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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Georgia Tech G Iman Shumpert 06.22.11 at 9:50 am ET
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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).

Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert was unable to demonstrate his full potential with a struggling Georgia Tech team last season. (AP)

Iman Shumpert

Position: Guard

School: Georgia Tech

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 212 pounds

Stats: 17.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg 3.5 apg, 2.7 spg

What he brings: Shumpert used his length and athleticism to become one of the ACC’s premier defenders last year, and his quickness makes him very effective in transition and on the dribble-drive. The point guard was more of a facilitator his first two years but started attacking the basket more as a junior. Last year, he led a weak Yellow Jackets squad in most offensive categories, but consistent double-teams forced him into a team-high 72 turnovers. Without much of a supporting cast, Shumpert might not have been able to show his full offensive potential last year. If he can complement his athletic frame with improved shooting and decision-making, the Oak Park, Ill., product could become an asset on both ends of the floor.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “He was in great shape, he was competitive, he worked out well [at last month's NBA draft combine]. He can be a Royal Ivey-type* big guard to come off the bench, be a distributor, that last-option scorer.” — NBA scouting director Ryan Blake

*In seven NBA seasons, Ivey has scored 3.5 points per game and averaged 12.7 minutes.

Notes: Shumpert’s 36.5-inch standing vertical leap at the NBA draft combine was the highest since Nick Young hit 39.5 inches in 2007. The 20-year-old played with the Jazz’ Derrick Favors in his first two years at Georgia Tech but tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he didn’t use Favors as much as he should have. Shumpert left his mark on Georgia Tech with a 22-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist, seven-steal performance against Virginia Tech last January, while holding the Hokies’ top scorer, Malcolm Delaney, to just eight points and eight turnovers.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Washington G Isaiah Thomas at 7:04 am ET
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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).

Washington guard Isaiah Thomas has drawn comparisons to former Celtic Nate Robinson. (AP)

Isaiah Thomas

Position: Guard

School: Washington

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 185 pounds

Stats: 16.8 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.5 rpg

What he brings: His lack of size (5-9) has drawn comparisons to former Huskies guard and current NBA player Nate Robinson. Thomas is most known for his ball handling. He is very good with the ball, using both hands, his natural left and his right. He is a pretty good shooter from the outside and has a nice arc on his shot. His height prevents him from having a major impact on the boards, but he does have quick reactions and is quick to loose balls. He is a very good on-ball defender as well, with quick feet.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round (or second)

What they’re saying: “He’s always been doubted because of his size, and this will be the ultimate experience for him to go out and obtain his goal.” — Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, on Thomas’ decision to leave school a year early

Notes: The Seattle Times ran a feature story on Thomas and his legacy at Washington. He leaves the school as the third all-time leading scorer in the program’s history. He was named after NBA legend Isiah Thomas, but his mother wanted his named spelled Isaiah because she wanted a biblical name. Thomas spent two years prepping at South Kent School in Connecticut.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan G Darius Morris 06.20.11 at 11:03 am ET
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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).

Darius Morris has good size for a point guard, although he needs to cut down on his turnovers to be successful in the NBA. (AP)

Darius Morris

Position: Guard

School: Michigan

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 190 pounds

Stats: 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.7 rpg

What he brings: Morris was one of the nation’s most improved players last season, leading a young team to within three points of knocking off top-seeded Duke in the third round of the NCAA tournament. The long, athletic point guard averaged over 10 points more than he did his freshman year and nearly tripled his assist total. Scouts have compared Morris to Tyreke Evans because of his ability to overpower defenders and get to the rim. Others say he has the potential to become a more athletic Andre Miller, though doubts have arisen over his quickness and whether or not he’ll be able to stay in front of NBA guards. Morris also had 103 turnovers last year, which led the Wolverines by far.

Like fellow prospect Iman Shumpert, Morris benefits from his size at the point guard position. Unlike Shumpert, however, Morris is more of a pure point guard with a pass-first, playmaking mentality. His jump shot and range could use some work, but if Morris’ decision-making improves as much as it did last year, the Los Angeles native could step into a backup role as early as next season.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “He can go into a crowd and see over everybody, and a lot of guards can’t do that. He’s seeing corner-to-corner when he comes up the floor, and he’s got great quickness and handle.” — Michigan coach John Beilein

Notes: Morris’ decision to declare for the NBA draft after his sophomore season may have been influenced by the “Manny Harris example.” Harris, a former Michigan guard, stayed for his junior year in 2010 and watched his draft stock plummet as he injured his hamstring and gave scouts another season to critique his skill set. As a sophomore last season, Morris recorded the third triple-double in program history with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in a win against Iowa on Jan. 31. The game is featured in the video below.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Washington F Justin Holiday 06.19.11 at 9:33 pm ET
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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).

Justin Holiday, brother of 76ers guard Jrue Holiday, was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year this past season. (AP)

Justin Holiday

Position: Forward

School: Washington

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 185 pounds

Stats: 10.5 ppg, 2.1 apg, 5.2 rpg

What he brings: The long and athletic swingman is known mostly for his defense, and he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. His toughness and his aggressiveness also help him on the boards. Holiday has improved a great deal over his college career on the offensive end of the court, as he has developed a good outside shot, especially for a guy his size. He also is a pretty good passer for a forward.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round (or second)

What they’re saying: “He can play the 3 or the 4 and tends to gives people fits with his athleticism. Nothing has changed since I had him. I think his versatility is what separates him from the others and makes him attractive to minds in the NBA.” — Terry Kelly, Holiday’s high school coach

Notes: Holiday was nicknamed “The Fireman” by his teammates for his defensive intensity and rebounding. His brother, Jrue Holiday, starts at point guard for the 76ers.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UCLA G Malcolm Lee 06.17.11 at 5:14 pm ET
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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).

Malcolm Lee looks to become the latest UCLA guard to have success in the NBA. (AP)

Malcolm Lee

Position: Guard

School: UCLA

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 200 pounds

Stats: 13.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.0 apg

What he brings: Although his offensive numbers won’t blow anyone away, Lee follows an impressive line of UCLA guards who have thrived in the NBA, including Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday and Russell Westbrook. With his length and build, Lee passes the “eye test” as a combo guard. He used his lateral quickness to become one of the top defenders in the Pac-10. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native could develop into an effective slasher, as he’s shown an ability to finish strong at the rim with both hands. Lee also demonstrated improvement in the balance and rhythm of his jump shot in recent NBA draft workouts, though he still lacks consistency in that department.

On the negative side, scouts have questioned Lee’s decision-making ability, which certainly is suspect with a career 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. At UCLA, he often committed the cardinal sin of leaving his feet to make passes, which led to giveaways. Without much of a playmaking mentality, Lee could have to make his living off the ball, but he might not have enough size to match up with the NBA’s premier 2 guards.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “He can go into an NBA game right now and guard a 1 or a 2 as well as anyone coming out of college. I can’t say enough great things. I think [Lee] will play in the NBA.” — UCLA coach Ben Howland

Notes: Despite his praise for Lee, Howland told Sporting News that Lee should have stayed for his senior year. According to The Los Angeles Times, Howland thought the potential NBA lockout would affect Lee’s decision to enter the draft, especially because he was not projected to be a top 15 pick.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Tennessee G/F Scotty Hopson at 3:52 pm ET
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Tennessee's Scotty Hopson was named to the All-SEC first team this past season but needs to be more consistent at the next level. (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).

Scotty Hopson

Position: Guard/forward

School: Tennessee

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 205 pounds

Stats: 17.0 ppg, 1.3 apg, 3.3 rpg, .376 3-pt%

What he brings: Hopson, who enters the draft following his junior year at Tennessee, has the perfect size and length to be a solid wingman at the next level, and the scoring potential is certainly there as well. He was named to the All-SEC team by conference coaches after finishing fifth in the conference with 17.0 points per game. He is considered to be extremely athletic and finally showed a better ability to get to the charity stripe last season after he increased his free throws per game from 2.30 in 2009-10 to 4.84 a year later. He is also not considered to be extremely strong off the dribble.

That being said, his biggest knock is his inability to play consistently on a game-by-game — and sometimes even possession-by-possession basis — especially on the defensive end. There’s no better example of this than in early December, when he went from a 27-point game in a win over Pittsburgh to a seven-point performance against Oakland in a loss when he went 1-for-7 from the floor. Any NBA team, Celtics included, that takes Hopson in the draft will have to coax a more consistent effort out of him.

Where the Celtics could get him: Second round

What they’re saying: “That guy is not from the same planet as the rest of us.” — NBA general manager to Draft Express after Hopson gave an unflattering interview. (Decide for yourself by watching this interview.)

Notes: Hopson said that the postseason firing of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl “played a lot into my decision” and that new coach Cuonzo Martin tried to get him to stay. During that process of attempting to convince Hopson to stay, Martin told the press, “It’s always tough because you want to give these guys honest information, but you also understand that a part of their success is about ego, so it’s the way you go about saying what you’re saying without really saying it.”

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Ohio State G David Lighty at 7:50 am ET
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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).

David Lighty has been a leader for Ohio State the past four years. (AP)

David Lighty

Position: Guard

School: Ohio State

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 220 pounds

Stats: 12.1 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 spg, 42.9 3pt%

What he brings: Although he was somewhat overshadowed in the stat department by Buckeyes stars Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Jon Diebler, Lighty’s value stems from his NBA-ready defense and decision-making ability. The senior made very few mental mistakes last season and effectively led a young Ohio State squad with his experience and stability. NBA scouts have indicated they expect Lighty to bring the same kind of stability to the pros, and his combination of strong defense and steady 3-point shooting reminds some of Bruce Bowen.

On the other hand, past ACL and foot injuries have limited Lighty’s quickness, and he could struggle to make plays in transition. Lighty hasn’t shown the athleticism or ball-handling ability to make plays in one-on-one situations, and he likely would be a fourth or fifth scoring option on the floor. Still, he could end up being a Landry Fields-type second-round steal. That is, a hard-working, potential-packed player who understands his role and fits well into an NBA roster.

Where the Celtics could get him: Second round

What they’re saying: “I think they should put a statue in front of the Schottenstein Center of David Lighty, just what he’s meant to this program, not only on the court. I’ve always said this, David Lighty, he’s been here for five years and I don’t think he’s ever gotten close to the credit he deserves for the player he is, just the kid he is. You don’t do the things that he’s done during his career here.” — Ohio State coach Thad Matta

Notes: Lighty was recruited to Ohio State with Greg Oden, Daequan Cook and Mike Conley Jr. After the Buckeyes fell to Florida in the 2007 NCAA title game, Lighty stayed in school while the other three freshmen entered the NBA as first-round picks. The Spurs reportedly have interest in Lighty.

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