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Jaylen Brown learned first-hand about NBA intensity during recent 1-on-1 game with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler 06.23.16 at 9:48 pm ET
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Jaylen Brown has the athleticism to excel in the NBA. (John Hefti/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown has the athleticism to excel in the NBA. (John Hefti/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown learned about NBA intensity from a name Celtics fans lusted after — Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler.

Because Brown and Butler share a trainer, they worked out together before the draft. A workout turned into a game one of one-on-one. They planned to play three.

“We went tooth and nail at it. … I guess he thought it would be easy, and then somebody won the first game and then he wanted to keep going,” Brown told reporters in New York. “And so we kept going after that, then he won the second, then he won the third, then I won the fourth, and we ended up playing all the way to 21.”

Brown wouldn’t reveal who won, but he’ll have a chance to renew acquaintances with Butler and the rest of the NBA’s most versatile swingmen after being selected third overall by the Celtics in Thursday’s NBA draft.

“Boston is a great city full of culture, full of life, education, things that mean a lot to me,” Brown said. “I’m super excited. I cannot wait to get there and can’t wait to get everything started, can’t wait for the season to start, and I’m happy to be a part of the family.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Celtics, Celtics draft
Celtics select French big man Guerschon Yabusele with 16th pick at 9:27 pm ET
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Guerschon Yabusele greets NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected 16th by the Celtics. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Guerschon Yabusele greets NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected 16th by the Celtics. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

After taking Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, the Celtics used the 16th pick on Guerschon Yabusele, a relatively unknown 20-year old prospect from France. Yabusele is a 6-foot-8 forward who last played for Rouen Métropole Basket in the French A division. With his outside shooting ability and athleticism, Yabusele projects to be a small-ball four. 

In most mock drafts, Yabusele was not projected to be selected until the second round. The Celtics already have a relatively full roster, and according to Yahoo Sports, the team will likely stash Yabusele in France as he continues to develop. Rouen was relegated to the French B division, so there is a chance that Yabusele will use this as an opportunity to make the jump to the NBA. The Celtics still have the 23rd pick in the first round, as well as five second-round picks.

Yabusele, 20, averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last year. He’s considered a more advanced offensive player than defender, with NBA 3-point range and the ability to finish at the rim.

“Nobody was expecting,” Yabusele said when asked if he thought he’d be picked so high. “I see them coming close to me, see my name. So I was really surprised to be in here, but I was so happy.”

As for remaining in Europe for a year or two, Yabusele sounded open to the possibility.

“It’s not a problem for me,” he said. “Even if I got to go one year, two years in Europe, in another country and play, I’ll go. I just want to play in the NBA and try to be better, so it’s great.”

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Celtics, Celtics draft
Report: Celtics boss Danny Ainge meets with agent for Kevin Love, Harrison Barnes, Brandon Ingram 06.16.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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According to a Twitter report from Andrew Perna of RealGM, Celtics president Danny Ainge met with the agent for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and impending free agent Harrison Barnes this week in New York.

Perna reports that Ainge spoke with agent Jeff Schwartz, who also represents potential top-two pick Brandon Ingram of Duke. The report doesn’t specify what was discussed, but notes that such meetings are common.

Ainge could’ve been inquiring on Barnes, who is expected to receive in the neighborhood of a max contract this offseason after filling an everyman role for the Golden State Warriors.

He also, more intriguingly, could’ve been feeling out Schwartz informally on the potential availability of Love this summer after two relatively lackluster seasons with the Cavaliers in the shadow of LeBron James.

Love has never meshed perfectly in Cleveland, and the Celtics have shown interest in the 27-year-old in the past, including two years ago, when he was spotted at a Red Sox game with then-Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. The Celtics were unable to swing a deal with Minnesota at that time, though, and Love was instead traded to Cleveland to form a new Big Three with James and Kyrie Irving.

Read More: Celtics, Celtics rumors, Danny Ainge, Harrison Barnes rumors
Report: Sixers prefer to trade Jahlil Okafor over Nerlens Noel 06.13.16 at 4:02 pm ET
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Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil Okafor

With the NBA draft 10 days away, the rumor mill continues to churn, with the latest report suggesting the Philadelphia 76ers have decided which big man they’d like to deal away — Jahlil Okafor.

According to Philly.com, the Sixers would rather deal Okafor than fellow youngster Nerlens Noel, because they feel they can get a better return for Okafor, who last year became their first rookie since Allen Iverson to lead the team in scoring.

Okafor is recovering from knee surgery and told a Duke podcast that he hopes to return to the court shortly.

The Sixers are expected to take LSU’s Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, adding another big man to a crowded young frontcourt. The Sixers chose Okafor No. 3 overall last year, and they acquired the rights to Noel after the Pelicans selected the Malden native with the sixth overall pick in 2013.

The Celtics were linked to Okafor at the trade deadline, but there are concerns over his fit in Boston, since he’s not a great rim protector and generally plays with his back to the basket. He averaged 17.5 points a game last year.

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Celtics, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel
Celtics Choice: Dragan Bender vs. Kevin Love 06.07.16 at 4:24 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 third pick on Croatian big man Dragan Bender or trading it as part of a package to land Cavaliers forward Kevin Love.

The case for Bender

In a word, potential. Seven-foot-1 athletes with 3-point shooting range and the quickness to defend inside and out don’t come along very often, and the immediate success of Kristaps Porzingis in New York will undoubtedly have an NBA team hoping lightning can strike twice with Bender, who spent the season playing limited minutes in a reserve role for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel’s top professional league. That kind of experience against veteran competition should only help Bender transition to the NBA, but even the most optimistic assessment doesn’t have him making an impact for at least a couple of years. NBA scouts love his lateral quickness, 9-foot-3 reach, and feel for the game. He’s considered a gifted passer with the kind of shooting stroke that suggests he’ll have NBA range in due time.

The case against Bender

In a word, potential. While Bender could end up being Porzingis or (best-case scenario) Dirk Nowitzki, he could also go the route of Darko Milicic. No one knows for certain how he’ll handle NBA competition, if he’ll add enough strength to compete on the boards, if he’ll take his game to another level. There’s also his lack of playing time in Israel this year, which has produced modest stats (5.5 points, 3 rebounds per game). Still only 18 years old, Bender is a mystery even to teams that have scouted him extensively overseas. He will require time to develop when he arrives, and a team like the Celtics, with an ownership and fan base that expects to win now, might not have the stomach to endure the inevitable growing pains. There’s a chance he gets completely swallowed up by the strength of NBA players at the point of attack, leaving him as a Brad Lohaus-type, which definitely isn’t worthy of the third pick.

The case for Love

In a word, experience. There are no mysteries about Cleveland’s third wheel. He’s a proven All-Star in the NBA with the ability to lead an offense as an elite scorer — he twice averaged over 26 a game in Minnesota — and he can score in any number of ways. A traditional post presence early in his career, Love has since added legit NBA 3-point range to emerge as one of the best stretch-4s in the game, even if he hates that term. He made just 2-of-19 3-pointers as a rookie in 2008-09, but saw those numbers increase to 190-for-505 during his final season in Minnesota before joining the Cavaliers last season. Add tremendous rebounding ability (11.5 per game lifetime), excellent vision to pass out of double teams, and the title of the game’s best outlet passer, and Love is a legit superstar.

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Read More: Celtics, Celtics choice, Dragan Bender, Kevin Love
Report: Celtics to work out Croatian draft prospect Dragan Bender at 12:33 pm ET
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Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

According to a published report, the Celtics have scheduled a workout with Croatian big man Dragan Bender, whom they could potentially select with the third overall pick.

Bleacher Report’s David Pick reports via twitter that Bender will visit the Celtics, Suns, and Timberwolves in the U.S.

The Celtics have already scouted Bender in Israel, where he’s playing professionally. Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said watching him in a practice environment and playing one-on-one against his younger brother, Ivan, a Maryland recruit, provided a better look at his skills.

“We had a 1-on-none and a 1-on-1 type of workout with his brother,” Ainge told reporters. “Actually, [Ivan] will be playing at Maryland next year. He’s a 6-10 kid. And then we watched [Dragan] in a full-team practice, which we actually thought was better than a game because we’d seen all his games. We’d seen him play in person in games and, because he’s not playing a major role as an 18-year-old in a tough Israeli league, we were able to watch him practice. And we thought that was more beneficial than what we’d seen in games.”

The 7-foot-1 center is considered a project because of his age and experience, but he’s also one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, thanks to his shooting ability and athleticism. While there had been rumors of the Lakers’ interest at No. 2, which would’ve upended the draft, Pick recently reported that L.A. will stick with Duke’s Brandon Ingram at No. 2.

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Celtics, Dragan Bender, No. 3 pick
Celtics Choice: Al Horford vs. DeMar DeRozan 06.02.16 at 11:14 am ET
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In the days leading up to June’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: Signing free agent big man Al Horford of the Hawks, or targeting free agent scorer DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors

The case for Horford

Did you watch the playoffs? The Hawks dominated the Celtics inside and even though he didn’t have a great statistical series, Horford was a big reason why. He’ll never be the focal point of an offense, but he does many things well that the Celtics value, especially on defense, where he’s capable of checking shooters on the perimeter on pick-and-rolls before retreating to defend the rim. He’d also provide a legitimate post presence and he’s an excellent inside-out passer. He’s a four-time All-Star for a reason and he’s selfless, which fits the Celtics’ model perfectly. He’d probably be good for 15-8-3 a night, conservatively, and he’s considered a winning player. If you’ve ever wondered what he’d look like in a Celtics uniform, an NBA2K16 player made that trade in the video below.

The case against Horford

He turns 30 on Friday and at times it looks like an old 30. He has suffered tears of each pectoral muscle during his career, limiting him to 11 games in 2011-12 and 29 games two years later, though he played all 82 this season. There’s also the philosophical matter of giving a max contract to a player on the wrong side of 30 who doesn’t exactly fill up the scoresheet. In a vacuum, any team would take Horford. But considering the money it will take to sign him, it’s hard to argue he’s worth it, particularly since the Celtics are looking to add an A-1 option to slot ahead of Isaiah Thomas. Horford isn’t that guy … unless he’d somehow get them Kevin Durant.

The case for DeRozan

The Celtics need scoring, and that’s basically all DeRozan has done since arriving out of USC with the No. 9 pick in the 2009 draft. He averaged a career-high 23.5 points a game this season and led the Raptors to their first Eastern Conference Finals, where they managed to deal the mighty Cavaliers their only two losses of the postseason. DeRozan is a classic scoring wing, with an excellent turnaround game in the post and the ability to get to the rim or get fouled almost at will. The majority of his points come from within 12 feet, but points are points. He finished second in the NBA in free throws made (555) and third in attempts (653), good for a career-high 85 percent from the line. He’s also a solid perimeter defender who doesn’t turn 27 until August. There’s the added bonus that signing him would rob a division rival of its best player. He’s a two-time All-Star.

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 NBA free agency, Al Horford, Celtics
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