|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|
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.
I wish I could get a chance to play on the USA team! Looking at the history of it I’ve never seen a small guard get selected 2 even try out
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) June 10, 2016
|Celtics Choice: Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield vs. Kentucky guard Jamal Murray||06.09.16 at 1:38 pm ET|
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.
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.
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
|Jamal Murray out to prove he’s ‘best player’ in draft: ‘I can score on anybody’||06.08.16 at 2:14 pm ET|
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.”
|A crazy busy Zach Auguste comes home for a Celtics workout: ‘I’ve got 19. All downhill from here’||at 12:40 pm ET|
Zach Auguste "nothing makes me prouder than to put this jersey on and have a workout" on his Celtics workout Weds pic.twitter.com/CZoJX3WFO9
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) June 8, 2016
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.’
WALTHAM – Several potential first-round choices came to Waltham Wednesday as the Celtics gear up their scouting and preparations for the NBA draft two weeks from Thursday.
Jamal Murray (Kentucky) and Cheick Diallo (Kansas) were invited to the Celtics’ practice facility.
Also attending were Zach Auguste (Notre Dame), Farad Cobb (Cincinnati), Adam Pechacek (Czech Republic), Adam Smith (Georgia Tech), Terry Allen (Richmond) and Domanatas Sabonis (Gonzaga).
Murray and Sabonis were invited for individual workouts while the rest worked in a group, concentrating on 3-on-3 and other drills.
Wednesday marked the second of three workout days in a busy pre-draft week for the Celtics.
There was no word from the team as to whether Dragan Bender would be working out on Thursday after it was reported Tuesday that the 7-foot-1 big man from Croatia would be taking part in workouts for three NBA teams, including the Celtics.
|Brad Stevens sings praise of Avery Bradley: ‘You could make a strong case for him to be defensive player of year’||06.06.16 at 6:18 pm ET|
WALTHAM – If Brad Stevens has anything to say about it, Avery Bradley and his $8 million per year salary isn’t going anywhere this offseason.
The Celtics coach spoke for the first time since the star defensive guard was chosen first-team NBA all-defense last week.
“I think it was clearly deserved. I think that you could make a strong case for him to be Defensive Player of the Year or in consideration for that because he is so versatile in his ability to defend guards,” Stevens said after the second of two pre-draft workouts Monday in Waltham.
The Defensive Player of the Year award went to the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, who won the honor for a second straight year.
But that didn’t keep Stevens from pointing out that Bradley could arguably be placed among the best defensive guards in basketball.
“I think if you polled the guards in the NBA, really 1 through 3, Avery’s name would come up a lot,” Stevens added. “So, obviously it’s against great competition. The guys who got honored all deserve it. But I don’t think it’s as simple as saying there’s one Defensive Player of the Year when you have somebody of Avery’s caliber and his ability to impact the game.”
Stevens said that he has been in contact with Bradley, and that rehab on his right hamstring is coming along after straining it badly in Game 1 against the Hawks, forcing him to miss the rest of the playoffs.
“I don’t have an update on where he is in the physical rehab part, but obviously after he won the award we communicated, and he’s getting better,” Stevens said.
Bradley’s name could come up in trade talk at some point this summer, as he is not only considered one of the more underrated guards in the league, he is affordably priced. Bradley is entering the third year of a four-year contract totaling $32 million.
WALTHAM – The Celtics are beginning to narrow down their potential choices for the No. 3 spot in the draft.
Brad Stevens acknowledged Monday that he is watching video clips of all the possibilities and discussing their strengths with his staff.
“I’ve got a good idea when I talk to Danny and the front office about who they are really targeting and focused on, as far as, again, there’s seven or eight guys,” Stevens said after Monday’s doubleheader workout that involved 12 players from college and Europe.
The names that come to mind most frequently after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown (who worked out last Wednesday), Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn and Jamaal Murray.
But what Stevens made clear is that, with eight picks overall, including five in the second round, the Celtics have to be ready to pick wherever and whenever, depending on what deals may or may not be made.
“We’ve got so many picks that you can’t stop there,” Stevens added. “Whether you’re watching clips, individual clips or highlight films or whatever the case may be, what I like to do is I like to watch full-game footage, and specifically end-of-game footage on a lot of different guys. We have so many picks, any game you turn on, almost might include somebody, so it’s pretty good.”
Austin Ainge joked that Stevens asked, as part of his new contract, that he not have eight rookies to coach next season. Stevens, appreciating the humor, said the number of picks doesn’t make the job any easier in terms of evaluation.
“I don’t know about easier. I think it’s hard any time you’ve got the volume of potential picks that we have and all that goes with that. I think that, again, my job is just to give an opinion when asked,” Stevens said. “So those guys have been watching all year. Those guys know what they are looking for, who they are looking at. Again, these workouts, I think, sometimes help validate some things for them. They are probably more beneficial for our staff because we haven’t seen guys as much, specifically we haven’t seen guys live.”
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