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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Syracuse F Jerami Grant 05.30.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

JERAMI GRANT

Position: Forward
School: Syracuse
Age: 20
Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 214 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2013-14 stats: 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Scouting report: Grant has youth and athleticism on his side, but does he have the skills? That’€™s the question NBA teams have to ask themselves as they evaluate the 20-year-old. Grant’€™s long wingspan and explosive vertical make him one of the more impressive athletes in the draft, and that should at least translate into productivity on the defensive end.

Grant’€™s fantastic lateral quickness and long arms will make him a fine man-to-man defender, but some players lack “feel for the game,” and that might be the case with Grant. His low block and steal totals in Syracuse’€™s zone are alarming considering his athleticism, and he often made poor choices with his rotations and weak-side help. It’€™s a legitimate concern, because if he has a hard time in the zone, playing a complicated man-to-man defense might prove to be too difficult.

And it’€™s not like he will definitely make up for it with his scoring. Grant, the son of former NBA forward Harvey Grant, is a high-flier and can throw down alley-oop slams, and he’s also very good if it takes him only one dribble to get to the rim. This gives him the upside required to be a threat in the pick-and-roll and off of offensive rebound putbacks. But Grant rarely, if ever, uses his left hand when dribbling the ball, which hinders his shot creation skills.

More alarming, Grant’s perimeter jumper is quite broken. He spreads his feet too much, has a hitch and he seems to lack touch. If he doesn’t develop his shot, it will limit his ability to get to the basket, which will be his most valuable attribute on offense. Nevertheless, the skills Grant brings as a high-energy role player will undoubtedly put him in the conversation as a mid-to-late first-round pick.

How he fits: If the Celtics go with a slow rebuild, Grant could be a good fit for them with the 17th pick. He brings fantastic potential on the defensive end, and the team may believe it can progress his raw scoring talents.

Related articles:

Grantland: Don’t forget about Jerami Grant

Sports on Earth: Making a name for himself

Video: Here is a video scouting report of Jerami Grant.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Jerami Grant, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Creighton F Doug McDermott 05.29.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

DOUG MCDERMOTT

Position: Forward
School: Creighton
Age: 22
Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 218 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-9

Key 2013-14 stats: 26.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 64.4 TS%, 60.2 eFG%

Scouting report: With 3-point shooting becoming more and more valuable in today’€™s NBA, McDermott is coming into the league at the perfect time. He is the NCAA‘€™s fifth all-time leading scorer with 3,150 points, and much of that came due to his success from 3. McDermott has exceptional fundamentals and gets his shot off like a machine, whether it’€™s off the catch or the dribble.

McDermott has improved as a ball handler, and could absolutely make some noise by attacking the mid-range game after defenders close out hard on his 3-pointers. This is what could take him from a basic shooting role player to the next level as a versatile scoring threat. McDermott won’€™t fill it up on the post like he did in college, but he has the skills, touch and intelligence to make plays inside the arc.

But he’€™s not perfect. McDermott underwhelms defensively and athletically. He plays below the rim, which limits his inside scoring ability as well as his defensive potential. If he plays the 4, he won’€™t be much of a rim protector and he is only an average rebounder. But his lateral quickness must improve if he wants to be able to defend 3’s effectively. However, he’€™s terrific defending off-ball and almost always makes correct rotations, which means he’€™ll at least be a reliable team defender.

How he fits: Brad Stevens values players who can space the floor and shoot the 3, and no player in this draft does that better than McDermott. Taking him at sixth might be a little early, but if the Celtics trade down (or up from No. 17), he could be their pick.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Six options at the sixth pick for Boston

Data Omaha: Doug McDermott by the numbers

Video: Here is a video tribute for McDermott’€™s perfect fundamentals.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Doug McDermott, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan C Mitch McGary 05.28.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

MITCH McGARY

Position: Center
School: Michigan
Age: 21
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 265 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2013-14 stats: 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals

Scouting report: Back surgery ended  McGary’€™s sophomore season and a failed marijuana test finished his collegiate career. His time in Ann Arbor didn’€™t end the way he wanted, but he still did enough to warrant consideration as a late first-round draft pick.

McGary’€™s calling card in the NBA will be his energy and intelligence. He plays without abandon on both ends of the floor, diving for loose balls and hustling for rebounds outside of his area. The 6-foot-10 big man also does a good job of making the right play, whether it’€™s an accurate swing pass, a well-set screen or a perfect defensive rotation.

These tools scream “glue guy,” considering his team tends to play better when he’€™s on the floor. But his elementary post game, average athleticism and shaky jumper certainly limit his upside. McGary won’€™t be a go-to scorer in the pros, but he could be a go-to role player for a coach looking to raise the energy on the floor.

A medical examination will be extremely important to determine the extent of McGary’€™s back injury, especially since he plays the style that he does. He may be more of a risk to re-injure the back than the average athlete, and considering he only has high-end role player upside, some teams might not be willing to take the risk on him.

How he fits: McGary would provide the Celtics with a gritty backup center who would go full throttle whenever he received playing time.

Related articles:

Yahoo! Sports: Mitch McGary heading to NBA after marijuana test nets him yearlong NCAA ban

Detroit Free Press: Ex-Michigan Wolverines shooting up pro scouts’ charts

Video: Here is a video scouting report of McGary.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Mitch McGary, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Arizona F Aaron Gordon 05.27.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

AARON GORDON

Position: Forward
School: Arizona
Age: 18
Height: 6-foot-9
Weight: 220 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot

Key 2013-14 stats: 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 35.6 3P%, 42.2 FT%

Scouting report: While 18-year-olds usually don’€™t come to the NBA ready to defend at a high level, Aaron Gordon could be the exception. He is one of the best athletes in the draft, possessing outstanding lateral quickness and length, which will allow him to defend at least three positions. But it’€™s his off-ball awareness that puts him in proper positioning when it comes to rotations and weakside help. This versatility and reliability gives him the defensive potential of a Shawn Marion, Gerald Wallace or even Andrei Kirilenko.

Gordon’€™s abominable free throw percentage will get a lot of press, as it should; he was terrible from the line, shooting only 42.2 percent. But his form isn’t that bad, and a player with his work ethic should be able to fix it by the time his rookie contract is over.

Other than that, the 6-foot-9 forward brings fantastic offensive tools to the pros. He’€™s exceptional at moving off-ball, often finding his way to the rim as a result of dive cuts, transition and screens. Gordon appears to have a great sense of spacing, which also helps him with the ball in his hands; he’€™s a very good ball handler and passer, which gives him potential as a pick-and-roll playmaker. Of course, Gordon must develop his shot, but his 35.6 3-point percentage, solid mechanics and youth give him great upside.

How he fits: Gordon could very well be the steal of the draft if he develops a reliable shot. The C’s could really use a “do-it-all” player at the wing, and Gordon may be the best option for them at the sixth pick.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Six options at the sixth pick for Boston

CBS Sports: Aaron Gordon’s stellar upside

Video: Here is a video of  Gordon’€™s top 10 plays this season.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Aaron Gordon, Boston Celtics, NBA
NBA draft’s Potential Celtics: Serbia G Bogdan Bogdanovic 05.26.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

BOGDAN BOGDANOVIC

Position: Guard
Country: Serbia
Age: 21
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 200 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2013-14 stats (Euroleague): 14.8 points, 3.7 assists, 37.0 3P%

Scouting report: Don’€™t be fooled by his redundant name, because Bogdan Bogdanovic brings a unique set of skills that make him attractive to NBA teams. Most notable of all is his deep 3-point range. The 6-foot-6 Serbian is able to shoot well as a spot-up threat, and he’€™s even more of a threat off the dribble. He has fantastic footwork and gets his shots off cleanly due to his long 83-inch wingspan.

Bogdanovic played point guard for Partizan Belgrade, so he has years of experience making plays for others. Though he projects as a 2-guard in the NBA, his proficiency will likely translate to success as a secondary pick-and-roll ball handler. When you factor in his shooting stroke, Bogdanovic projects as a true half-court threat whether he has the ball in his hands or not.

However, Bogdanovic can be a bit sloppy with the ball and has made some bad passing and shooting decisions. Some of the poor shot choices may have been by design, since he was arguably Partizan’€™s best player, but it will be important for teams to assess his psychological profile in order to find out if these decisions were as a result of his team environment or his own personality.

Because Bogdanovic has a long wingspan, he will be able to effectively defend many NBA wings. But he must improve his lateral quickness and his defensive intensity if he wants to take his two-way game to the next level. Overall, Bogdanovic is a quality player who will likely find success in the NBA as a contributing scorer with occasional high-output performances.

How he fits: Knockdown 3-point shooting comes at a premium in the NBA, and Bogdanovic’s shooting stroke would give the Celtics a valuable scorer that can play both guard positions. Bogdanovic could likely be selected if Boston decided to trade for an additional late first-round draft pick.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Adriatic League final four analysis

EP: Bogdan Bogdanovic on the way to being a PG

Video: Here is a highlight reel of Bogdanovic scoring 27 points against CSKA Moscow.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Boston Celtics, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan St. PF Adreian Payne 05.23.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

ADREIAN PAYNE

Position: Power forward
School: Michigan State
Age: 23
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 239 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-4

Key 2013-14 stats: 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 42.3 3P%

Scouting report: Almost every NBA team can use a near 7-footer that hustles, plays with grit, and can shoot 3-pointers at an efficient rate.  Payne brings all of these traits and then some. The fourth-year big man from Michigan State has outstanding shooting mechanics, as he frequently utilizes “the hop” to get his perimeter attempts off quickly.

Because of his athleticism, Payne is also a terrific finisher at the basket (68 percent, according to Hoop-Math). He plays above the rim and is able to get there either via dive cuts, post-ups or alley-oops. This explosiveness will certainly translate to the pros, since more open-court opportunities will be available.

On the other hand, there are some alarming warts that likely will prevent Payne from reaching his true potential. He has smaller than average-sized lungs, which means he can’€™t play for extended periods of time. At Michigan State, Tom Izzo had to manipulate Payne’€™s minutes to allow him to be the most effective he could be, but there are legitimate questions about his ability to sustain productivity over an 82-game season.

Payne also suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Even though Payne is a high-character individual, his on-court decisions make coaches (and fans) shake their heads at times. He misses defensive rotations and had a poor 0.65 assist-to-turnover ratio, illustrating his decision-making difficulty.

Still, Payne brings enough transferable skills to the NBA and deserves consideration as a mid- to late-first-round pick. Even if he’€™s a guy who can only play 20 minutes per game, it’€™s close to a guarantee that he’ll be productive during his time on the court.

How he fits: Brad Stevens likes to stretch the floor with all of his big men, and Payne fits that mold to perfection. He brings exceptional mechanics from both mid- and 3-point range, and could immediately slide into the rotation considering his experience.

Related articles:

ESPN Insider: Payne dealing with mono

Sporting News: Payne sharing Senior Night with Lacey Holsworth beyond special

Video: Here is a video of all 41 of Payne’€™s points against Delaware.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Adrian Autry, Boston Celtics, NBA
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Celtics will pick from worthy group of 4 05.22.14 at 9:43 am ET
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The sobering truth of the Celtics‘€™ 57-loss season is now settling in. All it was worth is the No. 6 overall pick in June’€™s NBA draft. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers won the lottery for a third time in four years since LeBron James left for Miami — this time with a 1.7 percent chance — seriously? Anyway, there’€™s a lot of chatter about whom Boston should use the pick on, as well as what to trade it for.

If Danny Ainge chooses to (or is forced to) use the pick, he most likely will be left with three worthy prospects to select from. But before discussing them, let’€™s be clear. Using this pick signifies heading into a full-on rebuild; one that probably doesn’€™t include Rajon Rondo. If I’€™m Ainge, I use the pick (along with any assets it takes) to go after Kevin Love at all costs.

Pairing Rondo and Love would put the most difficult stage of getting back into contention behind us. Boston likely still would have a few assets left over, along with the cap space to find the third star it takes to win in this league. For argument’s sake, let’€™s say Ainge goes the opposite direction. Here’€™s how the draft should shake down.

Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are essentially locks to be taken in some order with the first three picks. And the Magic are one of the teams most intrigued by Dante Exum, making it tough to see them passing on the Australian guard when they pick fourth.

The Jazz are the mystery team. Will they keep the fifth pick or trade it? Regardless, the team in that spot will be picking from four players, in all likelihood. Which leaves Ainge taking one of the remaining three top-level prospects. The following are the four players projected to be taken with picks 5-8.

Noah Vonleh, Indiana, freshman: 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks

As I mentioned in my last column, Vonleh was the big winner of the combine — to the point that he is viewed as the player most likely to be picked fifth overall. I am on the opposite end of the spectrum, I see Vonleh as the eighth-best player in the draft. Still, he would be a decent fit in Boston. This is primarily because he is a much different player than Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk.

Read the rest of this entry »

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