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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
Celtics choice: Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown 05.20.16 at 2:10 pm ET
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As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick on Oklahoma scorer Buddy Hield or Cal forward Jaylen Brown

The case for Hield

Did you watch a second of college basketball this season? Hield was a monster, adding dribble penetration and increased range to his explosive offensive game. He averaged 25 points a game and shot .457 from 3-point territory. His shot chart is off the charts, with above-average production from everywhere on the floor except the left baseline. As a senior, he’s more polished than most of the teens and freshmen coming out this year. And he demonstrated an ability to hit big, clutch shots throughout his senior year, leading the Sooners to the Final Four, where they lost to Villanova, the eventual champs.

The case against Hield

The senior thing actually works against him among NBA types concerned that he’s already at or near his ceiling. There are also legitimate questions about his foot speed and ability to create his own shot at the next level. He’s also considered a subpar defender, though Brad Stevens could change that. The biggest knock on Hield is that he’s a finished product with a not of room to grow, and in the NBA everyone loves the ability to daydream about best-case scenario projections.

The case for Brown

Brown is in many ways the opposite of Hield: He’s a raw athlete with explosive leaping ability, but an unpolished offensive game. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder could excel in one of Stevens’ small-ball lineups as an undersized but athletic power forward who creates matchup problems on both ends while defending multiple positions. He’s a tremendous finisher on the break and at the rim, and a good rebounder for his size. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a game as a freshman.

The case against Brown

His offense is limited. He shot just .294 on 3-pointers and .654 on free throws. He also disappeared down the stretch, shooting a combined 5-for-29 in his conference tournament and NCAA tourney games. Cal was a one-and-done against Hawaii in the Big Dance, and Brown finished his career with just four points and two rebounds while committing seven turnovers. He’s got a little bit of Jared Sullinger to his offensive game in that he’ll pound the ball and take contested jumpers.

The verdict

Brown may be more athletic and projectable, but Hield has the potential to be a legit NBA scorer with unlimited range. We’ll take polish over potential.

Should the Celtics take Buddy Hield or Jaylen Brown with the third pick in the draft?

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Read More: Buddy Hield, Celtics choice, Jaylen Brown, NBA Draft
Darrun Hilliard shows Celtics he has ‘right attitude’ in pre-draft workouts 06.11.15 at 8:55 am ET
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Darrun HIlliard was the star player leading Villanova to a 33-3 record and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA playoffs. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Darrun HIlliard was the star player leading Villanova to a 33-3 record and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA playoffs. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

WALTHAM — The NBA pre-draft workouts are probably the best medicine for Darrun Hilliard.

The star shooting guard from Villanova visited the Celtics Wednesday for his 10th NBA pre-draft workout. He still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way his season, and brilliant college career, ended in the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats finished the regular season and their conference tournament with a flourish never before seen in the rich history of Villanova basketball. They won 16 straight games, won the Big East tournament for the second time. They blew out Lafayette by 41 points in their first NCAA game. They were 33-2 and one of the very hottest teams in college basketball, ranked No. 2 in AP behind only undefeated Kentucky.

Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for Hilliard and the No. 1 seeded Wildcats to make a deep run. Then it all came to a crashing halt against North Carolina State, losing in stunning fashion, 71-68. The dreams of a national title or even a run to the Final Four ended before the Sweet 16.

“It’s kind of sucks that loss overshadowed what we did in the regular season, going 33-3 is a pretty good record for anybody,” Hilliard told WEEI.com Wednesday. “It was a great run. Unfortunately, we lost but it was a great run. We got better every year we were there. I will miss playing with those guys forever. It was a great run and I definitely enjoyed it.”

“When we first lost, I thought about it every day, every single day, every single second. I put a lot on myself. I should’ve had 30 points. But that’s how it went. It just wasn’t our night that night. N.C. State was the better team that night. It happens in the game of basketball.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Darrun Hilliard, Jay Wright, Kyle Lowry
Brad Stevens details exactly what Celtics get out of pre-draft workouts 06.03.15 at 9:15 am ET
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Brad Stevens is in a good place right now.

The Celtics coach is coming off a season in which his team surprised everyone by making the playoffs, winning 15 of their final 21 games to make the postseason for the first time in the Stevens era.

Now, Danny Ainge and son Austin are bringing in players who could serve as reinforcements to a roster that was overhauled midway through the season, and it’s Stevens’ job to identify players they might want to scoop up with any of their four picks they have in the upcoming draft.

“There have been some guys that been through that I think could help, but there are also some guys that have been through that are pretty impressive [who play positions where] I think we have pretty good depth,” Stevens said. “So then it becomes a decision of do you draft a young guy and develop him at a position where you already feel pretty strong, or do you try to fill positional needs? Luckily that’s above me and I just run the workouts.”

That is somewhat unusual for an NBA head coach, as assistants are usually delegated to such tasks. But with Stevens, he prefers to be hands on and have some input into what he might be working with next year.

“I really like it,” Stevens said. “You get a chance to really interact with guys, meet them face to face, spend time with them, watch them go through tough things, watch them go through good things, and respond to both. It’s good. These guys [front office] have said it many times, and I totally agree with it: it’s not the end-all, be-all. These guys have watched these guys play for years in games, this year, so for me you can maybe go and watch film on some of these guys, and then the workout validates what you saw. Or maybe it doesn’t. So it is fun to have them in here.”

Tuesday was a day to focus on point guards, as the Celtics brought in five, including Boston College product Olivier Hanlan.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, NBA, NBA Draft
Wyc Grousbeck: Drafting Marcus Smart doesn’t have ‘any impact’ on Rajon Rondo 06.26.14 at 11:12 pm ET
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It was the first question that came to the mind of most Celtics fans when the team selected Marcus Smart with its first first-round pick Thursday night: What does this mean for Rajon Rondo?

Well, according to owner Wyc Grousbeck, the answer is not much at all. The reason for Grousbeck’s public stance is Brad Stevens, who proved through a 25-win season that he could handle most of what Rondo could throw at any first-year coach.

“It’s interesting, that wasn’t a topic of conversation tonight,” Grousbeck said. “We have confidence in Brad that he can manage a roster but we also had confidence that of the top six we were going to take the best available as opposed to trying to slot in. That’s a strategy when you’re rebuilding a team, you take the best available athlete and then you let it all work out. We’ve got an All-Star point guard, so that’s not a question here.”

“I don’t think this has any impact on Rajon at all.”

Grousbeck acknowledged he hadn’t spoken with his star point guard before the selection was made.

Earlier this offseason, Grousbeck hinted at possible “fireworks” this summer if Danny Ainge found a trade partner.

“I always said fireworks were a possibility,” he said. “It takes two to tango around here. There just hasn’t been that much movement tonight. Typically on draft day, we make two trades if not three. That’s just the way we roll, ‘Trader Danny,’ and it’s had great effect for us. We like to be aggressive about rebuilding this team. We like to become contenders again as quickly as possible. So, we’ll keep working the phones, but it takes two partners to make a trade.”

So the Celtics did what Ainge predicted they would at the beginning of the night — hold onto their selections at 6 and 17 overall, taking Smart and Kentucky wing James Young.

“We knew there were six or seven kids that we wanted,” Grousbeck said. “So, the idea of moving to 8 or 10, moving slightly higher in the draft really wasn’t of interest. Maybe there’s a cliff in the draft. We wanted to stay at 6 or move up. We wanted to make other trades in recent days. We’d been on the phone quite a bit with other teams about other ideas. Nothing ever really seemed close to fruition, no matter how hard we tried. I remember trading for Kevin Garnett in ’07 and I got a call from Minnesota on July 30 or 31st, [so] the trade season is not over yet.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA Draft, Rajon Rondo
Wyc Grousbeck thinks of Red Auerbach in drafting Marcus Smart: ‘He’s an instigator [and] a bull’ at 9:23 pm ET
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Apparently Red Auerbach paid very close attention to the Big Bad Bruins.

When the Celtics chose Oklahoma State fireplug point guard Marcus Smart with the sixth pick overall Thursday night, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck thought back to something Auerbach told him when he bought the team.

“We like the fact that he’s an instigator,” Grousbeck said. “Back to Red, as Red told me personally right when I came in, ‘You need instigators, not retaliators.’ This kid is energetic. He’s a bull. He is a force, and when I met him, he filled the doorway. He’s just got that physique and that drive and that attitude that we really like around the Celtics.”

Grousbeck said Smart has been on the radar of the Celtics for some time, including three sessions in front of team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

“Our war room is very happy with the pick,” Grousbeck said. “My job is to be part of that and be supportive. Our basketball guys are very excited and have been focusing on Marcus for several weeks. [They] really like the top six or seven kids in the draft quite a bit but really thought he’s pretty exceptional in a couple of ways and really looking forward to having him in green.

“He’s been on our list for a month as we started setting up the draft workouts. He came back here twice and Danny saw him again in a third workout elsewhere. He’s seen him personally three times in the last two or three weeks. We really think there’s a lot of quality in the top of the draft here and think that it’s not always clear how to differentiate among the quality. I’m repeating things as opposed to giving you my own personal evaluation. That’s not my role with this team. But we think this kid really has some special attributes.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA Draft, Red Auerbach
NBA draft roundup: Celtics, 76ers, Lakers rumored landing spots for Joel Embiid; Kings likely keeping No. 8 pick at 2:57 pm ET
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Foot and back injuries have caused Kansas center Joel Embiid — once expected to be the first overall selection in Thursday’€™s NBA draft — to slide down the boards.

Embiid’€™s fall has opened up the possibility of the Celtics getting the opportunity to draft the promising big man, something that Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted could be a possibility.

Embiid, a 7-foot center from Cameroon, averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in his only season with the Jayhawks, despite only playing organized basketball since 2011.

— It appears that the rumored deal between the Celtics and Kings, which would include point guard Rajon Rondo and Sacramento’€™s eighth overall pick as the two main components, may not come to fruition.

Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears tweeted that the Kings seem to be content to keep their pick.

The Kings have been at the forefront of trade rumors recently, including a deal to acquire Pistons forward Josh Smith, adding him to a frontcourt that already includes DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.

— With the draft fast approaching, it seems that the 76ers are going all in in an effort to acquire the first overall pick from the Cavaliers and draft Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins.

Tom Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News tweeted that the 76ers are doing everything they can to pry the top pick from Cleveland.

Philadelphia certainly has many trading chips at its disposal, including the third and 10th overall picks and a host of promising players such as Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

— The Celtics aren’t the only Atlantic Division team reportedly looking to make a few draft-day deals. The Raptors are trying to acquire the Grizzlies‘€™ 22nd overall pick, according to ESPN.

The framework of the deal would be Toronto sending veteran swingman John Salmons and the 37th overall pick to Memphis in exchange for Tayshaun Prince and the 22nd pick.

The move benefits the Rapotors because it would put them in position to select Syracuse guard (and Ontario native) Tyler Ennis.

By making the trade, the Grizzlies would be able to take Prince’€™s $7.7 million salary cap hit off their books for next season.

Read More: Celtics, Joel Embiid, Kings, NBA Draft
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