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NBA draft prospect profile: Oklahoma SG Buddy Hield 06.20.16 at 11:50 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

BUDDY HIELD

Position: Shooting guard

School: Oklahoma

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 212 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-9

Key 2015-16 stats: 25.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Scouting report: Simply put, Hield is one of the premier scorers available in this year’s draft. After Hield shot 45.7 percent from behind the 3-point line, NBAdraft.net writes that he is “a player that needs to be guarded out to 26 feet away from the hoop.” Hield also tends to play his best in big games — his 46-point performance in a triple-overtime loss at Kansas is just one of many examples. During his four years at Oklahoma, the shooting guard has vastly improved his ball-handling, often dribbling out of trouble or past defenders to the rim.

In an interview with ESPN’s Heather Cox, Hield discussed the benefits of staying in college although he likely would have been a top pick in last year’s draft.

“It just helped me be a better player,” Hield said. “A better person on and off the court and just helped me to better my game a lot. And my coaches have picked up on my weaknesses, so I used that to get better.”

The knock on Hield, is his defense. Hield will be somewhat undersized at the shooting guard position in the NBA, and although his defensive fundamentals are improved, his defense isn’t strong enough to make up for his lack of size. Also, his lateral quickness is just adequate, so he may have issues keeping up with the athletic guards at the next level. He has been mentioned as a possibility to the Celtics at No. 3.

Notes: Hield, who led the nation in scoring with 25.0 ppg, won the John R. Wooden Award, the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year and the Big 12 Player of the Year. A consensus first-team All-American, he finished his career as the Big 12’s all-time leading scorer, and ranks second at OU in total points with 2,291. … Hield helped carry the Sooners to the Final Four in 2016 before they were defeated by eventual champion Villanova. … Earlier this month Hield set a Celtics workout record by hitting 85 out of 100 3-pointers. … Hield is a native of the Bahamas. He came to America to attend high school in Kansas.

Related articles:

The Oklahoman: Where will Buddy Hield go in the NBA draft?

USA Today: Why NBA scouts are misreading Buddy Hield, just like they did Steph Curry

CBS Sports: Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield fueled by his roots of growing up in the Bahamas

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Buddy Hield,
NBA draft prospect profile: Kentucky PG Tyler Ulis 06.20.16 at 9:16 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

TYLER ULIS

Position: Point guard

School: Kentucky

Age: 20

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 149 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-2

Key 2015-16 stats: 17.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists

Scouting report: Ulis was one of the premier point guards in college basketball this past season. The sophomore was in charge of one of the top offenses in the nation and he ran it with a significant amount of freedom.

“I’ve coached a lot of great leaders and great point guards in all my years of coaching. Tyler Ulis is the best floor general that I’ve ever coached,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said when Ulis declared for the draft. “What I loved is he grew into that position. You couldn’t speed him up and you couldn’t slow him down unless he wanted to do one of those things. He coached the team this season as much as I did, and I’m proud to say that.”

Whether it is in transition or in half-court offense, Ulis is intelligent with the ball in his hands and is able to run the offense efficiently by using excellent court vision and striking a balance between distributing the ball and keeping the rock for himself. When the ball is in his hands, Ulis uses his superior ball handling and array of dribbling moves to create space, but what is most attractive about Ulis is his explosiveness and quickness that allow him to set the pace to the offense.

The big concern about Ulis, the second-shortest player at the combine at 5-foot-10, is if he can succeed at the next level against taller and stronger guards. He is projected to be drafted in the early to middle part of the second round.

Notes: Ulis was named the SEC Player of the Year, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. In this year’s SEC championship game, Ulis played all 45 minutes of the overtime game, posting a career-high 30 points, and was named the SEC Tournament MVP. Kentucky was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the round of 32 by Indiana, but in that contest Ulis scored 27 points. 

Related articles: 

Courier-Journal: Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis eager to prove himself again 

CBS Sports: Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis may be one of the grittiest players in the NBA draft 

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Tyler Ulis,
Kyrie Irving, LeBron James lead Cavaliers to NBA championship 06.19.16 at 10:49 pm ET
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LeBron James got the better of Shaun Livingston and the Warriors in Game 7 Sunday night. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

LeBron James got the better of Shaun Livingston and the Warriors in Game 7 Sunday night. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Cleveland finally has its championship. Kyrie Irving’s 3-pointer with 53 seconds left broke an 89-89 tie and gave the Cavaliers the lead for good. The final result was a 93-89, Game 7 victory over Golden State, giving Cleveland its first NBA title. The Cavs not only become the first team in NBA history to comeback from a 3-1 deficit, but brings Cleveland its first professional sports championship in 52 years. Leading the way for Cleveland was LeBron James, became the third player in NBA history to claim a triple-double in an NBA Finals Game 7, scoring 27 points while grabbing 11 points and dishing out 11 assists. Irving finished with 26 points. James was named series MVP. The game was sealed after a missed 3-pointer by Steph Curry with two seconds remaining. Curry struggled all night, finishing the night going just 6-for-19 from the field, and 4-for-14 from beyond the 3-point stripe. Draymond Green led the Warriors with 32 points and 15 rebounds. Click here for a complete recap.

NBA draft prospect profile: Syracuse SG/SF Malachi Richardson 06.19.16 at 5:52 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

MALACHI RICHARDSON

Position: Shooting guard/small forward

School: Syracuse

Age: 20

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 200 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-0

Key 2015-16 stats: 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists

Scouting report: Richardson only shot 36 percent from the field last season as a freshman, but he dramatically improved his stock after an impressive NCAA Tournament performance and a strong workout for NBA scouts that reportedly has him soaring up some draft boards. He could go as high as the late lottery.

Those who believe Richardson can become an elite scorer in the NBA point to his size, ability to get to the rim and the fact that he can easily get separation to create his own shot.

Detractors are quick to point out that Richardson displayed a selfish streak this past season, and he had as many turnovers a game as he did assists. On defense, Richardson was known to gamble, which often led to him getting called for a foul.

“He can really shoot the basketball,” an NBA GM told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford. “He just took a lot of bad shots. He’s wild. His decision-making still isn’t there, but the talent level and physical tools to get it don’t are there. I think he’s got some star potential.”

Notes: Richardson was named to the ACC All-Rookie Team. … In the NCAA Tournament, Richardson had 21 points against Dayton in the first round, and in the Elite Eight he had 23 points, 21 of which came in the second half, in a win over Virginia.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Malachi Richardson is the champion of the eye test at the 216 NBA draft

Democrat & Chronicle: Malachi Richardson exits; Boeheim slams agents, experts

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Malachi Richardson,
NBA draft prospect profile: Washington PG/SG Dejounte Murray 06.19.16 at 2:39 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s 2016 NBA draft coverage, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DEJOUNTE MURRAY

Position: Point guard/shooting guard

School: Washington

Age: 19 (turns 20 on Sept. 19)

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 170 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-9

Key 2015-16 stats: 16.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists

Scouting report: Murray, who is turning pro after his freshman season, has shown that he has some raw athleticism that allows him to attack the rim and be a dangerous threat in transition. Murray tends to rely on his floater, but he did convert 45 percent of his floaters this year, according to Synergy Sports Technologies. Murray’s most significant flaw is the inconsistency of his jump shot, as he shot only 41 percent from the field and 29 percent from the 3-point line. Also working against Murray is the fact that he averaged 3.2 turnovers a game.

On defense, Murray has the necessary instincts and length to be a good defender, but he needs work on the fundamentals. The team that drafts him for his potential will want Murray to spend time improving his defense as well as getting stronger. Murray declined an invite to the combine, so scouts were unable to see if he has made any progress in his game. He is projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to early second round.

Notes: Murray was named second-team All-Pac 12. … Clippers guard Jamal Crawford went to the same high school (Rainer Beach, Wash.) as Murray and the two have become close friends. 

Related articles:

Seattle Times: NBA executive evaluates Dejounte Murray’s and Marquese Chriss’ pro potential

24/7 Sports: Jamal Crawford continuing to mentor UW’s Murray

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Dejounte Murray,
NBA draft prospect profile: Maryland C Diamond Stone 06.19.16 at 11:38 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DIAMOND STONE

Position: Center

School: Maryland

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 254 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 12.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 56.8 field goal percentage

Scouting report: Stone comes into the NBA draft equipped with a 9-foot-1 reach and a 7-foot-3 inch wingspan, suggesting that he can be an intimidating presence in the paint for years to come. He is a mobile big man who can run the floor to score in transition thanks to his agility and great hands, and the potential to become a top NBA rebounder is there.

Besides the physical attributes and rebounding ability, the Milwaukee native has been showcasing his jump shot for NBA scouts and coaches while working to reduce his body fat.

“That’s the big thing people don’t know. I can shoot the 3,” Stone said (via The Washington Post). “I couldn’t really show it at Maryland just due to the fact that I played my role. … My body has changed. I’m 260 [pounds] right now, but the muscle is starting to build, and I’m feeling great about myself.”

One of the big problems with Stone despite a successful freshman campaign was his conditioning, so it’s important that he continues to work on his body. His desire has also been called into question, often not shuffling his feet on defense or taking plays off. NBA teams may be hesitant to select a guy who may not give 100 percent all the time.

Notes: Stone won AP Big Ten Newcomer of the Year and was a third-team All-Big Ten selection. The center sits third in Maryland history in blocks by a freshman in a season with 56. A former McDonald’s All-American, Stone won Big Ten Player of the Week in January and led the Terrapins to a Sweet 16 berth.

Related articles:

The Baltimore Sun: Armed with jump shot and trim physique, Diamond Stone looks to wow NBA scouts

24/7 Sports: Diamond Stone ready to begin NBA workouts

Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: Striving to be a draft Diamond, former Dominican star preps at IMG

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Diamond Stone,
Full Court Press: What Game 7 could mean to future of Celtics, Warriors try not to join 2007 Patriots 06.18.16 at 9:42 pm ET
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Jun 16, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) reacts after being called for a foul in the second quarter in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love could be rejoicing after Game 7. Will it be his final game for Cleveland? (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Danny Ainge, son Austin and head coach Brad Stevens don’t have a horse in the race but they will be watching Game 7 of the NBA finals Sunday night with more than just a passing interest.

A pair of scoring forwards could be on the move after the game, and both have been rumored on the radar of the Celtics.  

Cleveland’s Kevin Love could be playing his final game in Cleveland if they decide to unload him this offseason. He has four years and approximately $93 million left on his $113 million deal, which includes a $25 million kiss in the final season (2019-20), when he will be 31. 

Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, 24, could be a much cheaper option. He is due a qualifying offer of about $5.2 million and is in the same contractual boat as Jared Sullinger. Both are set to become restricted free agents after next season but both could be cut loose after this season. Barnes has already rejected a four-year, $64 million deal, turning down the Warriors last September. 

Both players are represented by agent Jeff Schwartz, the same rep for projected No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram. Danny Ainge reportedly met recently with Schwartz and, while it certainly would not be uncommon for Ainge to talk with agents before next Thursday’s draft, it would be tampering for him to publicly discuss players currently under contract with other teams. 

A quick glance at Love’s stats in the NBA finals and it’s easy to understand why Celtics fans are so very skeptical of bringing his $93 million anchor to Boston. He’s averaged just seven points and 21 minutes in five games (DNP Gm 3). He’s again been beset by injuries (concussion) but when he has played, he’s looked out of place. It’s up to the Celtics to determine if that mostly because he’s being misused and kept on the perimeter or if he’s not looking for his shot. He is shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor in the finals and 38 percent in the postseason. On the bright side, he is averaging 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in 19 playoff games heading into Game 7 in Oakland. 

By comparison, Barnes is coming off his worst game of the postseason, missing all eight shots in Thursday’s Game 6 loss in Cleveland. He was held scoreless in 16 minutes. In Games 1, 3 and 4, he was in double figures and a key part of Golden State wins in two of them. But he went 2-for-14 in Game 5 last Monday and 0-for-8 on Thursday, making him 2-for-22 in potential title-clinching games so far. He is averaging nine points and 4.8 rebounds in 31 minutes during the playoffs. He is someone to keep an eye on in Game 7 if the Warriors need some offense. The “Death Lineup” has been exactly that to Barnes’ hopes of promoting his value to potential suitors this summer. 

We haven’t even mentioned the fact that LeBron James is a free agent this summer as well. There always exists the possibility that James could leave Cleveland, especially if the Cavs come back and finish off the first 3-1 comeback in NBA finals history. Not likely, but then again, it is LeBron and worth mentioning, even if in passing. 

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 NBA Finals, Boston Celtics, Harrison Barnes
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