|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Indiana PF Noah Vonleh||05.12.14 at 9:00 am ET|
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.
Position: Power forward
Weight: 240 pounds
Key 2013-14 stats: 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 56.0 eFG%
Scouting report: Vonleh, a Haverhill native, is an elite rebounder, as he proved with 13.6 boards per 40 minutes this season (the second most of all 2014 prospects). He consistently boxes out and knows how to use his enormous 88-inch wingspan to sprawl out for boards.
Offensively, Vonleh is raw but was still underutilized in Indiana’s broken offensive system. With a sweet jumper (48.5 3P%) and smooth mechanics, Vonleh will be a threat as a pick-and-pop shooter. He also has a soft scoring touch around the rim, which bodes well for his potential in the pick-and-roll and on second-chance opportunities.
While his status as one of the youngest players in the draft is a positive, it also works as a weakness. Vonleh is underdeveloped, which makes it difficult to project his ceiling. With robotic footwork on the block, there are no guarantees he ever develops post moves despite his fantastic combination of height and length. He also needs to add strength to his frame, as he shot only 59.3 percent at the rim this season.
Defensively, Vonleh often looks lost, missing rotations and failing to protect the rim.
Overall, Vonleh seems like a good bet to at least be an efficient NBA role player, but his upside is impossible to predict due to his inexperience. Depending on where he’s selected, Vonleh could easily become the steal of the draft or one of the biggest mistakes. But, with ideal size and prototypical skills as a modern NBA big, Vonleh should be guaranteed as a top-10 pick.
How he fits: The Celtics have a logjam of talent at power forward and center, but they lack a player with the potential to be a rim protector. Vonleh is at least three years away from making that type of impact, but a forward-thinking franchise like the C’s might see too much upside to pass up on him with the fifth, sixth, or seventh pick.
CelticsBlog: NBA draft consolation prizes
Bleacher Report: Why Noah Vonleh is a safer pick than Julius Randle
Video: Here is a highlight reel of some of Vonleh’s top plays this season.
|Double ’07: Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen and Celtics triumvirates||05.08.14 at 3:01 pm ET|
This is the third in a series on the parallels between Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s last team to miss the NBA playoffs and this year’s lottery-bound squad. A deeper look at the C’s player personnel, potential trade packages and financial flexibility should offer insight into whether or not Ainge can recreate the 2007 magic of acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen seven years later in 2014. (Hence, Double ’07.)
As if acquiring Kevin Love or another perennial All-Star to pair with Rajon Rondo weren’t difficult enough, in order to restore the Celtics to championship caliber, Danny Ainge faces the harsh reality that Love is not enough.
In today’s NBA, three isn’t a crowd. It’s a necessity. The Celtics don’t win the 2008 title without Ray Allen, just as the Heat don’t win the past two without Chris Bosh (or Allen, for that matter). Making matters worse, few — if any — elite players will realistically change teams in the next couple years. Other than Love, of course.
Of the top-25 players listed on ESPN’s NBA Rank this past season, only Love, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony and an injured Kobe Bryant failed to make the playoffs. Irving remains on his rookie contract through next season, and Bryant just signed an obscene two-year, $48.5 million deal, leaving Anthony as the next most likely candidate.
|Celtics bring fired Warriors assistant Darren Erman back to Boston||04.29.14 at 10:02 am ET|
Less than a month after the Warriors fired him from his assistant coaching position, Darren Erman has returned to the Celtics.
The C’s hired Erman as the team’s director of NBA scouting, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi. Prior to joining Mark Jackson‘s Golden State staff, Erman served as a coaching assistant under Doc Rivers from 2007-11.
Erman’s previous stint with the Celtics involved scouting and individual skill development, and the Emory University product developed a reputation for his ability to study film during his tenure.
Shortly after the Warriors reassigned another assistant coach — former Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine — they announced Erman’s dismissal. ESPN later reported his departure involved a “violation of company policy” centered around his recording of internal conversations without consent. It didn’t take long for the Celtics to bring him back to Boston, which should speak volumes about how president of basketball operations Danny Ainge feels about the 37-year-old.
The Boston Celtics have hired ex-Golden State Warriors assistant Darren Erman as Director of NBA Scouting, league sources tell Yahoo.
‘ Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 29, 2014
|Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett ‘happy’ for playoff support of Celtics fans during Nets run||04.24.14 at 4:25 pm ET|
Paul Pierce knows the postseason as well as he knows Boston.
“This is the playoffs,” he said from the Nets practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J. “This is do or die.”
Pierce played 136 playoff games over 15 seasons for the Celtics. His 24,021 points rank second on the team’s all-time scoring list, brought a championship back to Boston in 2008, and also earned the NBA Finals MVP that very same season. The Truth restored meaning to the NBA’s signature franchise, so No. 34 still appreciates that Celtics fans are watching his run in Brooklyn.
“There’s a lot of fans [in Boston],” he added, “and I’m happy for their support.”
Kevin Garnett spent the last six seasons as a Celtic, patrolling the Garden paint and delivering a Bill Russell-esque intensity focused completely on winning. Up until this season, Garnett had played his last 84 playoff games for Boston, providing the interior defense, elbows, scowls and growls that the people of Boston know intimately well.
“This is a different level of intensity,” said Garnett, who verified the fans in Boston understand that vigor and fury. “A different level of concentration. Some people can withstand that for 48 minutes, and some can’t.”
Pierce and Garnett helped Brooklyn split the first two games with the Atlantic Division champion Raptors. Now the Nets head back to play two home games in the Barclays Center, a place Pierce still finds odd calling home. He has registered two playoff games so far for the Nets, and is still getting used to placing his long arms through a green and white jersey before each game.
|Celtics lose coin flip to Jazz, receive worse NBA draft lottery odds||04.18.14 at 3:13 pm ET|
The Celtics split a pair of tie-breaking coin flips but lost the one they really needed, the NBA announced.
The Jazz won the first flip, moving into the fourth position in the NBA draft lottery and capturing a 10.4 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick. The C’s are slotted fifth with a 10.3 percent chance. Utah can pick no lower than seventh while the Celtics could select as low as eighth.
While the two teams have a nearly identical chance at a top-three pick — 33.7 percent for the Jazz and 33.4 for the Celtics — Utah’s luck has more significant ramifications should neither team win a shot at (most likely) Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid. The Jazz have a 9.9 percent shot at the fourth selection, 37.3 percent shot at fifth, 17.6 shot at sixth and 1.4 percent shot at seventh.
Meanwhile, the C’s cannot get the fourth pick and have a 23.7 percent shot at fifth, 34.2 percent shot at sixth, 8.2 percent shot at seventh and 0.3 percent shot at eighth, according to Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren.
In other words, the Jazz now have a 98.4 percent chance at a top-six pick while the C’s have an 8.5 percent chance at seven or eight. Similarly, Utah gets a 43.6 percent shot at a top-four pick while the C’s are stuck at 33.4 percent.
|Brad Stevens sends a clear message to his Celtics: ‘We’ve got to have a defensive DNA’||04.17.14 at 9:30 am ET|
Brad Stevens saw a lot in his first season in the NBA as a head coach.
After the 57th and final loss of the season, he gave some insight as to what he learned from his maiden voyage in the pro ranks of basketball.
“I think the best thing I learned is that this is not fun to not win but it doesn’t define who you are or how you go about your business. One of the things that I’m probably most happy about with our team is that they didn’t change necessarily who they were. They didn’t let the losing or the multiple losses affect them or their approach, and I hope that I was the same way.”
The best advice for what would be a long season came at the start of the season, when Celtics assistant coach and long-time NBA veteran coach and scout Ron Adams offered some perspective on patience.
“I learned a lot about the NBA game and how it’s played,” Stevens said. “It’s a different kind of basketball. Ron Adams told me at the beginning of the year, ‘If I went and coached high school after 22 years coaching in the NBA, I wouldn’t know what’s going on. It’s 32 minutes, no shot clock. I’d really have to adjust to that.’ I think that’s probably true no matter which way you go. But it is an adjustment. The part I felt most comfortable was in the game, once we got used to the time outs, the 24-second clock and all that other stuff.”
All that other stuff for Stevens starts and ends with better and more consistent defense. It’s what separates talented teams from winning teams in the NBA. It’s what separates teams that can close out games and protect leads from those – like the 2013-14 Celtics – who lose close games time after time down the stretch. Stevens very rarely called his team out after games of this lost season, with a notable exception coming after a lackluster home loss to the Sixers on April 4. But after the final game Wednesday, a 118-102 defenseless loss to the playoff-bound Wizards, he delivered a clear and present message to any player that might return next season.
“So there’s a couple different ways to look at it: are you going to get better in your role, or are you going to expand your role? What I mean by that is: are you going to get better at what you do well, or are you going to get better at some other things that make you, that give you the chance to instead of be the eighth guy be the fifth guy, instead of be the fifth guy be the third guy. We have a lot of great data to be able to share and subjective thoughts as well, and I think we can get better with the guys in the room. I think we clearly are going to need to add to our team to be better, but I told them at halftime, I said, ‘We can start it on October 1st or we can start it right now.’ That is, we’ve got to have a defensive DNA to start next season at a little bit different level than I thought we did at the end of this season. I thought we tried to compete defensively early-on in the year; I didn’t think we made the strides that I would’ve liked to have made.”
Stevens took the time Wednesday at halftime of a game in which they surrendered 38 points in the first quarter and 68 points in the half to remind his team of exactly what he will expect going forward.
“At halftime, I was obviously disappointed in our defensive effort,” Stevens said. “I knew, just look out there, we were undermanned a little bit, but I thought we could play better defensively and it thought we came out in the second half with a great deal of spirit and fight, a little bit more aggressiveness, and it was great until we were worn out. And I thought we wore out and we didn’t have any juice in the last 10 minutes or so, prior to that little run at the end. Credit them; they put us in a world of hurt in a lot of different match-ups. It’s a good basketball team who’s playing well right now, who, as I said earlier, is really sitting pretty for the future because they’ve got really good players at the one and the two that are both very young, that have a chance to be elite at their positions.”
|Rajon Rondo wants a say in rebuilding of Celtics: ‘Danny Ainge has always been in communication with me’||at 12:12 am ET|
Following a season-ending 118-102 loss to the playoff-bound Wizards at TD Garden, Celtics captain Rajon Rondo talked about what he’s learned from this 25-win season and how he can become a better leader. Rondo also acknowledged that he would like input on the make-up of the roster next season.
“Every team is different,” Rondo said. “This is a new [situation] with me being the only guy here back when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were here. [Roster rebuilding] isn’t new. I still think I have been involved. I was in trade talk myself. Danny Ainge has always been in communication with me, what he has planned and what he has in store for this team.
“Being a leader, I just have to do it more than talking.”
Asked if that means doing it more by example on and off the court, Rondo answered, “Correct.”
How will a 25-57 season drive him this offseason?
“Motivation for next year we have a lot to work on and I look forward to next year,” Rondo said. “A good group to play with and a lot of great guys a lot of young guys just trying to be better.”
Does he want to be back?
“Next question,” Rondo said, referring to comments he made a week earlier indicating he feels he is a part of the team’s future.
Rondo said he will not watch the NBA playoffs, which begin this weekend. Instead Rondo maintains he looks forward to a summer of work as he continues to build his legs back to 100 percent, 15 months after ACL surgery on his right knee.
If he puts in the work, Rondo figures the rest of the team will follow.
‘It shows the group of guys we have,” Rondo said. “It starts with Danny Ainge and it starts with Brad Stevens. We had guys like Chris Babbs and Chris Johnson to come help us and help brighten their future.’