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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

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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
NBA draft prospect profile: Boise State SF James Webb III 06.10.16 at 4:20 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.

JAMES WEBB III

Position: Small forward

School: Boise State

Age: 22 (turns 23 on Aug. 19)

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 202 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2015-16 stats: 16.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals

Scouting report: Webb, projected to be a late-second-round pick, is a player who can play both the small forward and the power forward position efficiently. He’s incredibly explosive and quick, but he’ll need to increase his body strength to fit in with other NBA small forwards. He shot 61.6 percent from inside the arc his junior year, which is a result of good shot selection. He excels at finishing around the rim and gets open easily with his off-ball movement.

Yet when watching Webb, it’s clear that he needs to improve in various areas. Webb has good height for a small forward, but he’s thin and gets pushed around down low, so he needs to fill out his frame to compete with the NBA’s general physicality. He needs to be able to create his own shots on the floor, and that includes fixing his jump shot. After shooting 40.9 percent from deep last season, Webb took a major step back, connecting on only 21.9 percent of his 3-point attempts this year. Webb admitted that his jump shot fundamentals is one of the main things he’s working on this summer.

“I didn’t really shoot the ball as well as I did last year, so [NBA teams] just want to see that,” Webb said in an interview with Basketball Insiders. “We’ve been working with Ben Simmons here on just tweaking a few things. It’s nothing major, like you said, just dipping the ball a little bit, working on keeping it high, and just getting my shot off in the mid-range.”

Notes: Webb began his collegiate career at North Idaho College before transferring to Boise State his sophomore year. In his redshirt junior season, Webb made All-Mountain West first team and scored in double figures 24 times in the season. He will attempt to be the first Bronco selected in the NBA draft since 1999.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Is James Webb III Ready for the NBA?

KBOI2.com: Boise State’s Webb III ready for shot at the pros

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, James Webb III,
NBA draft prospect profile: UNLV C Stephen Zimmerman 06.10.16 at 12:57 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.

STEPHEN ZIMMERMAN

Position: Center

School: UNLV

Age: 19 (turns 20 on Sept. 9)

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 234 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 10.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks

Scouting report: A 7-footer with excellent size and length, Zimmerman is a natural-born rebounder and rim protector. He has good hands and has flashed potential of becoming a dependable post scorer in the NBA. Zimmerman is able to hit a mid-range jumper as well as dive toward the hoop, making him an ideal pick-and-roll option. He also has great offensive awareness, keeping his head on a swivel and making nice passes from the block.

A projected late-first-round pick, Zimmerman said the plan was always for him to be a one-and-done player.

“At the beginning of the year … we sat down with all the coaches and they said based on my work ethic and my skill level, if I didn’t leave after the first year, they feel they did their job wrong,” Zimmerman told the Detroit Free Press. “It was kind of set from the beginning for me to progress and play at this level.”

Zimmerman is a nice player, but there isn’t one thing he’s elite at yet. His focus could be better on the court, as his laid-back personality has hurt him at times. He has to work to be more mean and aggressive against opponents, especially for a player his size. His post game will have to be developed, and his free throw percentage (62 percent last season) could be better considering his mid-range jump shot.

Notes: Zimmerman finished third in the Mountain West Conference in rebounds and second in blocks per game after being named the conference’s Preseason Freshman of the Year. … He had a 35-inch vertical leap and a 30-inch standing vertical leap at the NBA draft combine.

Related articles:

Review journal: Stephen Zimmerman Jr. stands tall at the NBA combine

Basketball Insiders: Stephen Zimmerman is an intriguing prospect

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Stephen Zimmerman,
NBA draft prospect profile: UConn PG Daniel Hamilton 06.10.16 at 10:43 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.

DANIEL HAMILTON

Position: Shooting guard

School: UConn

Age: 20 (turns 21 on Aug. 8)

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 197 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-9

Key 2015-16 stats: 12.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists

Scouting report: Hamilton, who is leaving UConn after his sophomore season, is a defensive rebounding machine (8.1 per game). It is rare for a guard to be able to grab as many rebounds as Hamilton does, but the high number of rebounds shows Hamilton’s hustle and anticipation skills. Hamilton also uses those skills to be a successful facilitator. This past season there were only three players in the nation who had more than five assists and 10 rebounds per 40 minutes: LSU’s Ben Simmons, BYU’s Kyle Collingsworth and Hamilton.

At the next level it is unlikely that Hamilton will be a point guard because of his inability to be an efficient scorer. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Hamilton converted only 41.6 percent of his 2-point shots and 42.7 percent of his shots around the rim. Those low percentages are due in large part to poor shot selection. Rebounding is Hamilton’s only strength on defense. He needs to improve his defensive discipline before he succeeds at the next level. Hamilton is predicted to be drafted late in the second round, if he is drafted at all.

Notes: Hamilton had 63 points and 34 rebounds for UConn in the AAC Tournament. For his performance he was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Then in two games in the NCAA Tournament he totaled 28 points and 18 rebounds. … Hamilton was named all-conference second team this year, and was the AAC Rookie of the Year in 2014-15. … All four of Hamilton’s older brothers have either played or currently are playing Division 1 college basketball. One brother, Jordan, has had stints with four NBA teams (most recently the Pelicans this year) since being drafted 26th overall in 2011 out of Texas.

Related articles:

Hartford Courant: Should UConn’s Hamilton have declared for NBA draft? Experts question decision

CBS Sports: Daniel Hamilton declares, putting UConn in bind

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Daniel Hamilton,
NBA draft prospect profile: New Mexico State PF Pascal Siakam 06.09.16 at 3:47 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.

PASCAL SIAKAM

Position: Power forward

School: New Mexico State

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 227 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 20.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks

Scouting report: Siakam uses his intimidating wingspan and high motor to have his way in the paint. He isn’t overly impressive on the offensive end, but the big man can score on putbacks and dump-ins with the best of them. Siakam’s hustle helps him rebound with ease, as well as get down to the other end of the court quickly for a big. He also is surprisingly capable of staying in front of guards on defense. While Siakam may lack a wide range of post moves, he has shown potential on his midrange jumper. One NBA team will hope that he can make the necessary adjustments to his jump shot in order to thrive as a stretch four.

Siakam, projected to go anywhere from late first round to late second round, worked out for the Celtics on June 6, with his focus being to display his high energy level. “I’m just trying to show that I’m a competitor,” Siakam said during his visit. “I come to this workout and do what I do best; I’m not trying to force anything.”

While Siakam does have great wingspan for a power forward, he’s a little too thin and will need to fill out his frame and work on his strength down low. His limited post moves have become too predictable, and at 22 years old, there may not be much upside to his game. He is a fairly well-rounded prospect, but there’s also plenty to work on.

Notes: Siakam led the nation in double-doubles with 22 in 32 games this past season. He was named the unanimous WAC Player of the Year and made the conference’s All-Defensive Team. … He grew up playing soccer in Cameroon before moving to the United States in 2012. … He is the youngest of four brothers who all played Division 1 basketball. … Siakam will attempt to be the first player from NMSU drafted since 1991.

Related articles:

Bleacher Report: New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam is the best player you’ve never heard of

Las Cruces Sun-News: New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam staying in NBA draft

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, pascal siakam,
Celtics Choice: Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield vs. Kentucky guard Jamal Murray 06.09.16 at 1:38 pm ET
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In the days leading up to June 23’s NBA draft, we examine what the Celtics could do with the No. 3 overall pick and how they should approach this pivotal offseason. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to draft a scorer — Oklahoma senior Buddy Hield, or Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray.

The case for Hield

Did you watch a second of college basketball this season? Hield was a monster, adding dribble penetration and increased range to his explosive offensive game. He averaged 25 points a game and shot .457 from 3-point territory. His shot chart is off the charts, with above-average production from everywhere on the floor except the left baseline. As a senior, he’s more polished than most of the teens and freshmen coming out this year, including Murray. And he demonstrated an ability to hit big, clutch shots throughout his senior year, leading the Sooners to the Final Four, where they lost to Villanova, the eventual champs.

The case against Hield

The senior thing actually works against him among NBA types concerned that he’s already at or near his ceiling. There are also legitimate questions about his foot speed and ability to create his own shot at the next level, especially since he’s only 6-4 and won’t have the benefit of simply shooting over the top of smaller defenders, a la Reggie Miller or Klay Thompson. He’s also considered a subpar defender, though Brad Stevens could change that. The biggest knock on Hield is that he’s a finished product with not a lot of room to grow, and in the NBA everyone loves the ability to daydream about best-case projections.

The case for Murray

He’s one confident young man, that’s for sure. He told reporters, including WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia, after his Celtics workout that he considers himself the best player in the draft, and he opened eyes by making a draft-workout record 79 out of 100 3-pointers during one Celtics drill. His college coach, John Calipari, believes the Sixers should take him No. 1 overall. He made over 40 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman and has the kind of stroke that projects to play in the NBA, particularly as he develops. Murray is a weapon pulling up off the dribble or coming off screens, and probably a better pure shooter than Hield, who only made 23.5 percent of his 3s as a college freshman.

The case against Murray

He opened the season as Kentucky’s point guard, but ball-handling and decision-making limitations opened the door for Tyler Ulis, and Murray excelled off the ball. Still, at 6-4, he’ll need to develop better ball security to thrive in the NBA. The biggest question, however, is Murray’s athleticism. He struggled to finish at the rim in college, and that task will get exponentially harder in the NBA. He lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards, and he’s not much of a leaper. While his pure shooting ability makes him a solid NBA prospect, he’d be a real gamble at No. 3, especially since he probably will need at least two years to make an impact.

The Verdict

Murray’s shooting numbers as a freshman blow away Hield’s at the same age, and a lot of the questions we had about Hield (creating shot, dribble penetration) were answered over the final three years of his college career. If — and this is a big if — Murray makes similar improvements, he’ll be a better pro. In the short term, the answer is Hield, but long-term, we’d roll the dice on Murray.

Should the Celtics draft Oklahoma's Buddy Hield or Kentucky's Jamal Murray No. 3 overall?

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June 7: Dragan Bender vs. Kevin Love
June 2: Al Horford vs. DeMar DeRozan
May 31: Buddy Hield vs. Avery Bradley
May 26: Kevin Love vs. Paul George
May 24: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Blake Griffin
May 23: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward
May 20: Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown
May 19: Jahlil Okafor vs. Dragan Bender

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