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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: USC C Nikola Vucevic 06.06.11 at 12:11 pm ET
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USC center Nikola Vucevic's stock has risen ever since he walked onto a college campus three years ago. (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Nikola Vucevic

Position: Center

Team: University of Southern California

Height: 7-foot

Weight: 260 pounds

Stats: 17.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg

What he brings: Nikola Vucevic may be a European center, but unlike many before him he’s not an unknown commodity. He played his senior year of high school at Stoneridge Prep (Simi Valley, Calif.) before earning a scholarship to USC.

After averaging just 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman, he captured Pac-10 Most Improved Player honors in his sophomore campaign and produced 17.1 points (50.5 FG%, 34.9 3-PT FG% & 75.5 FT%), 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 blocks before declaring for the draft after his junior season.

The tallest player at the 2011 NBA combine, Vucevic possesses a lot of qualities generally associated with European bigs — touch around the rim, a reliable mid-range jump shot (as well as developing 20-foot-plus range) and a lack of athleticism. He’s been criticized for his failure to play “above the rim” and his lack of success against athletic NBA-caliber big men. However, his high motor, particularly on the defensive glass, has separated him a bit from the stereotype.

More skilled than a guy like Semih Erden, Vucevic is expected to be a valuable backup center in the NBA — a role the Celtics most definitely need to fill. Touted for his high character, Vucevic has hinted that he may play in Europe for a year should a lockout threaten the 2011-12 NBA season, and such experience could actually serve the still-developing center well.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “His strength, his conditioning, and the key, for me, for Nik to make it in the NBA, he has to become a proficient NBA 3-point shooter, which is a much harder shot than the college 3. And he’s not a totally proficient college 3-point shooter, yet. He’s got to be shooting four times a week, 1,000 NBA 3s a day. That’s what he needs.” — USC coach Kevin O’Neill

Notes: The Swiss-born Vucevic was raised in Belgium before moving to Montenegro as a teenager. Both of his parents — father Borislav and mother Ljiljana — played both professionally and for the Yugoslavian men’s and women’s national teams, as chronicled in this LA Times piece. Vucevic himself has played for the Montenegro U20 national team, averaging 15.5 points and 10.8 rebounds during the 2009 European Championships. Oh, and Vucevic, who said he would want to be an actor if he weren’t a basketball player (hence, USC), learned English partly as a result of watching “Love & Basketball” over and over.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Duke F Kyle Singler 05.31.11 at 6:07 pm ET
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Kyle Singler (AP)WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Kyle Singler

Position: Forward

School: Duke

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 228 pounds

Stats: 16.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg

What he brings: Singler had a distinguished four-year career at Duke and has experience at the highest levels of the college game. That’s a double-edged sword in the modern era of the draft where potential has a great currency than production. He’s also 23 years old, which is ancient for a prospect.

Singler has a reputation as a shooter, but his 3-point shooting also fell dramatically this season down to 32 percent. He’s not much of an inside player so he’ll have to be able to knock down jumpers. There are also questions about his athleticism and who he will guard in the NBA, but he’s a smart player and a good passer. In the right system and with the right team, he could become a solid role player. It’s difficult to project him being more than that as a pro.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “Kyle Singler is rock solid. He’s got the Duke pedigree. He plays with a Shane Battier enthusiasm. He came back to school for all four years. Let’s not punish him for that and then have all these discussions about guys coming out too early. This kid came back to school, left his imprint on that school, had a wonderful experience and now he’s ready for NBA life. He has limitations physically. But if you’re a good team drafting late in the first round, you slot him right in.” — ESPNU analyst Tom Penn.

Notes: Singler is a great trick-shot artist (see video below). The YouTube clip, “Kyle Gets Buckets” has over 800,000 page views.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Boston College guard Reggie Jackson 05.30.11 at 2:23 pm ET
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Boston College guard Reggie Jackson hit 42 percent of his 3-pointers as a junior. (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Reggie Jackson

Position: Guard

School: Boston College

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 208 pounds

Stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.5 apg

What he brings: Local hoop fans already know all about Jackson, who had a standout junior year, averaging 18 points and enjoying a huge upturn in his 3-point shooting from 29 percent as a sophomore to 42 percent as a junior. Jackson isn’t a pure point guard but he is a guard in the traditional sense. Perhaps most intriguing about Jackson is his wingspan, which has been measured at 7 feet. That length, combined with his athletic ability and on-court savvy could make for a destructive defensive-minded guard with scoring ability. In a best-case scenario Jackson has the skills to help a team this year.

There are questions about Jackson’s ability to duplicate his long-distance shooting and he falls into the tweener category — maybe not a point guard, too small for the 2-guard. That has him in the range of low lottery to mid-20s like a handful of players in this draft.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round.

What they’re saying: “The amazing thing for Reggie has been his IQ for the game. I think he has a great feel for the game.” — Boston College coach Steve Donahue

Notes: Jackson came into the draft combine with a decent buzz, but he didn’t participate in the combine citing an injury. That has dropped him a few pegs in various mock drafts and in the Celtics range.

Video:

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Thomsen on D&H: ‘Celtics got a better version of Eddie House’ 06.25.10 at 3:17 pm ET
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A day after the NBA draft, Sports Illustrated NBA insider Ian Thomsen talked to the Dale & Holley show to discuss what the Celtics picked up in the draft, what the future holds in store for the C’s and where LeBron James will end up next year.

“The Celtics got a better version of Eddie House,” Thomsen said about Avery Bradley, the Celtics’ first-round pick. “They got a guy who’s a terrific shooter; he’s got great range, but he’s a very good defender.”

“The one thing he doesn’t do [is] he doesn’t drive the ball great. He’s a much better shooter than he is a driver. …They’re going to have to hope he can come off the bench and be the backup point guard they needed.”

Highlights of the interview are below. To listen to the interview in full, click on The Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On the possibility of Paul Pierce signing a smaller contract to bring in a big name free agent:

You know, they renounce him and then they give up their Bird rights to him, so now when he signs a new contract, he gets none of the value of re-signing with his own team. It’s like he signed with another team. It’s a risky thing; I can’t remember the last time that happened. I’m sure it has, but would it happen?

I would say it won’t, because when you look at it now with these other teams trying to clear so much space, there’s more cap space out there than there are star players. There’s going to be a lot of money that goes unspent or it’s going to be spent badly because there’s nobody to sign. It’s one of those things you think about, it’s like a loophole kind of deal. It’s like when they drafted Larry Bird the year before they signed him. I just don’t see that happening.

On Avery Bradley:

The Celtics got a better version of Eddie House. They got a guy who’s a terrific shooter; he’s got great range, but he’s a very good defender. The one thing he doesn’t do [is] he doesn’t drive the ball great. He’s a much better shooter than he is a driver. And is he a true point guard? They’re going to have to hope he can come off the bench and be the backup point guard they needed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Draft rumors: Hornets’ No. 11 pick available 06.24.10 at 11:04 am ET
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Yahoo! Sports reports that the Hornets are listening to offers for the No. 11 pick because they need money. The pick probably would come with the requirement that the acquiring team take on the salary of former Celtic James Posey or Julian Wright. This comes on the heels of rumors that star point guard Chris Paul could be traded if the right deal comes along.

Yahoo! also reports that the Kings have settled on Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins with the fifth pick.

The New York Daily NewsFrank Isola reports that the Knicks, without a first-round pick, are looking to find a way into the first round, with their sights set on Iowa State forward Craig Brackins, New Mexico small forward Darinngton Hobson or Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez.

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Report: Nets to take Favors at No. 3 at 10:29 am ET
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According to ESPN’s Andy Katz, the Nets plan to select Georgia Tech freshman power forward Derrick Favors over Syracuse small forward Wesley Johnson with the third pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft. The story indicated the Nets want to make sure they have a frontcourt presence and consider Favors a more tradeable asset.

The top two picks are expected to be Kentucky’s John Wall (Wizards) and Ohio State’s Evan Turner (76ers).

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Report: C’s offer Perkins for pick at 7:05 am ET
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According to a report at AOL FanHouse, the Celtics have offered center Kendrick Perkins and their No. 19 draft pick to teams with high lottery picks leading up to Thursday night’s NBA draft. Perkins, who has an expiring contract worth $4.4 million next season, is preparing for surgery after tearing his medial collateral ligament and partially tearing his posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Game 6 of the NBA finals vs. the Lakers.

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