|Report: Celtics ‘thinking big,’ potentially trying to move up in NBA draft||06.23.15 at 10:31 am ET|
With two first-round picks, reports have surfaced around the possibility of Celtics‘ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge trying to move up in Thursday’s NBA draft. The Celtics currently hold the 16th and 28th picks in the first round, both making for huge bargaining chips around the league.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, a rival executive described the Celtics being “aggressive” and “thinking big” in potentially moving up in the draft. Reports circulated late last week about the Celtics possibly moving up to acquire Texas forward Myles Turner, who is expected to be picked in the lottery range before the Celtics first pick.
(It is worth mentioning, moving up in the draft can be a hard thing to do, which Ben Rohrbach wrote about here.)
Additionally, rumors have continued about a foot issue with potential top-five pick Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein, causing him to slide in the first round. Cauley-Stein, a rim protector, is exactly what the Celtics have scoured the market for over the past two years since the departure of Kevin Garnett. Another potential target is Kristaps Porzingis, out of Latvia, who is graded by some as the top talent in the draft and would give the Celtics a true scoring option off the pick-and-roll with point guard Isaiah Thomas.
With an excess of cap space, the C’s could also be looking to move picks for an established NBA player. As speculation continues regarding the fate of DeMarcus Cousins, the Celtics remain a dark horse to acquire him if Kings’ ownership cuts the cord.
|NBA draft prospect profile: Latvia PF Kristaps Porzingis||06.20.15 at 7:36 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).
Position: Power forward
Country: Latvia (played for Baloncesto Sevilla in Spain)
Age: 19 (turns 20 on Aug. 2)
Weight: 220 pounds
Key 2014-15 stats: 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks
Scouting report: Porzingis is one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2015 draft. He is a lock to get picked in the lottery, and many mock drafts have him being selected in the top five. Porzingis is a relative unknown to most Americans, having played for both club and national teams in Europe. That being said, he has impressed scouts in workouts since crossing the Atlantic. His combination of size (big enough to be an NBA center) and athleticism make him very appealing. Porzingis’ stature helps him to be proficient as a rim protector. He can run the floor and create offense off the dribble.
Porzingis is a good shooter with a high and fluid release, canning 36 percent of his 3’s this year between Liga ACB and Eurocup play for Sevilla. This is an especially helpful skill to possess in the new-age NBA, with the game evolving and placing more importance on 3-point shooting. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! describes Porzingis as having Dirk Nowitzki‘s shooting touch and Pau Gasol‘s athleticism, which is about as high of praise as a European big man can receive.
“He’s always so calm,” Porzingis’ 32-year-old brother, Janis, a former European basketball star himself, said about him after a recent workout. “Think about this. He played like 50 games last season in ACB at 19 years old, and played like five bad games. I couldn’t do that at 25 years old, let alone 19.”
The most prominent knock on Porzingis seems to be his relatively slight build. To thrive as an interior presence in the NBA, he needs to add some bulk and get stronger. In European play this year, Porzingis didn’t rebound particularly well. While playing somewhat short minutes (21 per game), he could only pull down fewer than five boards per contest. They could also be a result of his skinny body type. However, Porzingis is still a teenager, not turning 20 until August. He has time to develop his body to the size it needs to reach for him to attain his potential as an NBA difference-maker.
Notes: Porzingis has twice been named to the ACB All-Young Players Team, in 2014 and 2015. His brother, Janis, is a former European basketball star and now helps to train Kristaps. Last year Kristaps declared for the draft but withdrew his name.
Since coming to the U.S. and working out for NBA teams and scouts, Porzingis has more than made a name for himself. He has climbed up draft boards and into the hearts and minds of basketball fans nationwide. The hype machine has churned out entire mailbags devoted to “Kristaps Porzingis mania.” The top two picks in the draft seem to be largely predetermined (with Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns going in some order), but Porzingis has been projected to go as high as the third pick to the 76ers. The Knicks (owners of the fourth pick) reportedly are intrigued by Porzingis’ potential ability to fit into Phil Jackson‘s triangle offense.
Porzingis worked out in Las Vegas on June 10 for a gaggle of media members and team executives, including high-ranking representatives from each of the teams with the first four picks in the draft.
Grantland: Who is Kristaps Porzingis?
|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Latvia PF Kristaps Porzingis||05.19.14 at 9:00 am ET|
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.
Position: Power forward
Weight: 220 pounds
Wingspan: Over 7-foot
Key 2013-14 stats: 6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 14.0 minutes
Scouting report: Porzingis is a 7-footer who brings incredible potential as a shot blocker, defender and 3-point shooter. It’s hard to understand why he’s not a consensus lottery pick, though it may be due to his slight frame. But that’s hogwash. One needs just a look at a photo of Joakim Noah at age 18 to see that Porzingis has the same exact build as he did at that age.
Not to say that Porzingis will be a Defensive Player of the Year like Noah, but any concerns about his body should permanently be put to bed, considering his extremely wide frame — ideal for adding muscle — is a positive, not a negative.
Porzingis is attractive as a prospect because his skills are perfect for the modern stretch big man. He struggles with consistency from 3-point range (34.2 percent), but has excellent mechanics and looks silky smooth when spotting up in transition or halfcourt. As a bonus, Porzingis is quite athletic and can finish strong at the rim in transition. Once he adds muscle, it’s reasonable to assume he will make his way onto the SportsCenter Top 10 with some loud dunks.
At only 18 years old, Porzingis already is one of the better individual defenders in Spain’s ACB, arguably the second-best basketball league in the world. Cajasol was an average defense team (104.5 DRtg), but the team was better when Porzingis was on the floor (101.0 DRtg).
The Latvian 7-footer has a long way to go as a threat on the post, as a passer and on the boards, but for a (currently) underweight teenager playing in a league full of grown men, his production is exceptional. He’ll be a “draft-and-stash,” but the rewards could be bountiful in the coming years. In terms of value, Porzingis could be the steal of the draft, especially if he isn’t a lottery pick.
How he fits: Porzingis would provide the Celtics with a potential rim protector once he adds muscle to his wide frame, but in the short term, his aptitude for scoring would provide the team a boost. It’s difficult to slot Porzingis’ draft positioning, but he’s a possible top-10 talent who could slip to the 17th pick.
Eurohopes: Kristaps Porzingis profile
Video: Here is a video scouting report of Porzingis.
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