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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Maryland F Jordan Williams 06.18.11 at 10:30 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).

Jordan Williams

Position: Forward

School: Maryland

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 247 pounds

Stats: 16.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg

What he brings: Williams is a hustle player with a wide frame. The Torrington, Conn., native is an exceptional rebounder, finishes well in transition, and always is the first on the floor for a loose ball.

His jumper needs work, but he has a good hands and a soft touch down low. If he can improve his conditioning, as well as his stroke, Williams could become an immediate contributor next season, especially if Glen Davis takes his talents elsewhere.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round

What they’re saying: ‘€œIn Jordan’€™s situation, I believe he needs another year. … There’€™s still things to do in terms of a jump shot, in terms of getting better athletically before you hit that next level. Because we all watch the NBA, and you see who’€™s playing out there. I mean, those guys are just some of the greatest athletes in the world.’€  ‘€” Recently retired Maryland coach Gary Williams

Notes: Williams adjusted his diet after his sophomore year. He used to eat a McDonald’s McGriddle every day before class, according to The Washington Post.

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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

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.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Tennessee G/F Scotty Hopson at 3:52 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).

Scotty Hopson

Position: Guard/forward

School: Tennessee

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 205 pounds

Stats: 17.0 ppg, 1.3 apg, 3.3 rpg, .376 3-pt%

What he brings: Hopson, who enters the draft following his junior year at Tennessee, has the perfect size and length to be a solid wingman at the next level, and the scoring potential is certainly there as well. He was named to the All-SEC team by conference coaches after finishing fifth in the conference with 17.0 points per game. He is considered to be extremely athletic and finally showed a better ability to get to the charity stripe last season after he increased his free throws per game from 2.30 in 2009-10 to 4.84 a year later. He is also not considered to be extremely strong off the dribble.

That being said, his biggest knock is his inability to play consistently on a game-by-game ‘€” and sometimes even possession-by-possession basis ‘€” especially on the defensive end. There’€™s no better example of this than in early December, when he went from a 27-point game in a win over Pittsburgh to a seven-point performance against Oakland in a loss when he went 1-for-7 from the floor. Any NBA team, Celtics included, that takes Hopson in the draft will have to coax a more consistent effort out of him.

Where the Celtics could get him: Second round

What they’re saying: ‘€œThat guy is not from the same planet as the rest of us.’€ ‘€” NBA general manager to Draft Express after Hopson gave an unflattering interview. (Decide for yourself by watching this interview.)

Notes: Hopson said that the postseason firing of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl ‘€œplayed a lot into my decision’€ and that new coach Cuonzo Martin tried to get him to stay. During that process of attempting to convince Hopson to stay, Martin told the press, ‘€œIt’s always tough because you want to give these guys honest information, but you also understand that a part of their success is about ego, so it’s the way you go about saying what you’re saying without really saying it.”

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Duke G Nolan Smith at 11:38 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).

Nolan Smith

Position: Guard

School: Duke

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 185 pounds

Stats: 20.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.5 rpg

What he brings: Smith’€™s best attribute is his basketball IQ, that intangible quality so essential for NBA guards which combines court-vision, decision-making and maturity. He’€™s a solid passer with good body control, which lets him fire off passes from multiple angles and body positions, similar to Rajon Rondo. Smith is great off the pick-and-roll, has good lateral agility and can fake out defenders in isolation. He’€™s a confident shooter who can slash through the lanes or step back for the jumper. Also of note: His scoring, rebounding and passing numbers all have gone up each season with Duke.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’€™re saying: ‘€œWe haven’t had a player who has done what Nolan has done in my 31 years here.’€ ‘€” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski

Notes: Smith became the first Duke player ever to finish with 1,500 points (1,911) after scoring fewer than 500 in his first two years. He was named Fox Sports, Yahoo! Sports and NBC Sports National Player of the Year. His father, the late Derek Smith, was a solid NBA player before injuries set in, and Derek played briefly for the Celtics at the end of his career.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Ohio State G David Lighty 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

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: ‘€œI 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.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Richmond F Justin Harper 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

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: ‘€œI 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.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Kentucky G DeAndre Liggins 06.16.11 at 7:15 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).

DeAndre Liggins

Position: Guard

School: Kentucky

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 210 pounds

Stats: 8.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg

What he brings: As his stats would suggest, Liggins never was much of an offensive force over three years in Lexington. He scored his career high of 19 twice last season in home wins over Indiana and Tennessee but reached double digits in only 15 of his 38 games.

Where he really made a name for himself was as perimeter defender, thanks in part to his 6-foot-11 wingspan. Usually charged with covering the other team’€™s best guard, Liggins led the Wildcats in steals with 46 (1.2 per game) last season and even earned Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America and Yahoo! Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. Opposing coaches liked what they saw defensively as well, voting him to the SEC All-Defensive squad as well as the East Regional all-tournament team after helping the Wildcats reach the Final Four. But with Avery Bradley, a young guard whose strengths are on the defensive end, already on the roster, don’t be surprised to see the C’s pass on Liggins.

Where the Celtics could get him: Second round

What they’re saying: ‘€œ[Tony Allen] has transformed the Grizzlies. Everybody is looking at DeAndre Liggins, that he could guard multiple positions. He’€™s athletic, tough, comes up with balls — all the stuff they want in that position.” ‘€” Kentucky coach John Calipari on comparisons of Liggins and former Celtic stopper Allen

Notes: Calipari advised Liggins to stay in college, but the player decided that he and his family would best served by making the jump to the pro ranks after talking to NBA scouts. For what it’€™s worth, ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford tweeted that Liggins was one of the best-looking prospects at a Nets workout that did not include any big names.

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