|An absolute mockery of a 2015 NBA mock draft v1.0||06.03.15 at 3:12 pm ET|
I’m not sure whether mock drafts got their name from the false premise that anyone could accurately mock what the front offices of all 30 NBA franchises will do come June 25 or the reality that everyone who projects to know such matters ultimately makes a mockery of themselves. It’s probably a hybrid of the two, but they sure are fun, so without further ado Green Street presents the first of four mock drafts leading up to the real thing in Chicago later this month.
Keep in mind Celtics president Danny Ainge owns two first-round picks in this year’s draft — his own No. 16 selection and the Clippers’ No. 28 pick he received in exchange for letting Doc Rivers out of his contract — and predicting whether The Wolf of Causeway Street will stand pat, trade up or swap out of the draft is like guessing which ridiculous name Ron Artest will use next. Impossible.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentucky freshman PF/C Karl Towns. Remarkably, the Timberwolves will feature the three most recent No. 1 overall picks next season. Unfortunately, one of them is Anthony Bennett. But with Andrew Wiggins and Towns — two tremendously gifted athletes — Minnesota moves on from the Kevin Love era rather quickly.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor. As much fun as it was to see the Lakers field a D-League lineup this past season, it would have been more enjoyable had they fallen out of the top five and been forced to send their pick to Philadelphia. Instead, they land Okafor, a 6-foot-11 offensive juggernaut who would’ve looked awful good in green.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Duke freshman small forward Justise Winslow. With Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric available to fill the 4 and 5 spots for the next decade, Winslow provides the Sixers with a dynamic wing scorer of the future as well. Well, until GM Sam Hinkie decides to trade them all away for future draft picks and cap space, at least.
|Olivier Hanlan has sights set on proving himself a ‘true point’ in NBA, maybe in Boston||at 10:32 am ET|
WALTHAM — Can Olivier Hanlan help the Celtics?
The point guard sensation broke onto the national scene with a 41-point outburst against Georgia Tech in the 2013 ACC tournament, setting a new conference tournament record for freshman scoring in the process. That summer Hanlan worked out at the Celtics’ training facility in Waltham, playing occasional pickup games with the likes of Jared Sullinger and Rajon Rondo.
Tuesday’s workout was like going back to the future for the 6-foot-4 guard, who led the ACC in scoring this past season at 19.5 PPG.
“It’s definitely fun being back here,” Hanlan said. “I’m kind of used to this place compared to other places.”
In three years at Boston College, Hanlan showed an explosive ability to get to the basket and score from everywhere on the court. It’s that kind of ability from the point guard position that could convince the Celtics to take a chance on the 22-year-old.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that acquiring a guard who can score and knock down the open jumper is high on their priority list heading into the June 25 draft in Brooklyn.
Hanlan not only has New England roots but a Canadian connection that could come in handy on the Celtics as he, like Kelly Olynyk were born in Canada. Hanlan transferred from his home in Quebec to the basketball powerhouse New Hampton School in New Hampton New Hampshire for his junior and senior years of high school.
He was recruited by Boston College and fell into a great situation for the last three years.
“I’ve built a lot of relationships [in Boston], so obviously it would be a dream come true,” Hanlan said. “But you can’t really be picky with these types of things.”
|Celtics to play preseason contest in Italy this October||at 9:49 am ET|
The Celtics will be going international to open their preseason this fall.
The NBA, in conjunction with Euroleague Basketball and RCS Sport, confirmed Wednesday that the Celtics will play a preseason game on Oct. 6 against Olimpia Milano in Milan, Italy, as part of NBA Global Games Europe 2015.
The 17-time NBA champion will play the three-time Euroleague champion and 26-time Italian League champion Olimpia Milano at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan.
“On behalf of the Celtics organization, we are proud to return to Milan for NBA Global Games 2015,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. “I have particularly fond memories of playing in Europe almost 30 years ago, and I am sure our current players will relish this unique opportunity.”
“It is an honor to represent the Celtics and the NBA in Milan,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “I know there are passionate NBA fans in Italy and we look forward to an electric atmosphere on game night.”
“We’ll play in Chicago and New York against Maccabi and then head home to Italy to play the Boston Celtics which will be an exciting week for us as a team,” Olimpia Milano president Flavio Portaluppi said. “We appreciate the opportunity to play such a spectacular opponent in front of our loyal fans.”
This will mark the Celtics’ seventh game in Europe and second contest in Milan, having previously played in 2012. Olimpia Milano features Alessandro Gentile, Samardo Samuels and MarShon Brooks, who was selected 25th overall in the 2011 NBA draft out of Providence. Brooks also was part of the blockbuster deal in July 2013 that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets.
Tickets can be purchased beginning June 8 at ticketone.it.
The Celtics also will play a regular-season game in Mexico City next season as part of NBA Global Games 2015, which will feature additional games around the world, including:
· China: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Charlotte Hornets in Shenzhen on Oct. 11 and Shanghai on Oct. 14
· Brazil: Orlando Magic vs. Flamengo in Rio De Janeiro on Oct. 17
· Mexico: Celtics vs. Sacramento Kings in Mexico City on Dec. 3 (regular season)
· Additional games and locations will be announced at a later date
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.”
|The Kosta Koufos question: Will Celtics pursue second-tier free agents?||05.19.15 at 11:25 am ET|
Kosta Koufos is exactly the type of player the Celtics need to target this summer.
Given their history of failed free-agent pursuits and the unlikelihood of landing a center of Marc Gasol’s caliber, the C’s are forced to pursue under-appreciated options, so the latest ESPN.com report that team president Danny Ainge already targeted Koufos in trade discussions this season makes complete sense.
After ranking in the middle of the pack this past season with a 102.1 defensive rating — a number that climbed to 110.2 points allowed per 100 possessions in their brief playoff stint — the Celtics are in desperate need of a rim protector, and Koufos was as good as any backup center in that regard. According to NBA.com/stats, the 7-foot, 265-pound former first-round pick held opponents to 46.9 percent shooting at the rim, putting him in good company with Defensive Player of the Year candidates Tim Duncan and Draymond Green at the same percentage.
Offensively, Koufos has proven a capable scorer around the basket, converting 56.2 percent of his shots inside of 8 feet. It might be too much to ask a 26-year-old to suddenly develop a mid-range jumper, but Tyler Zeller made significant strides from outside the paint under Celtics coach Brad Stevens this year.
Regardless, Koufos has averaged 12.7 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes since being drafted 23rd overall out of Ohio State in 2008, and those numbers have remained fairly consistent for all six years, including when he started 81 games for a Nuggets team that won 57 games in 2012-13.
|Danny Ainge: Celtics ‘in the game’ for big-name acquisitions||05.14.15 at 5:58 pm ET|
In a sit-down interview with Celtics.com, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was encouraged by the development of rookie guard Marcus Smart and his team’s depth during an impressive stretch run, but he also realizes the need for a roster upgrade.
Whether or not that upgrade will come in the form of a draft-day trade or a free-agent signing this summer remains to be seen, but at the very least the C’s are in position to set off the fireworks they’ve stocked away since trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
“We’ve tried to put ourselves in the game to have those options and to have some opportunities to make big moves, so I guess if there are big moves that we like, we do them; if there are big moves that we’re not in love with, then we hold off and we wait,” Ainge told Celtics.com. “Those are the challenging ones. Some of them are very easy to determine and some are very challenging and take a lot of investigation and thought and debate and discussion on our side, but I think that you can’t just determine that you’re going to wait or you’re going to do it. It all depends on those opportunities.
|Danny Ainge to offer Jae Crowder qualifying offer, adds: ‘We need to have a busy summer, and we will’||04.30.15 at 12:23 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics surprised a lot of people by finishing the season with a six-game winning streak, ending up with the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But the work to improve on that encouraging ending doesn’t stop with a four-game sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Far from it.
Now, according to the team’s president of basketball operations, the hard work really begins. How does he and his staff go about improving upon a 40-42 mark through the NBA draft and added space under the salary cap?
“I feel like we need to have a busy summer and we will have a busy summer,” Danny Ainge said Thursday. “Hopefully, we can get some things accomplished that we need to. I think we need to upgrade our talent level on our team and at the same time, I’m very excited about a lot of the individuals that we have.
“Actually, all of the individuals I thought played the best basketball of their careers in a lot of cases. So, I’m excited about the players that we have. At the same time, I feel like we’re not at the same level as a team like Cleveland, and we found that out.”
Ainge confirmed one of his moves already on Thursday when he announced he will extend a qualifying offer to Jae Crowder. By extending a qualifying offer to Crowder, the Celtics would make him a restricted free agent.
The key to the summer will likely be how Ainge and his staff handle the extra spending space afforded by the expansion of the NBA salary cap. The Celtics currently have $40.4 million committed to salaries for 2015-16. The current cap number of $63 million is expected to grow to about $66 million next season but could explode to $87 million in 2017. The reason: A brand new nine-year, $24 billion TV deal.
But while the Celtics will have more money to spend, so too will the other 29 teams, creating tremendous cap competition this summer.
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