|Celtics Choice: C’s reportedly narrow No. 3 pick to Providence point guard Kris Dunn or Cal forward Jaylen Brown||06.23.16 at 11:56 am ET|
And down the stretch they come . . .
With the NBA draft set for Thursday night and the Celtics still unable to move the No. 3 pick, focus has narrowed on whom they might select at that spot, with draft insiders focusing on two names — Providence College point guard Kris Dunn and Cal forward Jaylen Brown.
ESPN’s Andy Katz reported on Twitter that the Celtics are leaning towards Dunn, a better, more explosive version of Marcus Smart. Katz’s colleague, Jeff Goodman, said on the network that he hears the Celtics will either take Dunn or Brown, an athletic wing player.
Both Dunn and Brown are considered NBA-caliber athletes, with Brown more advanced defensively and Dunn a more gifted offensive player.
With that in mind, we present our final Celtics Choice: Kris Dunn vs. Jaylen Brown.
The case for Dunn
See if this sounds familiar: the Providence guard is powerfully built and physically gifted for his position, with the ability to defend multiple positions and a toughness NBA GMs like Danny Ainge love. If that sounds like Smart, it’s because Dunn shares many characteristics with the Celtics guard. Where he separates, however, is on the offensive side of the ball. Dunn is a better ball handler, passer, and scorer than Smart. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and with a 6-9 wingspan, Dunn possesses tremendous defensive instincts and court vision. He’s a terror in the open court and can finish at the rim authoritatively with either hand. He’s a true playmaking point guard who can also score (37.2 percent on 3-pointers). Just call him Smart 2.0.
The case against Dunn
In the delicate ecosystem of an NBA locker room, one malcontent can lead to disaster, and it’s fair to question Dunn’s fit when his agents have suggested he won’t play for a team — including the Celtics — with an established point guard. There are also reports that he “desperately” wants to play for the Sixers. He can’t stop anyone from drafting him, but his health could be an issue because Dunn required two shoulder surgeries during his PC career. On the court, there’s also the question of Dunn’s stroke — his inconsistent jumper includes a lot of moving parts — and his occasionally sloppy and reckless ball-handling.
The case for Brown
Brown is all about projection. He’s a raw athlete with explosive leaping ability, but an unpolished offensive game. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder could excel in one of Brad Stevens’ small-ball lineups as an undersized but athletic power forward who creates matchup problems on both ends while defending multiple positions. He’s got Draymond Green potential as a versatile athlete wreaking havoc at both ends, especially on defense. He’s a tremendous finisher on the break and at the rim, and a good rebounder for his size. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a game as a freshman.
The case against Brown
His offense is limited. He shot just .294 on 3-pointers and .654 on free throws. He also disappeared down the stretch, shooting a combined 5-for-29 in his conference tournament and NCAA tourney games. Cal was a one-and-done against Hawaii in the Big Dance, and Brown finished his career with just four points and two rebounds while committing seven turnovers. He’s got a little bit of Jared Sullinger to his offensive game in that he’ll pound the ball and take contested jumpers. If his offensive game fails to develop, it will severely limit his upside as an NBA player.
This is a tossup. Dunn is the more polished player, but Brown the better athlete with the higher upside. Dunn is the safer pick, even if he’d require moving some parts off the roster. But Brown should be an impact wing defender, and if his offensive game develops, those players are at a premium. We’ll take Brown.
June 9: Buddy Hield vs. Jamal Murray
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
|Kris Dunn declares ‘I’d be fine if [Celtics] selected me. I’d definitely be comfortable’||06.22.16 at 6:21 pm ET|
As it becomes more and more likely the Celtics will wind up making their pick at No. 3, one of the likely candidates for selection is renewing his public affection for Boston.
“I’d be fine if they selected me,” Kris Dunn said Wednesday in the final media availability before Thursday’s draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “I’d definitely be comfortable. My friends and my family are right down the road.”
Dunn also revealed that not only did he not work out for the Celtics, he added that didn’t formally workout for any team. The Providence College product, considered by many to be the top guard in the draft and a definitely Celtics possibility at No. 3, had two shoulder surgeries in his first two seasons at Providence.
He tore his labrum in June 2012 and immediately underwent shoulder surgery immediately. He was able to recover and made his freshman debut in late December, playing 25 games that season and averaged 5.7 points. Then the next season, in Dec. 2013, Dunn had a second shoulder surgery and missed the rest of his sophomore season after playing only four games.
But Dunn recovered impressively in his final two seasons, winning back-to-back Big East defensive player of the year honors while establishing himself as one of the most explosive guards in college basketball at the basket. Dunn has rocketed up the mock draft boards of late, despite not working out for teams.
The speculation around the Celtics includes the suggestion that they might draft him and trade either Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley to make room on their roster.
In another bit of news Wednesday, Buddy Hield told reporters that the Celtics went out to California to see him work out twice.
Wednesday also provided the first public glimpse of Dragan Bender, the 7-foot, 18-year-old Croatian forward/center who is considered a top-10 pick but has slid down many mock boards.
“Anything’s possible,” Bender said. “It’s a lottery so you never know what’s going to happen. You just have to wait for that moment when they call your name. Whatever that place is, you just fulfill your dreams and that’s it.”
|Celtics’ complete summer league schedule finalized||06.21.16 at 2:47 pm ET|
Celtics draft picks this Thursday will have a busy summer ahead of them. Now, we know their schedule.
The Las Vegas Summer League finalized its schedule Tuesday, and it includes three games for the Celtics and a playoff schedule.
The two venues are the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
The Celtics will play the Bulls on July 9 at Cox Pavilion (6 p.m. ET), the Suns on July 10 at Thomas & Mack Center (10:30 p.m. ET) and the Mavericks on July 12 at Cox Pavilion (6 p.m. ET).
There will then be six days of playoffs from July 13-18. Earlier this month, the Utah Summer League announced its slate of games. The Celtics play Philadelphia on July 4, Utah on July 5 and San Antonio on July 7. The games on July 4 and 5 will be at Vivint Smart Home Arena while the July 7 contest is set for the University of Utah’s Huntsman Center.
Summer league play consists of draft picks, first-year free agents and second-year players.
|Celtics final mock: Dragan Bender is the pick at No. 3, picking a Prince at No. 16||06.20.16 at 7:13 pm ET|
In the days leading up to the Celtics’ most significant draft in the last ten years, it’s a good time to take a look at how they might approach their picks (if they keep all eight).
In this mock, we propose the Celtics go with the player who can help them the most in the post.
No. 3 – Dragan Bender: The Celtics have been scouting and watching him like a hawk, debating whether the 18-year-old could turn into the next Dirk Nowitzki. That watch is expected to continue Tuesday when they meet with the international talent privately in the Boston area. The 7-footer is a highly versatile player, who can play both forward positions and occasionally center. Right now, he’s primarily a power forward. Scouts believe the Croatian has all the necessary tools to become a classic stretch 4. With good ball handing, high basketball IQ, very good court vision and excellent passing skills, Bender is just about NBA ready on the offensive end. He can play the pick and roll as both a ball handler and as a screener, a rarity for an 18-year-old. Throw in the fact that he runs the open floor and can lead the fast break due to his good ball handling and is a quickly improving shooter with the potential to be a very good mid-range and long range threat, it’s easy to see why the Celtics see him as such a valuable investment with the third pick. Here’s the WEEI.com profile on Bender.
No. 16 – 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 profile on Prince.
No. 23 – Brice Johnson: The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Johnson has the perfect mix of scoring instincts, size, mobility and championship pedigree. He’s an elite athlete who doesn’t force the issue offensively and never tries to do too much. He’s a four-year product of North Carolina whose shot selection is very good, explaining his high percentage from the field. He is a very effective scorer around the basket and at the rim, thanks in part to his quick leaping abilities. He’s very explosive in the open court and gets out on the fast break and runs the floor extremely well. If the Celtics get him at No. 23, they’re getting a very mobile, agile and coordinated for a player his size who can outrun other bigs in transition. Here’s more on Johnson.
No. 31 – DeAndre Bembry: Celtics stay athletic in the second round, nabbing 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. He’s 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 and has a quick first step. Once at the basket, he’s considered an excellent finisher, very similar to Kris Dunn. 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. Here’s the WEEI.com profile on Bembry.
|Full Court Press: What Game 7 could mean to future of Celtics, Warriors try not to join 2007 Patriots||06.18.16 at 9:42 pm ET|
Danny Ainge, son Austin and head coach Brad Stevens don’t have a horse in the race but they will be watching Game 7 of the NBA finals Sunday night with more than just a passing interest.
A pair of scoring forwards could be on the move after the game, and both have been rumored on the radar of the Celtics.
Cleveland’s Kevin Love could be playing his final game in Cleveland if they decide to unload him this offseason. He has four years and approximately $93 million left on his $113 million deal, which includes a $25 million kiss in the final season (2019-20), when he will be 31.
Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, 24, could be a much cheaper option. He is due a qualifying offer of about $5.2 million and is in the same contractual boat as Jared Sullinger. Both are set to become restricted free agents after next season but both could be cut loose after this season. Barnes has already rejected a four-year, $64 million deal, turning down the Warriors last September.
Both players are represented by agent Jeff Schwartz, the same rep for projected No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram. Danny Ainge reportedly met recently with Schwartz and, while it certainly would not be uncommon for Ainge to talk with agents before next Thursday’s draft, it would be tampering for him to publicly discuss players currently under contract with other teams.
A quick glance at Love’s stats in the NBA finals and it’s easy to understand why Celtics fans are so very skeptical of bringing his $93 million anchor to Boston. He’s averaged just seven points and 21 minutes in five games (DNP Gm 3). He’s again been beset by injuries (concussion) but when he has played, he’s looked out of place. It’s up to the Celtics to determine if that mostly because he’s being misused and kept on the perimeter or if he’s not looking for his shot. He is shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor in the finals and 38 percent in the postseason. On the bright side, he is averaging 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in 19 playoff games heading into Game 7 in Oakland.
By comparison, Barnes is coming off his worst game of the postseason, missing all eight shots in Thursday’s Game 6 loss in Cleveland. He was held scoreless in 16 minutes. In Games 1, 3 and 4, he was in double figures and a key part of Golden State wins in two of them. But he went 2-for-14 in Game 5 last Monday and 0-for-8 on Thursday, making him 2-for-22 in potential title-clinching games so far. He is averaging nine points and 4.8 rebounds in 31 minutes during the playoffs. He is someone to keep an eye on in Game 7 if the Warriors need some offense. The “Death Lineup” has been exactly that to Barnes’ hopes of promoting his value to potential suitors this summer.
We haven’t even mentioned the fact that LeBron James is a free agent this summer as well. There always exists the possibility that James could leave Cleveland, especially if the Cavs come back and finish off the first 3-1 comeback in NBA finals history. Not likely, but then again, it is LeBron and worth mentioning, even if in passing.
WALTHAM – If the Celtics hold onto their first first-round pick, they have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to do.
Austin Ainge, director of player personnel, acknowledged Saturday during pre-draft workouts that they have a good sense of the players they want to pick. He just wouldn’t identify them.
The obvious candidates are Buddy Hield, Dragan Bender and Kris Dunn, with maybe a Jamal Murray or Jaylen Brown getting some attention in discussions in the war room.
“We’ve been narrowing at this point. We have them in groups more than specific (players). Maybe for our first pick we have it narrowed to these three or four guys, the second group a little bigger – eight or 10, because you don’t know whose going to be there. You do your best at guessing and debating the groups,” Ainge said.
Ainge said Saturday that he hasn’t heard from Dunn’s camp as to when or if the Celtics will get a chance to see the two-time Big East defensive player of the year in person or what may come of Tuesday’s private (closed to media) get-together with Bender.
Identifying what the Celtics are going to do with their picks at No. 16 and 23 is a lot trickier because, as Ainge pointed out Saturday, not even the Celtics are sure what they’re going to do.
“It’s hard to guess what other teams are going to do, especially after the first couple of picks,” Ainge said. “It gets harder. All the media reports and discussions we’ve had with other teams, we still don’t know how the draft is going to go. Other teams [don’t know]. For instance, we don’t know who we’re going to take at 16, so how can I anticipate what another team is going to do? So these things are hard. So, you’ve just got to take the player you like the most and not outsmart yourself.
“Historically, those assumptions get proven wrong all the time. So, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I think last year was a case of that. There’s always surprises. We’re doing this all the time. How are you feeling? Let’s write it up. Let’s go to 20 names today, or 50 names, or 100 names, 10 names. We do those exercises all the time. It happens a lot.
“There are those types of discussions. Sometimes you do overall, sometimes you do by position. We’ll do guys that have certain skill sets – try to break ties. We were all in the office watching video late last night. Talking about it, trying to figure it out.”
The tie-breaker? Well, naturally it’s Danny Ainge, who has stockpiled three picks in the first round and five more in the second.
“For every pick range there’s guys we’re fighting between and trying to figure it out. We have a lot of picks,” Austin Ainge said.
WALTHAM – The Celtics are dotting their ‘I’s’ and crossing their ‘T’s’ this week.
Some of those last-minute preparations for Thursday’s draft include calling players back for a second look.
Austin Ainge, director of player personnel, reminded everyone Saturday, during the final media availability of group workouts in Waltham, that there is a certain value to bringing a player back for a second look, also known as a callback.
Perhaps, the most recent example of this on a significant scale is Marcus Smart, the guard out of Oklahoma State taken sixth overall by the Celtics in the 2014 draft.
“Marcus it was more like he was the guy we kinda wanted to take. And we all liked him a lot. Then he was horrible in his workout,” Ainge said. “And so when we went back and we watched film, we were like, ‘We do like this guy. Let’s give him another chance.’ So, that was the instance with that. We’ve done callbacks in years past where we didn’t end up taking the guy.
There have been callbacks where the guy was banged up or tired and so we said, ‘Alright, let’s look at you again.’ Or sometimes it’s as much as we found some things out in their background check and we want to talk to them about it. Or our doctor wants to take another look. All of these are reasons to have a guy come back.”
How different did Smart look the second time around?
“Significantly. He made shots. He was the Marcus that — he had more fire, just was the Marcus we had seen all season,” Ainge added. “Both of Marcus’ workouts were competitive workouts.
“It’s just case by case. Some guys are just really scheduled all the way up and some guys have room to come back and it just depends on everybody.”
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