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Celtics mock draft: Going big with Cheick Diallo, Ante Zizic, getting a steal with DeAndre Bembry 06.16.16 at 12:43 pm ET
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Could DeAndre Bembry be a steal for the Celtics?  (James Snook/USA Today Sports)

Could DeAndre Bembry be a steal for the Celtics? (James Snook/USA Today Sports)

A week before the Celtics hold the most significant draft in the last ten years, it’s a good time to take a look at how the Celtics might approach their picks (if they keep all eight). 

In this mock, we propose the Celtics use a bulk of their picks on bigs, both versatile and international in flavor. 

First round:

No. 3 – Buddy Hield: The most-proven pure scorer available in the draft after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.  Very rarely do players improve dramatically between their junior, and senior years of college, but Oklahoma senior, Buddy Hield has taken his game to the next level during his 4th collegiate season … Always a strong outside shooter, Hield improved his 3-point percentage to 52.3 percent on 7.9 attempts per game in his senior season at Oklahoma.  He has definite NBA-quality range, and even beyond, making him a legit threat to be guarded out to 26 feet away from the hoop. Here’s more on Hield

No. 16 – Cheick Diallo: Celtics get their rim protector here. A definite project as an offensive player, he is NBA-ready defensively in the post. He can run the floor the way Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge envision a big man running with the Celtics. Diallo has great speed up and down the court and has shown a definite intensity that all defensive forces in the paint need. He LOVES to run the court. Cheick also has good length. With a 7-foot-4 wingspan and a standing reach of just over nine feet, he projects as a solid NBA post presence. Scouts don’t consider him to be a great jumper to block shots but scouts love his timing as a shot blocker, especially from the weak side. His biggest area of growth will be in picking up NBA schemes, especially in a league where defending the pick-and-roll effectively is a must. He struggled at times at Kansas to stay on the floor, mainly because of his ability to pick up offense.  Here’s the WEEI.com scouting report on Diallo

No. 23 – Taurean Prince: Another versatile forward. At 6-foot-7, Prince is a 215-pound slightly shorter version of Diallo. He has long arms, and very good lateral quickness. Prince saw more playing time at Baylor than Diallo did at Kansas and has more maturity, as he played four years for the Bears. While Diallo is a post presence, Prince’s physical tools in addition to his defensive instincts and intensity projects him as a player capable of guarding both shooting guards, and a large portion of small forwards at the NBA level. Scouts love his developed skills while general managers sense a very high defensive IQ. Prince is the type of player who could transition from zone to the varied man-to-man schemes in the NBA. Here’s the WEEI.com scouting report on Prince

Second round: 

No. 31 – DeAndre Bembry: A flashy 6-foot-5 athletic wing from St. Joe’s in Philadelphia, with a flare for making highlight plays. This is an explosive player with a big wingspan that could electrify fans at the Garden. Very fast and thrives in transition … A smooth athlete who excels in the open floor, both with the ball or filling the lane. Has the shake and wiggle to get by defenders in ISO and create shots in the lane or at the rim … Quick first step … Excellent finisher. Very similar to Kris Dunn in his ability to finish at the basket.  If the Celtics say goodbye to Evan Turner, Bembry is the kind of athlete who could step in and fill that role. Scouts like his ability to get his feet organized quickly when attacking the basket and his ability to get around the defense. He also possesses a mean Euro-step, a must for any player from 10 feet and closer to the bucket in today’s NBA.  Vision and passing skills also strong. If he’s available here, this is a steal for the Celtics. 

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics,
Report: Buddy Hield puts on a shooting clinic for Celtics in California, makes 85 of 100 3-pointers 06.13.16 at 4:21 pm ET
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Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield

Last week, Kentucky freshman and NBA draft hopeful Jamal Murray hit 79 out of 100 3-pointers during a shooting drill with Celtics coaches that was called an unofficial record for a potential draftee.

Turns out Buddy Hield’s competitiveness extends to workouts, because he reportedly one-upped Murray on Monday. According to ESPN draft insider Jeff Goodman, Hield shot 85-for-100 on 3’s in front of the Celtics brass during a workout in California.

Hield, an Oklahoma senior, is considered one of the best pure shooters in the draft, and he apparently showed it on Monday.

The Celtics hold the No. 3 pick in the draft and could consider either gunner in that spot. Murray is already on record that he considers himself the best player in the draft. For more on the decision between Murray and Hield, check out this recent edition of Celtics Choice.

And for more on draft rumors, be sure to follow our Green Street Celtics blog.

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray
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.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Cheick Diallo, Dario Saric
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
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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Previous entries

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

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Buddy Hield, Celtics choice
Jamal Murray out to prove he’s ‘best player’ in draft: ‘I can score on anybody’ 06.08.16 at 2:14 pm ET
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Mar 19, 2016; Des Moines, IA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Jamal Murray (23) shoots the ball against Indiana Hoosiers guard Yogi Ferrell (11) in the second half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray, a possibility for the Celtics at No. 3, is not short on confidence as the draft approaches. (Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — Jamal Murray doesn’t lack for confidence. 

The 6-foot-4 guard out of Kentucky is rated by some as the best pure shooter and scorer available after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram in the draft. 

“I have the mind of a 1 in a 2 guard’s body,” Murray said. “I believe I can score on anybody. In college I got better at playing the 2, kind of got a feel for it coming off screens, found my rhythm. Before that I was a natural point guard. I’m a big guard, whether a 1 or 2.”

Does Murray think he’s the best player in this draft? 

“Yeah, I think so. That’s not a knock on anybody, I’m just looking back on the work I’ve put in, how far I’ve come, how quickly I learn, how quickly I adapt to my surroundings and how easy I fit into a team. I believe I’m the best player in the draft, but every team needs what they need,” he said. “I just want to go to the right team. The team that wants me. The team that believes in my potential and [couldn’t make out] I have right now. Someone who is going to use down the stretch and have faith in me.”

On Wednesday, he spent the morning working out for the Celtics, proving that and setting a record of sorts. 

The guard made 79 of 100 shots from 3-point range in a drill around the arc. The previous mark was 77 this spring. The drill involved taking 10 shots from beyond the arc at five spots on the court and going twice around. 

“They told me ahead of time it was a record. I was at 71. They kind of had one more spot to go,” Murray said. “I didn’t know. They just kind of told me I was at 71.” 

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Jamal Murray, John Calipari
A crazy busy Zach Auguste comes home for a Celtics workout: ‘I’ve got 19. All downhill from here’ at 12:40 pm ET
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WALTHAM – There are few, if any, players who have the pre-draft workout schedule that Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste has. 

The Marlboro, Mass. native stopped by Waltham Wednesday morning for a workout with the Celtics as part of a journey that is set to take him to 18 different teams. 

“This is my 14th workout. So I’m kind of a vet,” Auguste said with a hearty smile. “I’ve got 19 scheduled. Yeah, I’m a 14, so I’m almost there. All downhill from here.

“This is actually my third one in a row this week. Just came from Houston and L.A., with the Lakers and the Rockets. And I’m going to have a couple days off, about four days off, and then head down to Washington for the Wizards. Then I’ve got Sacramento, Golden State, and then Detroit.”

“It takes a toll on you and you definitely get fatigued, but the most important thing is just kinda get as much rest as you can, stay hydrated. The trainer will say to me, ‘Always have a Gatorade or water bottle in your hands at all times.’ Then you just use a recovery system. Each organization has a recovery room you can get some ice, heat, whatever you need to do. So utilizing that is the most important thing.”

What was it like for him to stop by home and work out for the team that he rooted for growing up.

“It feels great. I had an opportunity to come here for this organization, work out for a team that I grew up my whole life watching and cheering for,” the 6-foot-10 Auguste said. “Nothing makes me prouder than being able to put this jersey on and have a workout, even if it’s just for one workout.”

So the Celtics were his favorite team?

“Of course. It’s funny to see Walter McCarty down there, helping us out, you know, someone I used to watch with his tube sucks all the time running up and down the court,” Auguste said. “So, it’s always good to see that, especially Danny Ainge as well.”

He did not, however, scream, ‘I love Waltah.’

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Notre Dame, Pat Connaughton
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