|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Team’s biggest needs||06.23.14 at 10:28 am ET|
With Celtics fans focused on the fantasy of acquiring players like Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, it’s easy to forget the plentiful attractive options in the 2014 NBA draft. With two first-round selections and the versatility to move or add more picks, fans should still be excited about the chance of building through the draft.
That’s one reason I published my 2014 NBA Draft Guide as a means of putting all of my research into one convenient 115-page package for fans and readers to download. This article includes a more in-depth look at what’s included for each club in the “team needs” section of the book, but watch the video above to find out what else is included in the guide, which can be downloaded by clicking here.
The Celtics roster needs a lot of work this summer, but the three biggest draft needs are a rim protector, a sharpshooter and a go-to scorer. Below are five options for each need that could be addressed with either the No. 6 or 17 pick. Click on each player’s name to discover a more complete draft profile.
|Austin Ainge is sold on Shabazz Napier as an NBA point guard: ‘He’s going to make it’||06.17.14 at 1:05 am ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics may or may not get a chance to take Shabazz Napier in the June 26 NBA draft. But team personnel executive Austin Ainge made one thing clear his opinion Monday after Napier’s workout for the team: Napier will be playing somewhere in the NBA eventually.
“Shabazz is so clever and shifty,” Ainge said. “He is very hard to stay in front of because he really changes directions very well. He’s quick but he is even shiftier than he is quick. He’s very clever and he can make shots.
“Shabazz is not physically overwhelming, but he has toughness, intelligence and skill and that extra savvy, so he more than makes up for it. He’s going to make it is my guess. He’s a good player.”
Napier stands just 5-feet-11 and weighs 180 pounds, with a wingspan just over 6-feet-3 and a reach of 7-feet-9. But to Ainge and the Celtics, his ability to lead a winning program on the court has its own rewards in the eyes of basketball evaluators.
“It’s big. It’s big,” Ainge said. “We all can look at physical tools. But the league is full of guys that don’t fit most athletic, physical but still are successful. Shabazz certainly checks the box as to how well physically he can play.”
But those numbers certainly don’t count for everything, like winning two national championships at one of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the country — UConn — and staying at school and playing all four years.
“You can certainly see it,” Ainge said of Napier’s pure skill. “It’s obvious watching Shabazz. Then I think it’s measured in all the other stats. He gets assists, points in the paint and his teams win. All those things can be measured.
“In a college game you learn a lot. But in this, you learn different things. We’re putting him against NBA athletes in NBA positions. That’s probably the biggest advantage for us.”
|Shabazz Napier says he has ‘heart’ to lead an NBA team||06.16.14 at 3:55 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Before stepping on the court for a workout Monday morning at the Celtics training facility, Shabazz Napier wanted to make sure he took it all in.
So, the former University of Connecticut star point guard — born in Roxbury and schooled at Charlestown High — came in Sunday night and took some time before an informal shootaround to just be the fan of the Celtics he was growing up.
“I came in [Sunday] to shoot a little bit,” Napier said. “For about a good 5-10 minutes, I looked around at the banners. Just a warm feeling. [Watching] the Celtics growing up, being a Boston fan and you get those chills you every time you watch those films. It took me about five to 10 minutes to realize I was here.”
Monday, Napier was all business. He took part in an NBA pre-draft workout Monday morning for the Celtics. The two-time NCAA champion guard says he may not have all the physical tools like size and length but his heart makes him an NBA leader. Napier grew up in the Boston area before leaving for UConn but says he still cheers for Boston teams like the Celtics.
One thing he wanted to get across in his meeting with reporters was his confidence that he can do in the NBA what he did at UConn — lead a team to a championship.
“I don’t have the crazy wingspan,” said Napier, whose wingspan at the combine was measured at 6-foot-3.25 inches. “I just have the heart that a lot of guys with those attributes don’t have. You put me in front of anybody I’m going to compete. That’s the biggest thing that I have gotten since I was younger. I was always the littlest guy. Those are the things I can’t worry about. Just be myself. There are a lot of guys with those attributes that can’t lead a team like I can. There’s always a reason for something. I’m definitely happy I can lead a team.
“I’ve been to six [NBA] teams so far and basketball has taken me there. It’s been a blessing.”
Napier said that he plans to work out for at least two more teams, including the Rockets this week, before sitting back and watching where his name is called on June 26.
|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UConn PG Shabazz Napier||06.13.14 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: Point guard
Weight: 175 pounds
Key 2013-14 stats: 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists
Scouting report: Napier, a Roxbury native, ended his collegiate career in spectacular fashion by winning his second national championship with UConn. Yet he’s only projected as a late first-round pick because of his small stature and limited upside.
A 40.5 percent 3-point shooter, Napier was one of the most dynamic and clutch scorers in college basketball last season. He gets his shots off so quickly and can score with a hand in his face, which bodes well for his potential in the pros. He can attack closeouts and pull up from mid-range, and he’s a fantastic ball-handler who can get anywhere with the ball.
But everything boils down to two things with Napier: his size and passing skills. Even though Napier battles hard on defense, he’s small, so he’s limited and will get burned by larger guards in the pros. This hinders his ability to start, as teams may be able to exploit him.
And Napier’s not exactly the most skilled passer, with a relatively average 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. He misses a lot of open teammates because he’s so focused on scoring, but it’s difficult to tell if he’s just a product of his environment (he’s told to score) or he’s actually unable to properly read the play. If it’s the latter, there are concerns about a coach’s ability to trust him running an offense.
Despite that, there’s a chance that Napier is being underrated by the masses, since elite scoring comes at a premium in the NBA. He was an elite college scorer, and his shooting will certainly translate to the pros. It may not matter that he might not be able to pass at a high level, because his role will be to come off the bench and score.
How he fits: Danny Ainge has employed a sparkplug scorer off the bench virtually every year in his tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations, and Napier could fill that role quite well as a pro.
CelticsBlog: Gunslingers of the future
Boston Globe: UConn’s Shabazz Napier proud to be from Roxbury
Video: Here is a video of Napier’s senior year highlights.
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Final Four players to watch||04.05.14 at 10:07 pm ET|
We have reached a new low people! A home loss to Philly with Rondo active. Excellent. #celtics
‘ Julian Edlow (@julianedlow) April 5, 2014
That is my tweet following Friday night’s nine-point Celtics loss to the 76ers in a game in which Boston was favored by double digits. And after sleeping on it, I feel even more strongly that this was the C’s best loss of the season.
Now sitting alone in the fourth lottery position, Boston is coming off of a crushing blowout at the hands of the Wizards and an embarrassing home loss to Philly. Seriously, everyone who came off the Sixers bench I had to Google to find out who they were. This season is not worth trying to figure out anymore.
The only thing worth understanding? Nothing is more valuable than losing these final games. Boston could realistically finish with anywhere from the fourth-best to seventh-best lottery odds, it’s that tight. Look, it sucks to cheer for your team to lose, I get that, but it’s almost over. Next year the Celts are going to be on the rise whether Danny Ainge uses his draft picks or trades them. So if you truly bleed green, you can cheer for just a few more losses before we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But is anyone even paying attention? The Red Sox are kicking off their World Series defense, the Bruins are at the same point of the season as the Celtics, only as the top team in the East, and the Patriots are working out some of the top quarterbacks in May’s draft.
Honestly, there is nothing on the court worth watching right now when it comes to Celtics basketball. The highlight of the last couple of months came on Monday when Rajon Rondo was in the booth calling the first half of Celtics vs. Bulls. The next big date for the Celtics is May 20 — the draft lottery. So here is something short term and something long term for Celtics fans to pay attention to until the big date.
In the short term, well, fortunately, we have the Final Four. This is our last chance to watch college hoops until next season, at the price of many of the top prospects already being sent home. But Kentucky is an interesting team to watch simply because of Julius Randle. A lot can happen between now and June, but right now Randle is expected to be about the fifth pick in the draft — the Celtics are expected to hold about the fifth pick in the draft. See the connection there?