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Joel Embiid, the Celtics and an NBA foot fetish 06.19.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid

Projected top-three pick Joel Embiid will undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, navicular stress fracture surgery requires 3-4 months of recovery, although fellow 7-footers Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Yao Ming needed more time following similar injuries. Embiid is scheduled for surgery on Friday; training camp is less than four months away.

If teams weren’t already fearful of a freshman 7-footer with just four years basketball experience who also sprained his knee and suffered a season-ending back injury in 2014, you better believe they’re rethinking their draft boards.

The question is whether Embiid will fall from a potential No. 1 overall selection and surefire top-three pick to the Celtics with the sixth pick. Teams haven’t always shied away from selecting injury-plagued bigs with the first few picks in the past, but the Greg Oden saga may have finally changed the landscape.

Take Nerlens Noel, for example. Once believed to be a lock at No. 1 in last year’s draft, the Everett native fell to the 76ers at six. Granted, Noel’s ACL injury necessitated a redshirt season of sorts, but the wealth of talent in this year’s draft may also force teams drafting in the top five to consider a healthy Dante Exum, Marcus Smart or Aaron Gordon over an injured Embiid, even if he could return sooner rather than later.

Likewise, it’s hard to imagine Philadelphia spending a second straight lottery pick on an injured center. And given the presence of young centers Nikola Vucevic in Orlando and Enes Kanter in Utah, it’s certainly not inconceivable Embiid drops to the Celtics if the Cavaliers and Bucks pass on him with the first two picks.

If Joel Embiid falls to the Celtics, should they take him with the sixth pick?

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Cape Verde C Walter Tavares at 9:00 am ET
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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.

Walter Tavares

Walter Tavares

WALTER TAVARES

Position: Center
Country:  Cape Verde
Age: 22
Height: 7-foot-3
Weight: 265 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-8.5

Key 2013-14 stats (ACB Spain): 6.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks

Scouting report: Let’€™s not split hairs: Tavares is a monster. At 7-foot-3 with a gargantuan 92.5-inch wingspan, the Cape Verdean big man is quickly rising up draft boards because of his size. Yet, it’€™s not just his height that has teams excited, because he has abnormally quick feet, which gives him potential as a star pick-and-roll defender.

But he might be years away from ever making that type of impact since he picked up a basketball for the first time in 2010 and is still learning how to play the game and how to use his strength. Tavares is a bit of a gentle giant and occasionally gets overpowered in a David vs. Goliath fashion. Likewise, as you would expect from such an inexperienced player, his fundamentals are poor, as he allows deep post positioning and misses rotations on the defensive end.

Despite the flaws, Tavares has already shown enough potential to warrant consideration as a late first-round pick. With his size and rebounding ability, only his mindset stand in the way of him making an impact in the NBA. If teams believe he has the right attitude to learn, then it would be surprising if he weren’€™t playing consistent minutes in a few years.

How he fits: The Celtics would get the rim protector they so desperately desire, but they’€™d have to wait at least one year for him to really make an impact. Tavares works out with the team this week, and they’ll likely decide whether they really want to draft him or not.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Scouting Spain: Which international bigs could the Celtics have interest in drafting?

NBA.com: Walter Tavares prospect analysis

Video: Walter Tavares video scouting report

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 60-page 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Walter Tavares,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan State G Gary Harris 06.18.14 at 9:00 am ET
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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.

Gary Harris

Gary Harris

GARY HARRIS

Position: Combo guard
SchoolMichigan State
Age: 19
Height: 6-foot-4.5
Weight: 205 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-8

Key 2013-14 stats: 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists

Scouting report: Harris is one of the best defenders in the draft and can easily defend multiple positions despite being undersized. He’€™s a lockdown defender in man-to-man situations, but also is excellent off-ball, constantly displaying top-notch awareness by hitting his rotations and by sticking to players running through screens.

The 19-year-old also has complementary scoring skills on the offensive end, as he is an improving 3-point shooter and ball-handler. Some teams even project him as a “modern point guard” because he is a solid passer and tends to make the right play in pick-and-roll situations.

Harris does have his problems as a scorer, though, as he was extremely inefficient in the half-court, with only a 49.5 effective field goal percentage and a 43.1 at-rim field goal percentage, according to Hoop-Math.com. Part of the reason for those struggles is his lack of a floater or mid-range game to compensate for his finishing ability at the rim.

Overall, Harris has a lot of skill at his age and should continue to improve on the offensive end. Even if he doesn’t, his defense is still good enough for him to carve out a role as a defensive specialist.

How he fits: Harris could work as a contingency plan in case Avery Bradley can’t be re-signed or is used in a sign-and-trade deal. Harris brings a similar skill set and could potentially have even higher upside than Bradley.

Related articles:

ESPN Insider: Why Harris is a lottery pick

SB Nation: The big Gary Harris scouting report: The 3-and-D prototype

Video: Gary Harris pre-draft workout and interview

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 60-page 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Gary Harris,
Austin Ainge is sold on Shabazz Napier as an NBA point guard: ‘He’s going to make it’ 06.17.14 at 1:05 am ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics may or may not get a chance to take Shabazz Napier in the June 26 NBA draft. But team personnel executive Austin Ainge made one thing clear his opinion Monday after Napier’s workout for the team: Napier will be playing somewhere in the NBA eventually.

“Shabazz is so clever and shifty,” Ainge said. “He is very hard to stay in front of because he really changes directions very well. He’s quick but he is even shiftier than he is quick. He’s very clever and he can make shots.

“Shabazz is not physically overwhelming, but he has toughness, intelligence and skill and that extra savvy, so he more than makes up for it. He’s going to make it is my guess. He’s a good player.”

Napier stands just 5-feet-11 and weighs 180 pounds, with a wingspan just over 6-feet-3 and a reach of 7-feet-9. But to Ainge and the Celtics, his ability to lead a winning program on the court has its own rewards in the eyes of basketball evaluators.

“It’s big. It’s big,” Ainge said. “We all can look at physical tools. But the league is full of guys that don’t fit most athletic, physical but still are successful. Shabazz certainly checks the box as to how well physically he can play.”

But those numbers certainly don’t count for everything, like winning two national championships at one of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the country — UConn — and staying at school and playing all four years.

“You can certainly see it,” Ainge said of Napier’s pure skill. “It’s obvious watching Shabazz. Then I think it’s measured in all the other stats. He gets assists, points in the paint and his teams win. All those things can be measured.

“In a college game you learn a lot. But in this, you learn different things. We’re putting him against NBA athletes in NBA positions. That’s probably the biggest advantage for us.”

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Read More: Austin Ainge, Boston Celtics, NBA, Shabazz Napier
Shabazz Napier says he has ‘heart’ to lead an NBA team 06.16.14 at 3:55 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Before stepping on the court for a workout Monday morning at the Celtics training facility, Shabazz Napier wanted to make sure he took it all in.

So, the former University of Connecticut star point guard — born in Roxbury and schooled at Charlestown High — came in Sunday night and took some time before an informal shootaround to just be the fan of the Celtics he was growing up.

“I came in [Sunday] to shoot a little bit,” Napier said. “For about a good 5-10 minutes, I looked around at the banners. Just a warm feeling. [Watching] the Celtics growing up, being a Boston fan and you get those chills you every time you watch those films. It took me about five to 10 minutes to realize I was here.”

Monday, Napier was all business. He took part in an NBA pre-draft workout Monday morning for the Celtics. The two-time NCAA champion guard says he may not have all the physical tools like size and length but his heart makes him an NBA leader. Napier grew up in the Boston area before leaving for UConn but says he still cheers for Boston teams like the Celtics.

One thing he wanted to get across in his meeting with reporters was his confidence that he can do in the NBA what he did at UConn — lead a team to a championship.

“I don’t have the crazy wingspan,” said Napier, whose wingspan at the combine was measured at 6-foot-3.25 inches. “I just have the heart that a lot of guys with those attributes don’t have. You put me in front of anybody I’m going to compete. That’s the biggest thing that I have gotten since I was younger. I was always the littlest guy. Those are the things I can’t worry about. Just be myself. There are a lot of guys with those attributes that can’t lead a team like I can. There’s always a reason for something. I’m definitely happy I can lead a team.

“I’ve been to six [NBA] teams so far and basketball has taken me there. It’s been a blessing.”

Napier said that he plans to work out for at least two more teams, including the Rockets this week, before sitting back and watching where his name is called on June 26.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Connecticut Huskies, NBA, NBA Draft
With his lesson learned, Marcus Smart ready to prove he can play at ‘next level’ 06.13.14 at 7:48 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Marcus Smart has high expectations.

Those expectations include a high draft position on June 26, a long, successful and financially beneficial career and the chance to compete for an NBA title.

Now, the issue is whether the Celtics help Smart fulfill those dreams. The Celtics held a pre-draft workout on Friday morning that featured six guards. The group was headlined by the 20-year-old who spent two seasons at Oklahoma State.

Several mock drafts, including the most recent on WEEI.com’s Green Street, have the former Cowboy selected between spots 4-8 on June 26. So, landing in Boston with the No. 6 overall pick is a strong possibility.

“€œI just came out here and competed,” Smart said of his workout, “€œI wanted to prove that I can play at the next level.”€

Coach Brad Stevens had a strong takeaway from watching Smart work out.

“€œI thought he was good, he was physical, he’€™s a leader,”€ Stevens said. “[I] thought he shot the ball well in drills. He’€™s got a way about him that people follow. He’€™s a very tough guy, he competed the whole time. My expectations for him were high in that regard, but he certainly met them. He’€™s going to be a good player.”

Not surprisingly, one of the first questions Smart fielded was about the altercation he was involved with back on Feb. 8 when he shoved a fan at Texas Tech.

“Surprisingly, not many teams have asked me about it,”€ he offered, “€œThey kind of just understand it’€™s the competitiveness in [me]. … And I know I’ve learned my lesson from it.”

Stevens had little concern as well. When asked if he had any concerns about Smart’€™s maturity, Stevens replied, “€œNo, not at all.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA, NBA Draft
Julius Randle gets some sage advice from Rajon Rondo: ‘Just enjoy the process’ at 2:56 pm ET
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WALTHAM — After one year at Kentucky, forward Julius Randle feels he’s ready to take on the NBA.

Friday, following a pre-draft workout for the Celtics, the 19-year-old showed just how ready he is by answering a non-stop stream of questions from reporters about the state of his right foot, which had a pin placed in it in his senior year of high school to help heal a break.

There were reports Thursday that some NBA general managers believe the foot did not heal properly and that it could be an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

“My foot is fine,” Randle said. “Everybody has their opinion on what [I] should do but I’m pain-free. There’s no pain before, during or after. I’m fine.”

Randle said surgery has not been considered to this point.

“It’s never been considered,” he said. “I’ve met with my own doctor and talked to specialists, some of the best doctors in the world and they said they wouldn’t do anything with it. [I] broke it back in high school. I have a pin in it. I guess some people may think they want to put a different one in. I don’t know. I have no clue. It’s the draft and they want to know about it.

Where did he get the advice on how to handle the barrage of questions that he knew would be coming? Another Kentucky product — Rajon Rondo – spoke with him before his workout and gave him some advice.

“I talked to him a little bit today and yesterday,” Randle said. “We kind of have that Kentucky connection. Rondo is a great guy. I have nothing bad to say about him. He’s a great guy, competitor. I’d love to play with him.

“Just be myself, just enjoy the process. A 19-year-old kid going through this can be a lot. Just really enjoy the process, have fun with it, and don’t let outside distractions take away from your joy of the process. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, that’s what my family has told me to do and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

The media hype Friday over a pre-draft workout in Boston gave him a little taste of what to expect in the NBA, especially if he’s selected by the Celtics.

“It’s a little bit of the same. Kentucky prepares you a lot for things like these,” he said of playing for John Calipari for just one season. “At Kentucky, this is all they know, Kentucky basketball. So, it really prepared me from an expectation level. The fans of Boston, city of Boston has great expectations for their team. This is a winning organization, a championship organization. Kentucky is the same way. Our season is a lot shorter, they don’t expect to win maybe two games at the most.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Julius Randle, Kentucky Wildcats, NBA
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