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Julius Randle gets some sage advice from Rajon Rondo: ‘Just enjoy the process’ 06.13.14 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
NBA mock draft roundup: Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh popular potential Celtics selections 06.04.14 at 11:58 am ET
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Just three weeks from Thursday, the Celtics will have some important decisions to make regarding their future. The June 26 NBA draft is quickly approaching. And with pre-draft workouts in full swing, the rumors and predictions surrounding each team are growing.

Kevin Love became the story in Boston this week after his surprise visit to the city over the weekend. But what can’t be ignored is the arrival of some of the top college players in the country for the Celtics‘ workouts in Waltham this week.

The C’s have the No. 6 and 17 picks in this year’s draft. While many fans would like to see Boston trade one — or both — of these picks for a star addition such as Love, there are some names gaining traction in mock drafts as potential Celtics selections.

No. 6 — There’s no question the Celtics frontcourt could use a boost. And of the 13 mock drafts reviewed, nine of them expect the C’s to address that concern by selecting either Kentucky’s Julius Randle or Indiana’s Noah Vonleh.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Randle is predicted to fall to the Celtics in five mock drafts, including one by CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish. Parrish writes: “Think of all of the great freshmen who have played at Kentucky, then understand Randle recorded more double-doubles [24] this past season than any of them. His upside isn’t that of [Andrew Wiggins] or [Joel Embiid]. But Randle still projects as a possible future All-Star.”

Four mock drafts have Boston selecting the 6-foot-9, 247-pound Vonleh. A Haverhill native, Vonleh is not a finished product after just one year at Indiana, but he is considered by some to be a rim-protector with the ability to shoot. The Sports Network’s Jim Brighters writes: “The Celtics seems to have a glut of big men with Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Green, but the reality of this slot is that Vonleh is the best available player. Boston needs help shooting and maybe even a replacement for Rajon Rondo, if Danny Ainge moves him. Vonleh’s body needs work, but there are a lot of intangibles in his lean frame. Truthfully, this Indiana product is not that far from being ready, as he has a versatile game.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Kentucky PF Julius Randle 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.

JULIUS RANDLE

Position: Power forward
School: Kentucky
Age: 19
Height: 6-foot-9
Weight: 250 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-0

Key 2013-14 stats: 15 points, 10.4 rebounds, 24.5 PER

Scouting report: Randle is arguably the toughest player in this year’€™s draft because of his hard-nosed style on offense and his tenacity attacking the offensive and defensive boards.

He averaged 4.5 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes by constantly boxing out and overpowering his opponents, but also by hustling and racing to the spot of 50/50 balls. The 19-year-old constantly battles and will likely see this skill translate to the pros.

The Kentucky product also is an advanced ball-handler for his age, though he tends to only use his left hand. He’€™s a bull with the ball and utilizes spins and crossovers, which is unusual for a 250-pounder. In college, this allowed him to get to the rim at a high rate, though he’€™ll need to add a jumper to find that kind of success at the next level.

However, Randle is one of the poorest defenders in the draft. He constantly misses rotations off-ball and is unable to protect the rim because of his average wingspan and low basketball IQ. If Randle doesn’t develop offensively, it’€™s unlikely he’€™ll ever bring enough on the defensive end to carve out significant playing time.

Randle typically struggled in games with NBA-sized bigs, so his transition to the pros will take a little longer than most expect, but he probably does enough as a scorer and rebounder to find his niche.

How he fits: If the Celtics are looking to unload Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk, then Randle could potentially be an upgrade at the big man position. However, the number of mock drafts sending him to Boston is a bit curious considering the team’s current logjam at the position.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: The Randle Problem: Analyzing Julius Randle’s weaknesses on defense

Dean on Draft: Visibility bias and Julius Randle’€™s defense

Video: Here is a video explaining Randle’€™s lapses on defense.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Julius Randle, NBA
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Celtics’ late skid puts them in solid position 04.10.14 at 2:19 pm ET
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I have been saying for about a month now that the bottom three teams in the NBA are etched in stone: Bucks, 76ers and Magic. However, thanks to a nine-game Celtics losing streak, combined with an unlikely two-game Magic winning streak, I was wrong. Both teams enter Thursday with records of 23-55, sharing the third spot in the lottery.

This is exactly what Danny Ainge had in mind at the start of the season, and now his plan is coming to fruition. But with only four games remaining for both Orlando and Boston, losing has become as important as ever this season. The Magic still have the inside track, as they play the Wizards, Nets (looking for revenge for Orlando’€™s win Wednesday), Bulls and Pacers.

The Celtics, on the other hand, have some very winnable games, so this is going to require some dedication to losing. The C’s face the Bobcats, Cavaliers, 76ers and Wizards in their final four outings. Yes, that’€™s right, the Celtics and 76ers will face off in another dreadful battle like the one we saw last Friday night at the Garden. Boston’s other three opponents are either trying to fight their way into the postseason or are jostling for position, so they arguably have something to play for.

This is all speculation at the moment, but if we are going by what the numbers tell us, Orlando will lose out. Meanwhile, the C’s should lose three of those games, leaving us with the 76ers contest. Look, the Celtics roster is clearly better than Philly’s, but Brad Stevens and company are going to have to understand the importance of sacrificing this game. This single game could hold the value of moving up one spot in the lottery — or not falling back a spot, depending on which way you want to look at it.

On top of that, unless the 14-win Bucks finish on a hot streak, the 76ers have nothing to lose by winning games now. They are six wins behind the Magic and Celtics, so even if they win out they still hold the second spot in the lottery. Essentially, I am saying the 76ers can stop tanking and it will not affect their lottery odds. Monday night in Philadelphia is the Celtics’ biggest game of the season.

This is all premature, as we have no clue what will happen in these games. The Magic are hot, maybe they can win another one and the C’€™s finish with sole possession of the third lottery spot. Maybe Orlando’€™s schedule is too much and Boston slips back to the fourth spot. Then there is the event of a tie, which actually is more likely at this point — both teams could easily go winless the rest of the season. If Boston and Orlando share the third-worst record in the NBA, they would split the lottery odds of third and fourth down the middle — a 42.4 percent chance at a top-three pick and an 89.4 percent chance at a top-five pick each.

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Read More: Andrew Wiggins, Danny Ainge, Dante Exum, Jabari Parker
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Final Four players to watch 04.05.14 at 10:07 pm ET
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That is my tweet following Friday night’€™s nine-point Celtics loss to the 76ers in a game in which Boston was favored by double digits. And after sleeping on it, I feel even more strongly that this was the C’€™s best loss of the season.

Now sitting alone in the fourth lottery position, Boston is coming off of a crushing blowout at the hands of the Wizards and an embarrassing home loss to Philly. Seriously, everyone who came off the Sixers bench I had to Google to find out who they were. This season is not worth trying to figure out anymore.

The only thing worth understanding? Nothing is more valuable than losing these final games. Boston could realistically finish with anywhere from the fourth-best to seventh-best lottery odds, it’€™s that tight. Look, it sucks to cheer for your team to lose, I get that, but it’€™s almost over. Next year the Celts are going to be on the rise whether Danny Ainge uses his draft picks or trades them. So if you truly bleed green, you can cheer for just a few more losses before we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But is anyone even paying attention? The Red Sox are kicking off their World Series defense, the Bruins are at the same point of the season as the Celtics, only as the top team in the East, and the Patriots are working out some of the top quarterbacks in May’€™s draft.

Honestly, there is nothing on the court worth watching right now when it comes to Celtics basketball. The highlight of the last couple of months came on Monday when Rajon Rondo was in the booth calling the first half of Celtics vs. Bulls. The next big date for the Celtics is May 20 — the draft lottery. So here is something short term and something long term for Celtics fans to pay attention to until the big date.

In the short term, well, fortunately, we have the Final Four. This is our last chance to watch college hoops until next season, at the price of many of the top prospects already being sent home. But Kentucky is an interesting team to watch simply because of Julius Randle. A lot can happen between now and June, but right now Randle is expected to be about the fifth pick in the draft — the Celtics are expected to hold about the fifth pick in the draft. See the connection there?

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Read More: Andrew Wiggins, Chris Walker, Frank Kaminsky, Jabari Parker
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Top prospects exit early from March Madness, but some intriguing talents remain 03.26.14 at 10:46 am ET
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Remember last week when I said that the beginning of March Madness is the greatest four-day stretch on the sports calendar? Well, I rarely get to reap the benefits of being right, so this is the part where I say, “I told you so.”

Seriously, what a weekend. Some will whine and complain about the low scores, the long shot clock or the quality of the play. Really!? Mercer completely outplaying Duke wasn’t shocking enough for you? Harvard winning a tournament game for the second year in a row, then giving Michigan State a run for its money didn’t entertain you? Dayton battling past Ohio State and Syracuse into the Sweet 16 — setting up a double-digit-seed showdown with Stanford, which took down Kansas — didn’t inspire you? Sorry to ramble, but this tournament is just too much fun.

To sum it all up, just picture this: No. 5-seed VCU is at the free throw line for a pair, up four points, with 10 seconds left against 12th-seed Stephen F. Austin. Now I tell you Stephen F. Austin will win this game by two points in overtime, arriving there on two missed free throws followed by an improbable four-point-play with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation. Would you even believe me? It makes it 10 times more fun if you had Stephen F. Austin in your bracket, too.

This is why you watch March Madness.

The Celtics are involved in some madness of their own, as they jostle for lottery position in the bottom-heavy NBA. They currently are slotted into the fifth lottery spot, which after giving a glance at the standings and schedules isn’€™t a horrible place to end up. With 12 games remaining, Boston has to face the amazingly horrible 76ers (riding a cool 25-game losing streak) twice before season’€™s end, but the rest of their games could be helpful to their cause.

The Celtics will play the Bulls, Raptors and Wizards twice each, along with games against the Hawks and Bobcats — all teams battling for playoff position in the East. Lets just say those teams will be playing for a lot more than the Celts. And even when Boston faces off against fellow lottery competition on the road in Cleveland and Detroit, those games come on the tail end of back-to-backs ‘€“ meaning no Rajon Rondo. A 3-9 finish is not too much to ask for going into Wednesday night when Boston plays host to Toronto.

As much fun as the NCAA tournament was to watch, things didn’t go quite as well for the top NBA prospects. Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart went down in their first games, Andrew Wiggins dropped his second game (ending his college career with a four-point stinker) and Joel Embiid never even played. Add Dante Exum (the heralded Australian prospect) to the mix, and none of the potential top five picks in the draft will be playing in a Sweet 16 game.

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Read More: Aaron Gordon, Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, Jabari Parker
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Celtics must go fourth with more losing 03.14.14 at 10:32 am ET
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The New England Patriots finally got the message that they needed to do more to win. As you know by now, the Pats agreed to a deal with highly coveted cornerback Darrelle Revis on Wednesday, an uncharacteristic move for the organization.

The Celtics have uncharacteristically been losing all season, but they might have come to grips with another message on the night Revis was brought to New England — they need to do more to lose.

I thought Boston might have been on that path last week after a blowout loss to the Warriors, but the C’s ended up winning their next two games. Maybe this time around it will be different. Wednesday’s 24-point thumping at home at the hands of the depleted Knicks — with Rajon Rondo sitting on the Celtics bench — was nothing short of inspiring for Boston’€™s lottery odds.

Since last week’s draft piece the Celtics have gone from the fourth-worst record in the NBA to a tie for seventh worst to back into a three-way tie for fourth worst. Some, including myself, think the NBA plays too many games, the thought process being that fewer games will put more emphasis on winning in the regular season. However, this season it’s arguable that the last month of the regular season will carry significance, only much more crucial to the clear-cut lottery teams than anyone else.

The three highest lottery spots are essentially locked up at this point by the Bucks, 76ers and Magic, but the next four spots (where the Celtics figure to land) remain wide open. What’s the emphasis on winning the rest of the season? Well, the only answer seems to be “to instill a winning mentality,” as some would say. If you think the difference between winning 30 games and 25 games is going to make Jared Sullinger arrive next season feeling more confident, then you do not know the NBA.

A season like this happened right in front of our eyes in 2006-07, and look how that turned out the next year. So what’s the emphasis on losing? Well, there actually is hard evidence that this is the right move. The team that finishes with the fourth-highest lottery odds will have a 37.8 percent chance at a top-three pick and an 82.8 percent chance at selecting in the top five. The seventh-highest lottery odds only yield a 15 percent chance at a top-three pick; otherwise you pick seventh or later.

Yes, there are no guarantees in the lottery, but I ask pro-winning Celtics fans this: Would you rather miss the playoffs and own the fourth spot in the lottery, or miss the playoffs and own the seventh spot in the lottery?

With the ever-changing landscape at the bottom of the NBA, a mock draft seems almost useless. Instead, this week I will post my current big board as it stands prior to the NCAA tournament.

1. Jabari Parker, freshman, Duke – I wrote about the possibility of the Celtics stealing Parker in the draft last week, and I maintain that he is the best player in the draft (assuming he declares). Parker has been a beast all season, and he finished the regular season with perhaps his best performance. With Duke hosting rival North Carolina, Parker dropped a season-high 30 points and collected 11 boards in a 93-81 victory. He is a can’t-miss star at the next level.

2. Joel Embiid, freshman, Kansas – The big man is battling a stress fracture in his back, and it is worse than anticipated. Embiid will not play until the Sweet 16 at the earliest, and that obviously is only if Kansas is fortunate enough to make it there. This injury doesn’t change his draft stock, though. He still is very smooth on his feet for a 7-footer and possesses a growing skill set reminiscent of Hakeem Olajuwon.

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Read More: Aaron Gordon, Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, Doug McDermott
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