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2012 NBA Mock Draft 06.18.12 at 7:08 pm ET
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Will St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson have his name called by the Celtics in the NBA draft? (AP)

This year’s draft appears to be both full of depth and as thin as top prospect Anthony Davis at the top. Davis is the one true franchise-changer, a player whom rational basketball observers like Bob Knight and John Thompson have compared to Bill Russell.

Comps to Kevin Garnett at the high end and Marcus Camby at the low are also not out of place and if your worst-case scenario is a 15-year career at center, then you’re more than worthy of the top pick.

After Davis there is no clear-cut second choice, which makes predicting the rest of the draft an ever-changing exercise. Kansas’ Thomas Robinson is a man inside but lacks polish. Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will make any team better, but his offensive ceiling, particularly his shaky jump shot, may be limited.

Florida’s Bradley Beal is a smooth 6-foot-4 scoring guard with all the athleticism and intangibles you could want, but he’s also just 18 years old and has a lot to learn. North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is coming on strong. And there’s still the draft’s biggest enigma: UConn’s Andre Drummond.

There are players to be had up and down the draft, along with the usual collection of intriguing physical specimens who may go boom or bust. But there is depth in the middle and the end of the first round, and the Celtics should be able to land two solid prospects with their selections in the latter third.

Let’s mock:

1. Hornets: Anthony Davis, C, Kentucky

The obvious choice, and with Emeka Okafor already on the board, the Hornets can pair Davis with a bruising interior rebounder and defender to help alleviate concerns about his thin frame. The only question is whether Davis will be good, exceptional or transcendent.

2. Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

The Bobcats are rumored to be shopping the pick, and Barnes’ name was floated last week, but if they stay here the choice seems to be between Robinson and Kidd-Gilchrist. Both are high-energy players who want to do the dirty work to win games. Robinson is three years older, bigger and carried an undermanned Kansas team to the national championship game. Neither player will make or break a franchise, but the Cats need all the help they can get, and size tends to win out when all else is considered.

3. Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky

No need to overthink this one. MKG is a winner who will rebound, play defense like crazy and work on his game. The Wizards need all of those things, and adding another serious competitor alongside John Wall is important. MKG’s offense is raw, but he’s good in transition and can get to the basket. He’s still just 18 years old, and if he can fix the mechanics in his shot, he could become a very good pro and possibly an All-Star in time.

4. Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, G, Florida

Just 18 years old, Beal is a smooth scorer with a natural shooting stroke. He made only 33 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman, but he came on strong and played like a star in the NCAA tournament. He’s also a tremendous rebounder for a guard and carries high marks for his maturity, even for his age. A backcourt of Beal and Kyrie Irving could be tremendous.

5. Kings: Harrison Barnes, F, UNC

Barnes averaged 17.2 points per game for the Tar Heels, but there’s always a question of more. A heralded recruit, Barnes was the ACC’s top freshman in 2011, but some wondered why he wasn’t even better. He was an All-ACC pick as a sophomore, but some wondered why he didn’t dominate. Barnes is a talented shooter but not a great ball-handler who could be a very good starting forward but maybe not an All-Star. He was tested very highly at the combine, so perhaps there’s even more potential to unlock. Bottom line: He looks like a top-five pick, and the Kings would be thrilled to get him here. Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Bosnian SG/SF Nihad Djedovic at 4:44 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

Bosnian Nihad Djedovic is back in the NBA draft after withdrawing last year. (Beobasket.net)

NIHAD DJEDOVIC

Position: Shooting guard/small forward

Team: Galatasaray (Turkey)

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 211 pounds

Achievements: Was on the 2009 FC Barcelona club that won the Spanish national championship

Key 2011-12 stats: 10.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 50.9 FG% with Galatasaray (Turkey); 11.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 54.7 FG% with Lottomatica (Italy)

What he brings: Djedovic is an aggressive player who can create turnovers and score from the paint and outside. Even so, he isn’t the most athletic player and can be inconsistent. His 3-point shooting isn’t the best — he converted 33.3 percent of his attempts with Galatasaray — and he converted 63.9 percent of his free throws, leaving room for improvement.

Djedovic might be better suited for the European game. He will find it harder to get free for his shot against more athletic NBA opponents, and his individual defense is suspect.

Where the Celtics could get him: Djedovic is projected to get drafted late in the second round by a team willing to wait a couple of years for him to be ready to make the jump from Europe.

Notes: Barcelona owns Djedovic’s rights and has loaned him to multiple teams, including Italy’s Lottomatica Roma, with whom Djedovic started the season before moving over to Galatasaray. Barcelona retains his rights for two more years. … He had declared for the 2011 NBA draft prior to withdrawing in June 2011. … His teenage brother, Nedim Djedovic, is a highly regarded prospect also under Barcelona’s control.

Video: Here are some highlights of Djedovic’s play for Galatasaray.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Vanderbilt C Festus Ezeli at 1:27 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

Nigerian-born Festus Ezeli has NBA size and strength but is still learning the game. (AP)

FESTUS EZELI

Postion: Center

School: Vanderbilt

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 264 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-SEC second team (coaches)

Key 2011-12 stats: 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 53.9 FG%, 23.2 minutes

What he brings: Ezeli has the appropriate height and a monster wingspan that makes him the perfect fit for center at the next level. Defensively he commands the post, using his length to contest shots, his strength to hold his own and his lateral quickness to rotate from side to side effectively. On offense he has simple post moves and is a decent finisher at the rim.

Despite having the size to play the center position in the NBA, Ezeli lacks the athleticism to have a big-time impact on a game. The 22-year-old native of Nigeria doesn’t appear to have much of an upside on offense with a high turnover rate and a poor rebounding touch. He also finds himself in foul trouble too often, lacking a game-to-game consistency.

Ezeli could be a solid player off the bench, bringing in a toughness and physical play that could set the tone in a game. His offense needs improvement, but defensively he’s ready to be effective off the bench.

Where the Celtics could get him: Ezeli is certainly within range for the Celtics as a likely late-first-round/early-second-round pick. He could help shore up a Boston bench lacking quality big men.

Notes: Ezeli was suspended for six games at the start of last season for an NCAA violation (accepting a meal and hotel room from a booster). Then he injured his knee (sprained MCL and PCL) in a preseason practice and ended up missing a total of 10 games. … Ezeli moved from Nigeria to California to live with an uncle in 2004, and it was then that he started playing basketball. He chose Vanderbilt over Boston College, UConn and Harvard.

Recent articles:

NBAdraft.net: Festus Ezeli interview

Sports Illustrated: ‘How did I get here?’

SportingNews.com: Festus Ezeli makes Vanderbilt whole, an SEC challenger

Video: Here’s a highlight mix of Ezeli’s senior season at Vanderbilt.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: French SG/SF Evan Fournier at 9:25 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

Evan Fournier is considered the top international player in the 2012 NBA draft. (Alexis Reau/Poitiers Basket)

EVAN FOURNIER

Position: Shooting guard/small forward

Team: Poitiers (France)

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 205 pounds

Achievements: 2011 French Pro A Rising Star Award, 2011 French Pro A Most Improved Player

Key 2011-12 stats: 14.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 42.5 FG%, 27.7 3P%, 75.4%

What he brings: Fournier is considered the top international prospect in the 2012 draft. A solid but not exceptional athlete, he has terrific shooting guard size and a varied offensive skill set. Though he does not have superior ball-handling skills, Fournier is an effective slasher, and while he doesn’t have great leaping ability, his size, strength and quick first step help him get to the rim. He is also very adept at driving and dishing.

From the outside, Fournier is still a below-average shooter, particularly from behind the arc where he is shooting just 27 percent in France’s Pro A league. Defensively, he has good footwork and positioning and has demonstrated an ability to grab both offensive and defensive rebounds.

According to NBAdraft.net, “the trademark to his game is his ability to score clutch baskets. He seems to live for crunch time.”

Overall, Fournier has no major defects to his game and at just 19 years old, his reputation for having an excellent work ethic and willingness to work on improving should boost his draft value.

Where the Celtics could get him: Fournier is expected to be drafted late in the first round, so the Celtics should have a shot at him with their 21st and 22nd picks. Fournier could certainly be an option for Boston as Avery Bradley and E’Twaun Moore are the only C’s shooting guards under contract for next season while the aging Paul Pierce is the only small forward.

Notes: In 2011, Fournier became the youngest player in French League history to score more than 20 points, surpassing Tony Parker’s record. … He has expressed an interest in playing in the NBA next season and was scheduled to work out with some NBA teams this week.

Video: Here are highlights from Fournier from March, when he was named Player of the Month in the French Pro A league.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Penn PG Zack Rosen at 7:14 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

Zack Rosen looks to follow in the footsteps of Jeremy Lin and make the jump from the Ivy League to the NBA. (AP)

ZACK ROSEN

Position: Point guard

School: Penn

Age: 23

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 177 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-America honorable mention (AP), 2012 Ivy League Player of the Year (unanimous), 2011 All-Ivy first team, 2010 All-Ivy first team (unanimous)

Key 2011-12 stats: 18.2 points, 45.3 FG%, 3.2 rebounds in 33 games.

What he brings: Harvard fans know well how talented Rosen is. He led the Ivy League in scoring average as a senior and played well enough over four years to be one of Penn’s best all-time players. He is able to shoot anywhere — hard drives, mid-range jumpers, well behind the arc — and he wants the ball in the clutch. In Penn’s 55-54 comeback victory at Harvard on Feb. 25, Rosen scored 14 of his 20 points in the final 13 minutes, including his team’s final nine points.

For the season, Rosen converted 39.9 of his 3-point tries and 88.2 percent of his free throw attempts.

Over his career as a Quaker — and at pre-draft workouts — Rosen has demonstrated his leadership abilities on the court and shown a knack for creating his own plays.

Where the Celtics could get him: Rosen might not get drafted at all, but he helped his cause with some strong pre-draft workouts. He showed surprising athleticism, recording the fastest three-quarter-court sprint time of any NBA prospect at a combine in New Jersey. If the C’s decide to add to their backcourt depth, they could get Rosen in the second round if not as an undrafted free agent.

Notes: Rosen finished his career as Penn’s all-time leader in assists (588), games started (115) and minutes (4,198). He ranks third in points (1,723), free throw percentage (84.3), 3-pointers (225) and games played (117), fourth in steals (154), fifth in free throws (418) and ninth in 3-point percentage (39.1).

Recent articles:

Philadelphia Inquirer: Measuring the achievement of Penn’s Zach Rosen

AOL Sporting News: Penn’s Zack Rosen discusses best NBA fit, playing against Jeremy Lin

Video: Here is a closer look at Rosen.

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2012 NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UConn SG Jeremy Lamb 06.17.12 at 4:09 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

Jeremy Lamb is headed to the NBA after two impressive seasons at UConn. (AP)

JEREMY LAMB

Position: Shooting guard

School: UConn

Age: 20

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 180 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-America honorable mention (AP), 2012 All-Big East first team

Key 2011-12 stats: 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 37.2 minutes

What he brings: Lamb is a well-rounded shooting guard who stands out as one of this draft’s options at the position along with Bradley Beal of Florida and Austin Rivers of Duke.

While Lamb is a good scorer thanks to his ability to hit pull-up jump shots, he is even better on the defensive end and plays well off the ball. Lamb is noted for his freakish 7-foot wingspan on his 6-foot-5 body, which adds to his already good size at the shooting guard position. Lamb is also a smart player who doesn’t make too many mental mistakes and gets good positioning on both ends of the court.

Lamb, who played two seasons at UConn, has been compared to players like Richard Hamilton or Kevin Martin leading up to the draft. He has the ability to be a good complementary starting scoring option for a team, but more importantly a great defender who can help lock down the opposition’s top scorers.

Where the Celtics could get him: Most projections have Lamb going somewhere between picks 7-13, which is currently out of the Celtics range. If the Celtics want Lamb, they will have to trade up and might have to package both of their first-round picks in the deal.

Notes: Lamb was a key part of UConn’s national championship run in 2011 as a freshman, when he played a key role as a complementary scoring option to current Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker. … Lamb, who grew up in Georgia, competed with Team USA at the U-19 FIBA World Championships, leading the team with 16.2 points per game and 18 steals in nine games. … Lamb’s father, Rolando Lamb, played basketball at Virginia Commonwealth. In the opening round of the 1984 NCAA tournament, Rolando hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer to defeat Northeastern (led by now-UConn coach Jim Calhoun).

Recent Articles:

Hartford Courant: Lamb fighting laid-back reputation

CSN Washington: Could Lamb satisfy the Wizards’ wing craving?

Video: Here’s a highlight mix of Lamb.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Campbell PF Eric Griffin at 1:35 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

Eric Campbell has NBA athleticism, as evidenced by his dunking ability. (Bennett Scarborough/GoCamels.com)

ERIC GRIFFIN

Position: Power forward

School: Campbell

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 200 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-Big South first team

Key 2011-12 stats: 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 61 FG%, 30.3 minutes

What he brings: Griffin is a high-flier with the kind of athleticism that wows NBA scouts. He is a long power forward who uses his length, quickness and supreme leaping ability to make highlight-reel plays at and around the rim. The 22-year-old has become a solid offensive post presence with a knack for establishing good position against stronger players and finishing with some basic, but effective moves. On defense, Griffin is mostly a shot-blocker who rotates nicely as well.

At the next level, the Campbell product will need to add bulk to his lanky frame and learn more versatile post moves. His strong work ethic is a positive to many scouts who see his raw athleticism and talent as something special. The biggest knock on Griffin is that he is only above-average in one aspect of his game, finishing at the rim. He will need to improve his all-around play to have an impact as something more than a spark off the bench in the NBA.

Where the Celtics could get him: The Celtics ended up with little to show for the first-round pick they used on high-flying but inexperienced Gerald Green in 2005. Griffin enters the draft older than Green was, but he’s still raw. He won’t cost as much — he’ll likely be around when the Celtics pick in Round 2 — so the C’s will have to decide if he’s worth that risk.

Notes: Griffin averaged career-high numbers in minutes (30.3), points (15.7) and rebounds (8.6) this past season and compiled 12 double doubles. … He attended two junior colleges, Hiwassee in Tennessee and Garden City in Kansas, before transferring to Campbell. … Griffin is looking to become the first Campbell product ever to play in the NBA.

Recent articles:

Slam Online: NBA pre-draft tour: Eric Griffin workout

Bleacher Report: Future NBA player Eric Griffin an inspiration for anyone who’s ever been cut

GoCamels.com: Q&A with senior forward Eric Griffin

Videos: Here’s a couple of impressive dunks from Griffin vs. North Carolina A&T.

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