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NBA draft prospect profile: Croatia C Ante Zizic 06.12.16 at 12:23 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, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

ANTE ZIZIC

Position: Center

Country: Croatia (Cibona)

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 254 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 13.4 points, 8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks

Scouting report: A big body in the paint for Cibona in the Adriatic League, the 19-year-old Zizic broke into professional basketball in Croatia at just 16 years old. His body is of ample size to play in the paint in the NBA, but at the same time he is somewhat limited in versatility as he can only play the center position. He has great positioning around the rim, making him an above-average player at grabbing rebounds, a statistic in which he lead the league. He is not afraid to play hard in the paint on both ends of the floor, and is more than capable of playing very low in the post.

“I am a type of modern center,” Zizic said (via Draft Express). “I run the floor very well. I can finish with strong dunks. In defense I can close down the paint. I have the ability to block shots, collect rebounds. Effort is something you must have. It’s like other basketball skills. It is something natural. I was born with it.”

Though his shooting ability does not stretch much further than a mid-range jumper, he is a solid free throw shooter, shooting 70 percent from the line this season. That said, his offensive strength is finishing above the rim with good timing as a result of his ability to create space for himself. He is projected to be selected late in the first round.

Notes: Zizic’s older brother by 17 years, Andrija, has made his mark in European basketball, playing with Olympiakos and Barcelona, among others. Andrija also played for Croatia at the national level, and currently plays alongside Ante (usually coming off the bench backing him up) for Cibona. … Zizic is part of a “Golden Generation” of 1997-Croatian-born prospects, the likes of which includes Dragan Bender.

Related articles:

Yahoo! Sports: Getting to know Ante Zizic

Bleacher Report: Celtics draft may have foreign flavor

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Ante Zizic,
NBA draft prospect profile: Oklahoma SG Isaiah Cousins 06.12.16 at 9:27 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.

ISAIAH COUSINS

Position: Shooting guard

School: Oklahoma

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 191 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-6

Key 2015-16 stats: 12.6 points, 4.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds

Scouting report: Cousins improved his draft stock after a strong performance at the NBA combine scrimmages, and he is projected to go in the middle to latter part of the second round to a team looking for a backup who can play either guard spot. Over his college career Cousins improved his shooting ability, and in his senior year he converted 41 percent of his 3-pointers — his third straight season shooting over 40 percent from 3. Cousins also has been praised for his toughness that has allowed him to be a solid defender and aggressive with the ball.

“He enjoys beating people up when he has the basketball better than any player I ever coached,” said Mount Vernon High School coach Bob Cimmino. “A lot of other players will avoid contact. He wants to go at you, hurt you, make you say, ‘Damn, you beat the crap out of me,’ and score.”

Cousins, who started every game his last three seasons, will need to improve his decision-making. At times last season he took bad shots early in the shot clock. He would tried to do too much when dribbling the ball.

Notes: Cousins was named All-Big 12 third team this year, after being All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2015. He finished his career with 1,326 career points, which makes him No. 20 on Oklahoma’s all-time list. He ranks fifth on OU’s career list with 40.7 percent shooting from 3-point range and eighth in 3-pointers made (176), and he’s ninth all-time in steals (157). … In Oklahoma’s run to the Final Four, Cousins averaged 10.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists. … Cousins was wounded in the back of the shoulder by an errant bullet during a visit to his hometown of Mount Vernon, New York, in May 2014. Police said he was an innocent bystander victimized when rival street gangs began shooting a block away.

Related articles:

The Oklahoma Daily: Former OU guard Isaiah Cousins turning heads at NBA combine

The Oklahoman: Isaiah Cousins considers himself lucky to be playing basketball

The Journal News: Ex-Mount Vernon basketball star shot; police blame gangs

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Isaiah Cousins,
Full Court Press: C’s consider draft and stash, legend of Togo Palazzi continues with Zach Auguste 06.11.16 at 7:51 pm ET
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Marlboro, Mass. native Zach Auguste worked out for the Celtics. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Marlboro, Mass. native Zach Auguste worked out for the Celtics. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

When the Philadelphia 76ers and then-GM Sam Hinke entered the 2014 NBA draft, they had their sights set on a 6-foot-10 Croatian forward by the name of Dario Saric. The Orlando Magic drafted him twelfth overall and the Sixers made a deal with with the Magic to drop down two spots, acquire Saric, a 2015 second-round pick and a first-round selection in 2017. And all it cost them was Elfrid Payton.

The move was one of the few bright spots of the Hinke era in Philadelphia, as it produced something for the future.

But the deal, an hour after Philly drafted Joel Embiid third overall, did something else. It asked the Philadelphia fans to put their faith in the “draft and stash” approach to the lottery. Just days earlier, Saric signed a multi-year deal in Turkey, a deal he may finally break this offseason to finally come to the states and play for the Sixers. Saric was stashed away in Europe developing his skills as a 19-year-old power forward. It’s very debatable as to whether Saric would have been ready to step in and contribute significantly right away, even on a team that had precious little talent.

The Saric case is not the typical “draft and stash” example, as NBA teams usually employ this strategy for second-round draft picks whom they don’t feel command NBA contracts. The Celtics have five picks in the second round, and certainly could use this approach multiple times if they feel they can reach an agreement with a player and his representative on what’s best for the player’s career in the long term, saving NBA roster spots while holding their future playing rights.

Could the Celtics take Dragan Bender with the third overall pick and allow him to continue to play in Europe? Perhaps. It really depends on how ready they feel he is to enter the NBA after not even playing that much this season for Maccabi in Israel.

“I think that all of those things are on the table and we need to look at all of those,” Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said this week. “I think Brad [Stevens] asked in his contract extension to not have eight rookies this year. I think that was specifically written in.”

All kidding aside, would the Celtics avoid drafting a player like Bender, if he doesn’t want to stay overseas and would rather play in the NBA now?

“If we really like the guy, no, that wouldn’t be a deal-breaker,” Ainge added. [Draft-and-stash talks] will be finalized kind of after you draft a kid, sit down and determine a plan of action, but those discussions go on all the time, year-round, contract situations, age, different levels of maturity and in the players’ game, all those come into play. But it’s a partnership with the player, his representatives and the team to try to make the best decisions for him.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Cheick Diallo, Dario Saric
NBA draft prospect profile: France PF Petr Cornelie 06.11.16 at 3:48 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, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

PETR CORNELIE

Position: Power forward

Country: France (Le Mans Sarthe Basket)

Age: 20 (turns 21 on July 26)

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 220 pounds

Wingspan: n/a

Key 2015-16 stats: 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists

Scouting report: At 6-foot-11, Petr Cornelie has the body type and skill set to become a stretch four in the NBA. His skill set includes a jump shot and athleticism that is rare for someone so tall. He’s also built a reputation as a hustler who works hard on both ends.

Cornelie’s athleticism and quickness also lends itself to potentially becoming an elite perimeter defender. When playing defense Cornelie needs to improve his IQ and toughness. On defensive switches, Cornelie has been described as being lost, often getting targeted in isolation situations because defenders knew they could overpower him. Cornelie’s strength also has been a problem on the offensive end because he is unable to fight through contact. Cornelie is projected to go anywhere from late in the first round to late in the second round.

Notes: Corneilie played in the U20 European Championships. In 10 games he averaged 8.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists. … Cornelie’s mother played professionally in the Czech Republic, his father played in the second-tier French league and his sister played four years at the University of Dayton.

Related articles:

EuropeanProspects.com: Petr Cornelie on the rise

UpsideMotor.com: International Scouting Report: Petr Cornelie

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Petr Cornelie,
NBA draft prospect profile: Duke SF Brandon Ingram 06.11.16 at 12:40 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is a 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. 

BRANDON INGRAM

Position: Small forward

School: Duke

Age: 18 (turns 19 on Sept. 2)

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 196 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Scouting report: One year ago the name Brandon Ingram was nowhere to be found near the top of many draft boards, but after a standout season at Duke, Ingram will most likely have a short wait to hear his name get called in the draft with either Ingram or former LSU forward Ben Simmons likely going first.

Ingram has drawn comparisons to Thunder forward Kevin Durant. Similar to Durant, Ingram has a lengthy body and the ability to shoot from beyond the 3-point arc. Ingram’s body type also has drawn criticism, with some scouts believing that he lacks the strength to finish above the rim. In addition, some teams are said to be wary of Ingram’s lack of defensive consistency. While Simmons is thought to be a player who will have an immediate impact, Ingram might endure some growing pains while transitioning to the NBA.

“Ingram’s lack of physical strength is a legitimate issue; it’s something that guys like him have overcome, but how long will that take? I doubt it can happen the first year,” one NBA scout told Sports Illustrated.

Although Ingram might not be ready to star in the NBA just yet, he has tons of potential. At 18 years old Ingram is the second-youngest projected first-round draft pick behind Dragan Bender, and after growing seven inches in high school, Ingram still is fitting into to his current frame. Making Ingram more appealing is the fact that his skill set of being a tall, lengthy forward who has the ball-handling and shooting ability of a guard fits perfectly into today’s NBA. Also, Ingram showed at Duke that he has the ability to play more positions than just forward. Furthermore, unlike Simmons, who has been pegged as a diva, Ingram is known as someone who requires minimal extra attention.

Notes: Ingram was the ACC Freshman of the Year and was placed on the All-ACC second team and All-ACC freshman team. His regular-season average of 16.7 points per game was seventh in the conference. Including Ingram, four college players since 2001-02 with wingspans of 7-foot-2 or greater have attempted 5.0 3’s per 40 minutes and made at least 40 percent of those shots; two of those players went undrafted, the third player is Kevin Durant. If Ingram is selected first overall, he will become the first ever 18-year-old one-and-done No. 1 overall pick. Starting in eighth grade Ingram was coached and mentored by former NBA star Jerry Stackhouse, who grew up in Ingram’s hometown of Kingston, North Carolina.

Related articles:

Sports Illustrated: The case for Brandon Ingram at No. 1

Yahoo! Sports: How Brandon Ingram stacks up against Kevin Durant

The Players’ Tribune: Brandon Ingram’s goodbye letter to Duke

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Brandon Ingram,
NBA draft prospect profile: Louisville SF Damion Lee 06.11.16 at 9:29 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.

DAMION LEE

Position: Small forward

School: Louisville

Age: 23 (turns 24 on Oct. 21)

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 210 pounds

Wingspan: n/a

Key 2015-16 stats: 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Scouting report: One of the biggest detractors for teams thinking about Lee is his age. At 23 years old he is an elder statesmen compared to the other potential draft picks. For whatever team does take Lee, they will get a streaky perimeter shooter (34 percent from behind the arc this past season). In 125 college games he made 257 3-pointers and finished with 2,016 career points. There has been speculation that his inconsistent shot is due to shot selection rather than mechanics. Lee also possesses great scoring instincts and the ability to create his own shot. When playing in a half-court offense, Lee can be predictable because he struggles to get to the hoop and when he does drive he almost always goes left.

Lee, who was not invited to the draft combine, is projected to go late in the second round. Whichever GM selects him is hoping that Lee’s offensive game will improve in the NBA when he no longer has to be the focal point of an offense.

Notes: Lee was an All-ACC second-team selection in his only season at Louisville. He transferred there as a graduate student after playing three years at Drexel, where he was a first-team All-CAA selection and earned a spot on the conference’s all-defense team in 2015, despite missing the final couple of weeks of the season after breaking his right hand in a game against Northeastern (he still scored 30 points). He finished second in balloting for CAA Player of the Year, one vote behind William & Mary guard Marcus Thornton — who went on to be drafted by the Celtics last June. Lee redshirted the 2013-14 season after tearing his ACL in the fifth game of the season. He was second-team All-CAA in 2013, and in 2012 he was the CAA Rookie of the Year. … Lee, who hails from Baltimore, spent a prep year at Saint Thomas More in Oakdale, Connecticut, in 2010-11 and led to the team to the National Prep School Championship.

Related articles:

Louisville Courier-Journal: Lee, Onuaku intriguing NBA draft prospects

Sports Illustrated: Louisville’s self imposed ban prevents Lee, Lewis from tourney

SB Nation: Damion Lee refuses to stop dancing

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Damion Lewis,
Isaiah Thomas wants Team USA to look at him for Olympics: ‘I wish I could get a chance’ 06.10.16 at 7:28 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas . (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas tweeted that he has not been selected to Team USA this summer in Rio. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas is nothing if not honest.

He spent the last couple of weeks pushing hard for Kevin Durant to come to Boston and join him on the Celtics.

Now, the 5-foot-9 dynamo is making another pitch. He wants to play on Team USA in Rio. 

“I wish I could get a chance to play on the USA team!” Thomas tweeted Friday evening. “Looking at the history of it, I’ve never seen a small guard selected 2 even try out.”

Of course, the most famous “Dream Team” snub involved Thomas’ namesake in 1992 in Spain, when the Pistons’ Isiah Thomas was not offered a spot. Many theories have been suggested over the years. The most common involves Thomas burning a bridge with Michael Jordan when he led a walk-off against Jordan and the Bulls at the end of the 1991 Eastern finals, a move that struck a raw nerve with Jordan.

This Thomas has no such intention of burning a bridge. 

USA Basketball will have a 12-man roster in Rio. ESPN reported Friday that Kings forward (and a player perpetually tied to the Celtics) DeMarcus Cousins has been selected.

There’s a who’s who list of NBA stars who have already turned down Team USA, including NBA MVP Stephen Curry, LaMarcus Aldridge Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and John Wall.

The Celtics’ point guard would seem to be a natural fit to replace the likes of Curry, Wall or Paul.

Read More: 1992 dream team, 2016 Olympics, Boston Celtics, dream team
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