his breakout season, and he eventually was used as one of the many pieces in the Kevin Garnett trade.

Gomes never was a back-to-the-basket player in college and was vastly undersized in the NBA. Still, he’s managed to develop into a solid small forward for the Clippers and is averaging over 10 points per game in his career.

4. Trading for Kendrick Perkins in 2003

In his first year as general manager, Ainge had two first-round picks in one of the most talented draft classes in NBA history. No, he didn’t miraculously trade up for LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, or Dwyane Wade, but he did trade draft picks Dahntay Jones and Troy Bell to the Grizzlies for their first-round picks, Marcus Banks and Kendrick Perkins. You might only recognize one name from that transaction, but KP43 is the only one that mattered.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Georgia Tech G Iman Shumpert 06.22.11 at 9:50 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).

Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert was unable to demonstrate his full potential with a struggling Georgia Tech team last season. (AP)

Iman Shumpert

Position: Guard

School: Georgia Tech

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 212 pounds

Stats: 17.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg 3.5 apg, 2.7 spg

What he brings: Shumpert used his length and athleticism to become one of the ACC’s premier defenders last year, and his quickness makes him very effective in transition and on the dribble-drive. The point guard was more of a facilitator his first two years but started attacking the basket more as a junior. Last year, he led a weak Yellow Jackets squad in most offensive categories, but consistent double-teams forced him into a team-high 72 turnovers. Without much of a supporting cast, Shumpert might not have been able to show his full offensive potential last year. If he can complement his athletic frame with improved shooting and decision-making, the Oak Park, Ill., product could become an asset on both ends of the floor.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “He was in great shape, he was competitive, he worked out well [at last month's NBA draft combine]. He can be a Royal Ivey-type* big guard to come off the bench, be a distributor, that last-option scorer.” — NBA scouting director Ryan Blake

*In seven NBA seasons, Ivey has scored 3.5 points per game and averaged 12.7 minutes.

Notes: Shumpert’s 36.5-inch standing vertical leap at the NBA draft combine was the highest since Nick Young hit 39.5 inches in 2007. The 20-year-old played with the Jazz’ Derrick Favors in his first two years at Georgia Tech but tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he didn’t use Favors as much as he should have. Shumpert left his mark on Georgia Tech with a 22-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist, seven-steal performance against Virginia Tech last January, while holding the Hokies’ top scorer, Malcolm Delaney, to just eight points and eight turnovers.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan G Darius Morris 06.20.11 at 11:03 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).

Darius Morris has good size for a point guard, although he needs to cut down on his turnovers to be successful in the NBA. (AP)

Darius Morris

Position: Guard

School: Michigan

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 190 pounds

Stats: 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.7 rpg

What he brings: Morris was one of the nation’s most improved players last season, leading a young team to within three points of knocking off top-seeded Duke in the third round of the NCAA tournament. The long, athletic point guard averaged over 10 points more than he did his freshman year and nearly tripled his assist total. Scouts have compared Morris to Tyreke Evans because of his ability to overpower defenders and get to the rim. Others say he has the potential to become a more athletic Andre Miller, though doubts have arisen over his quickness and whether or not he’ll be able to stay in front of NBA guards. Morris also had 103 turnovers last year, which led the Wolverines by far.

Like fellow prospect Iman Shumpert, Morris benefits from his size at the point guard position. Unlike Shumpert, however, Morris is more of a pure point guard with a pass-first, playmaking mentality. His jump shot and range could use some work, but if Morris’ decision-making improves as much as it did last year, the Los Angeles native could step into a backup role as early as next season.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “He can go into a crowd and see over everybody, and a lot of guards can’t do that. He’s seeing corner-to-corner when he comes up the floor, and he’s got great quickness and handle.” — Michigan coach John Beilein

Notes: Morris’ decision to declare for the NBA draft after his sophomore season may have been influenced by the “Manny Harris example.” Harris, a former Michigan guard, stayed for his junior year in 2010 and watched his draft stock plummet as he injured his hamstring and gave scouts another season to critique his skill set. As a sophomore last season, Morris recorded the third triple-double in program history with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in a win against Iowa on Jan. 31. The game is featured in the video below.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UCLA G Malcolm Lee 06.17.11 at 5:14 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).

Malcolm Lee looks to become the latest UCLA guard to have success in the NBA. (AP)

Malcolm Lee

Position: Guard

School: UCLA

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 200 pounds

Stats: 13.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.0 apg

What he brings: Although his offensive numbers won’t blow anyone away, Lee follows an impressive line of UCLA guards who have thrived in the NBA, including Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday and Russell Westbrook. With his length and build, Lee passes the “eye test” as a combo guard. He used his lateral quickness to become one of the top defenders in the Pac-10. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native could develop into an effective slasher, as he’s shown an ability to finish strong at the rim with both hands. Lee also demonstrated improvement in the balance and rhythm of his jump shot in recent NBA draft workouts, though he still lacks consistency in that department.

On the negative side, scouts have questioned Lee’s decision-making ability, which certainly is suspect with a career 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. At UCLA, he often committed the cardinal sin of leaving his feet to make passes, which led to giveaways. Without much of a playmaking mentality, Lee could have to make his living off the ball, but he might not have enough size to match up with the NBA’s premier 2 guards.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “He can go into an NBA game right now and guard a 1 or a 2 as well as anyone coming out of college. I can’t say enough great things. I think [Lee] will play in the NBA.” — UCLA coach Ben Howland

Notes: Despite his praise for Lee, Howland told Sporting News that Lee should have stayed for his senior year. According to The Los Angeles Times, Howland thought the potential NBA lockout would affect Lee’s decision to enter the draft, especially because he was not projected to be a top 15 pick.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Ohio State G David Lighty 06.17.11 at 7:50 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).

David Lighty has been a leader for Ohio State the past four years. (AP)

David Lighty

Position: Guard

School: Ohio State

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 220 pounds

Stats: 12.1 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 spg, 42.9 3pt%

What he brings: Although he was somewhat overshadowed in the stat department by Buckeyes stars Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Jon Diebler, Lighty’s value stems from his NBA-ready defense and decision-making ability. The senior made very few mental mistakes last season and effectively led a young Ohio State squad with his experience and stability. NBA scouts have indicated they expect Lighty to bring the same kind of stability to the pros, and his combination of strong defense and steady 3-point shooting reminds some of Bruce Bowen.

On the other hand, past ACL and foot injuries have limited Lighty’s quickness, and he could struggle to make plays in transition. Lighty hasn’t shown the athleticism or ball-handling ability to make plays in one-on-one situations, and he likely would be a fourth or fifth scoring option on the floor. Still, he could end up being a Landry Fields-type second-round steal. That is, a hard-working, potential-packed player who understands his role and fits well into an NBA roster.

Where the Celtics could get him: Second round

What they’re saying: “I think they should put a statue in front of the Schottenstein Center of David Lighty, just what he’s meant to this program, not only on the court. I’ve always said this, David Lighty, he’s been here for five years and I don’t think he’s ever gotten close to the credit he deserves for the player he is, just the kid he is. You don’t do the things that he’s done during his career here.” — Ohio State coach Thad Matta

Notes: Lighty was recruited to Ohio State with Greg Oden, Daequan Cook and Mike Conley Jr. After the Buckeyes fell to Florida in the 2007 NCAA title game, Lighty stayed in school while the other three freshmen entered the NBA as first-round picks. The Spurs reportedly have interest in Lighty.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Richmond F Justin Harper 06.17.11 at 7:49 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).

Justin Harper has earned comparisons to Kevin Durant for his scoring prowess. (AP)

Justin Harper

Position: Forward

School: Richmond

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 225 pounds

Stats: 17.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 44.8 3pt%

What he brings: Harper is that valuable breed of forward that provides size inside and shooting range on the perimeter. The senior’s stats may have been a bit inflated because Richmond plays in the Atlantic 10, but advanced statistics ranks him as one of the most efficient scorers in the nation, near the likes of Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving. With Harper’s fluid movement and ability to get inside, some draft experts say he is the closest thing college basketball has seen to Kevin Durant since the former Texas star left for the NBA. While that assessment probably is a stretch, Harper’s size will allow him to shoot over most defenders, even at the next level.

Still, some critics say Harper hasn’t taken full advantage of his potential. While seven rebounds a game is a solid count, scouts expect a few more blocks from a player of Harper’s size and athleticism. He’s also been accused of “falling in love” with his jump shot, and he will have to show more toughness in the paint to compete in the pros. At the very least, Harper could have success in the NBA running a pick-and-pop and knocking down 18-foot jumpers, but he’ll need to develop an inside game to break into a consistent starting role.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “I think when teams get to see how well he moves, how well he dribbles, just how effortless his shooting is, it’s really going to impress people. There aren’t many guys his size — it’s not even close — that are that fluid. It’s a very rare for a player to have all of those abilities. … He’s clearly one of the best shooters in the country, and again, it’s so unique given his size.” — Richmond coach Chris Mooney

Notes: Harper led the Spiders to an A-10 title and Sweet 16 berth in the 2011 NCAA tournament after upsetting fifth-seeded Vanderbilt in the second round. He scored 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting in Richmond’s season-ending, 20-point loss to top-seeded Kansas. Harper’s father, Ollie, scored 1,300 career points for Niagara in the 1970s and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.

Video:

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