Here is Part One of my
Final 2016 Boston Celtics
1st Round Mock Draft.
SV=Standing Vert, MV=Max Vert + SR-Standing Reach = MVR Max Vert Reach.
Okay, first off, I'm not a homer. ButÖ I'm starting to buy the Durant to Boston nonsense. It is starting to make sense in my brain. Now maybe that says more about my brain than reality, but I never claimed to be normal. "Hearing that Number three pick overall is the one that they are really shopping," Blakely said. "Trying to be as aggressive as possible in trying to move that pick, because they want to get a difference-making, impact player right now. And they believe using that Number three pick, and maybe some other players and/or picks, might be the best way to [ensure] that happen." The question can only be answered by Durant.
But at some point a guy gets so much money that he has to go past "it's all about the money", and you has to start thinking about quality of life more. Durant just sign a sneaker contract that is worth more than Larry, Magic, McHale, and Parrish made in their NBA careers combine, and is one year away from signing a similar NBA contract. When you start talking about over half a Billion, if you don't think that happiness becomes more important than you are a fool. Durant doesn't strike me as a fool.
When you live on the road with your teammates and coaches over six months of the year, you better get along with your team. Plus, he is not known as a money grubber. He has already made over a 100-mill in salary, and likely more in endorsements. He already signed a second contract for 89-Mil, which was less than he should have gotten to help the team sign some players they needed to win. He wants to win more than he wants the money. At some point you have to stop grubbing for every penny, and start making choices that make you happy.
Maybe it is a pipe dream. "The guys that they want are the guys that everybody wants," Blakely said. "We're talking about Durant. We're talking about Jimmy Butler. Those type of players. And those guys are going to be at the top of their wish list until those guys say, 'we don't want to come to Boston.'" But I can't see how Durant isn't at least thinking about it. And there are significantly less obstacles in his path to Boston than people think.
Danny has been chasing Durant for years, and he knows it. Danny has always said he would have taken Durant over Oden. "I was in the draft room, and they would have taken Durant," Austin Ainge said. "I did have some inside information there." Ainge himself even said it in the weeks following the Draft that he would have taken Durant, before Oden showed his legs couldn't hold up.
Durant is an unrestricted free agent this year. He can go anywhere he wants. Just like LaBron was a couple years ago. The idea that it will cost him millions and millions of dollars to sign in Boston is wrong. He has to sign a one year deal this year, so he can get to the even bigger bonanza next year. So he can sign here, like LaBron did with Cleveland. Do a sign and trade with OK City to Boston on a three to five year deal with an out clause after this season so he can cash in on being a 10-year Vet in 2017. Then he can sign the biggest bonanza contract in NBA history next year with Boston, like LaBron will do with Cleveland next year as well. That fact he has to sign a one year deal negates OK City's lock on the Home Team Max Deal worth 234-Mil for 6-years.
I may be wrong, but he ain't signing the Home Team Max-Deal this year. He is signing an opt out deal that gives him some security if he gets hurt, but is really a pure one year deal. It might cost him a Mil or two to sign the opt out deal with the Celtics this year. But whoever signs him to that deal will have the right to offer him the Home Team Max-Deal next year. Now there are likely more complication than I know, which is why a sign and trade with OK City makes some sense. They get Pick Three (or nothing), and the NBA gets to still say they are protecting the small city teams.
But this is all Durant's decision. If he decides he wants Boston, he is not sacrificing a cent in the Home Team Max Contract that 10-Vets can get in 2017. If LaBron can do it in Cleveland than Durant can do it in Boston. LaBron's whole strategic return to Cleveland was to play in opt out deals until he was a 10-year vet in 2017. You only have to be a 10-year vet in 2017 and a free agent, to sign the Home Team Max Contract. You don't have to be on the Home Team for 10-years, one year will do.
Durant can sign an opt-out deal with the team that he thinks will make him the happiest, and it really isn't going to cost him squat. "Weíre a step away," Isaiah Thomas said. "Weíre a couple pieces away, I think, from being contenders in the Eastern Conference. We won 48 games this year with a team that people didnít think could do that. That says a lot about the direction weíre going in, and I know Danny and those guys in the front office are going to do whatever they can to make this team the best possible team it can be." The Celtics have a true team where everybody from front office to the players to the coaches seem to get along. Sure there are squabbles, but Danny has assembled one of the highest caliber character teams in the NBA.
Durant also has that 300-Mil contract with Nike. So loosing a percent or two off his Bonanza big deal, by signing the opt out deal with Boston, isn't going to keep him from his half-a-Bil. And I'm not sure he looses a point off the top if he signs the opt-out deal with Boston this year. Obviously the sign and trade is the easiest path, but I don't think that is even necessary. He can sign with Boston this year if he wants.
He is in such a unique position because of: the massive influx in revenue hitting the NBA next season, his being a free agent this year so he has to wait a year to sign the bonanza deal, the Home Team Max Deal shoved into the collective bargaining agreement to try and help small market teams, and his becoming a 10-year vet after next season. There isn't a limit on where he can sign, because his historic payday is next year not this year. It is all about the fit for him on team that he has to live on the road with for the next 10 years or so.
He even keeps saying that it is about being comfortable in his life, and not all about the money. "I want some time to really decompress and reflect on the season so I can move on with the summer and move on with this whole process," Durant said. "Like I said, the two most important things for me is being around great people and having fun playing basketball. Just being around great people, being in a great basketball environment, that's the two most important things for me. That's all I really care about." There is not a better basketball environment right now than in Boston.
You can take that as an indictment of his current team or not. But it has long been rumored that he doesn't like Westbrook. They clearly didn't get along with each other when they first arrived on the team. That has cooled over the past few years, and this year he was clearly working better with him on the court. But we also know that he hates his coach. I know, I saw Tom Jackson say it on ESPN, so it has to be true. Plus, Westbrook has already told people that he wants out of OK City. That he sees the bright lights and big city of La-La Land as his his new home. Bryant is not winning it all without Westbrook in OK City.
The Celtics are a team that is winning with chemistry and working together as a team without complaints. Durant just seems like a guy who would fit in with them and their team first philosophy. Plus, the Celtics are gearing up to go on a 15 to 20 year stretch of winning like the Patriots are currently in. They have a Playoff team, minus one big Superstar, that has three guaranteed Lottery picks coming over the next three years. So they will be getting massive influx of talent over the next 3 to 5 years as the young players like Bender develop and/or they trade the Lottery picks for an established player like Okafor or Butler. This is the lowest this team will finish over the next 15 to 20 years if Danny can get all the pieces to fit.
The Celtics don't have the third pick in the Draft because they suck. They have the third pick in the Draft because they made so many smart deals, and then every thing broke their way in Brooklyn. I don't think it was a swindle by Danny. He even said, "We didn't think the picks would be that good." The Nets just imploded in so many unforeseeable ways that it is scary to think that such a good team could just die like that. You could argue that once KG and Paul joined the team that they had the best starting five in the League. That team should have contended.
Now we all know this provocative quote, I listened to it on their podcast. "I have this on pretty good authority, the Celtics have sat with his agent and other representatives of Durant," Butch Sterns said on WEEI. "The Celtics do know, I donít know who it is, but they do know who he would prefer to be brought here in a LeBron-Chris Bosh-Dwyane Wade-like way. Because thatís how it works in the NBA. You need to know who the guy or guys that that guy wants, which would be a factor." So if the Celtics make a wacky trade for someone like Cousins, or a wackier free agent signing like Harrison Barnes, don't be surprised if they end up with Durant.
As Celtics fans we have to remember that we are in such a bright and brilliantly unique situation that smart players can see it. We could win the Championship next season, and we could still have the number one pick in the Draft as well. And/or we could win it all in two years, and still have the Number One pick in the Draft again. When have you ever been able to say that about a team. And next years Draft is a much better Draft than this years. Any star who comes here will be able to continue to win past his prime, as next years Lottery pick and the Lottery pick from the year after that develops into Playoff Killers. It is very easy to see the Celtics having a 20 year Playoff run like the Patriots and Spurs are still in the midst of having.
Durant is a smart enough player to see a Playoff team with three bright shining Lottery tickets that could produce a Warriors like depth chart over the next twenty years. Plus, what if they pick up three or four talented Euros this year and stash them overseas for two or three or four years, and have a sudden wave of impact Euros to help win another Championship in four years. They are a Playoff team already. Just adding Durant this year can get the Celtics to the Finals. You can't say that out West. They would just have to beat Cleveland, not the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers, etc.
Plus, the Celtics were the one team that seemed to be able to out warrior Golden State. There is a clear path to a Championship with the Celtics, soon and for a lot of years. They just have to beat Cleveland in the East Finals, and then Golden State in the true finals. Not an easy path. But if the Celtics, with Durant, played the Warriors in the finals they could beat them. I know it sounds wacky, but after Danny pulled off the miraculous KG trade, anything is possible.
You just gotta be a ten year vet who is also a free agent to get 35% of the Cap. So why not do that in Boston? Signing with the Celtics this offseason does not hurt his pursuit of a quarter-Bil payday, because that is his next contract, not the one he will sign this offseason. It is all up to what makes Durant happy, "the two most important things for me is being around great people and having fun playing basketball." If Ainge, Stevens, Thomas, Bradley, and the Boston lifestyle makes him happy then he can sign here without recourse.
If he wants his buddy Cousins, who he made friends with playing for USA Basketball, Danny has the trade pieces to make it possible. If he wants Horford or Barnes, we have the Cap space. If he wants Butler we have the Veterans the Bulls are looking for. If he wants Okafor, we have the 3rd pick in the Draft that Philly can use to grab Dunn. The Celtics have all the chips to make Durant happy and a Champion. If he really wants to be a Champion? Than right now, his best chance is to come to the most successful Franchise in the History of the NBA and fight for Number Eighteen.
1. 76ers- Ben Simmons- Point Forward, 6-10, 240, LSU, FR,
19.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 4.8 APG, Shot 56.1% from the floor, 2 SPG,
The Team: The Philadelphia 76ers are taking Ben Simmons and laughing all the way to the bank, period. There's no intrigue. There's is no drama. There's no mystery. There's no decision to be made. That's why they are so desperately trying to trade Okafor or Noel. Simmons is the best player in this Draft who is the superstar in waiting. But like Magic, he will do it with passing, hitting his teammates in position to score, and making them better. But like LaBron, he can do it with scoring and driving to the hole, rebounding, and being the most physically dominate athlete on the floor. And like Leonard, he can also do it on defense, and might need to build his 3-point shot into a weapon, though I'm not sure that's really true. He does have a nasty jumper from 16-20.
Philly's head coach has known Ben Simmons literally his whole life. "Each of the teams in Australia were allowed to have two American imports," Brown said. "And one of the American imports we had was a player named David Simmons, from Harlem, New York, who is Ben Simmons' father. The cheerleader, you can't make this stuff up, the cheerleader that was the head cheerleader of that team ended up marrying David Simmons. Our import, who I coached for five years with Lindsay Gaze, and had Ben Simmons, their son." David Simmons played for the current Philly Head Coach Brett Brown.
Brown and Big-Daddy Simmons have been friends since they knew Ben's Mom as a cheerleader. "The Ben Simmons connection, with his family and myself is a good story," Brown said. "I was with David and Julie, his wife, in Orlando. They visited me when we played an NBA game two years ago. I saw Ben Simmons three years ago when I was coaching the Australian Olympic team. And you know, step by step. You have sporadic contact, but very serious contact many years ago. And incredibly coincidental that we find ourselves in this situation that we're in now. You know what's funny is the rules don't permit me to stay in contact with the family [the past year, once he became Draft eligible], the NBA rules." So he knows more about the kind of person Ben really is.
one weakness is that he is a 19-year old kid who can't shoot the
Three. And we all know that if you can't shoot the Three than you
can't play basketball. Can you imagine if Simons shot 17.3% from
Three as a rookie, his career would be over. "I don't look at Ben Simmons as just a pure-four," 76ers GM Colangelo said. "I look at him as a ball-handling four. I look at him as a guy who is going to distribute the basketball and initiate the offense. I think there are a number of arguments that can be constructed with
him. He sets teammates up for scoring opportunities. He's really good on the grab-and-go.
He grabs rebounds and runs the break, runs the transition and distributes the basketball. He drives and kicks. He finds the basketball. We just have to put adequate shooters around him."
Oh, I guess there are other actual aspects to basketball than
shooting. Who knew?
So how in the hell does Philly pass on the best player in the Draft, after they have the ultimate inside guy who knows Ben more than anyone in the NBA? He coached his Dad, and you know he was coaching him and giving him pointers on the court when they got together. Even with the HC being friends with his Dad and all the inside knowledge that garners, could someone explain to me how you pass on a guy with that kind of potential.
The Player: From Magic To LaBron: Ben Simmons.
Simmons is a freak. He is one of the hardest working players in the world. But just because he does it with a stone cold face, that somehow means he doesn't play hard. That is just such a dumb thing to say that it hurts my balls. It shows that you never watched him play a game. Every single guy you hear who says they are concerned about his effort never watched him play. He doesn't always look like he is going all out all the time. But then you look up and he has 20 point, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and a block.
What you want is a stone cold killer who keeps his emotions off his face. The Celtics need that more than anything. That's why I want Danny to miraculously turn the 3rd pick in the Draft into Paul George. Simmons instincts puts him in position on the floor better than anyone I've ever seen. He moves less than anyone I've ever seen, who still ends up in perfect position when a play needs to be made. And he is a smooth athlete running, who has an elite burst forward and to the ball.
He led his team in scoring and assists. That is impossible to do without working hard. But what makes him special is that he also led his team in rebounding (a hustle stat) and averaged about a block a game (a hustle stat), and two steals a game (another hustle stat). You cannot lead your team in scoring, passing, and rebounds, and not be the hardest working player on your team. Never mind steals as well. That is simply incredible. When have any of you haters ever heard of a player leading his team in those four stats. It's one thing to lead a team in rebounding and steals, or scoring and assists, but when was the last time you heard of a guy who lead a team in all four. It doesn't mean it hasn't happened, but I have never head of a guy leading his team in: PPG, APG, RPG, and SPG.
His problem is that he is so hard to quantify. He could shoot 17.3% from Three as a rookie, but his driving and kicking could make the Sixers a better 3-point shooting team (Noooooo! That would be horrible). We have never seen a guy do things like he did at LSU. He passes obsessively in the 1st half and often should have ten assists by halftime. Then he shoots and scores more in the 2nd half. He can look like he is gliding sometimes, but then you notice he getting every rebound, playing defense, blocking shots, setting up teammates all over the floor, and scoring. There is a difference between being a smooth athlete and not playing hard.
While Simons is not the 3-point shooter that Ingram is, he is a much more versatile scorer. You can say that Ingram is a better shooter, but you cannot say that he is a better scorer or more versatile offensive player: Simmons was the consensus National Freshman of the Year and was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in what has been a phenomenal freshman campaign Ö He is the first LSU freshman to win the conference Freshman of the Year award since 2006 when Tyrus Thomas was honored Ö Averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, which ranks in the top five in the SEC in each category ... He may become the first SEC player to finish the season in the top five in all three categories ... At the end of the regular season, Simmons was ranked fourth in points (19.6), first in rebounds (11.9), third in field goal percentage ( 206-367, 56.1 percent), fifth in assists per game (5.0) and second in steals per game (2.0) in the SEC ... His 11.8 rebounds per game led all Division I freshmen Ö One of just two freshmen in the country to average double-figure rebounds Ö Led all major conference players with 23 double-doubles on the year and ranked fifth nationally ... Became the fourth freshman in the past 20 years with 40 points and 10 rebounds in a game after his performance against North Florida on Dec. 2, 2015, where he also became the first major college player to have a game of 40 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in a game in the last 20 years ... The first LSU player since Shaquille OíNeal to score at least 43 points in a game Ö One of six freshmen in LSU history to score 30 points in a game and joins Chris Jackson (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) and fellow freshman Antonio Blakeney as the only players to do it multiple times as he scored 36 at Vanderbilt on Jan. 2, 2016, and had 43 versus UNF on Dec. 2, 2015 Ö Posted six of the SECís eight 20-10-5 games this season Ö Crossed the 600-point mark at Kentucky on March 5, 2016Ö He became the sixth first-year LSU player to score 500 points in a season after a late free throw against Alabama on Jan. 17, 2016 Ö Became the fourth-fastest to pass 500 points in his first year of playing with the Tigers and was the second freshman to do so behind Jackson Ö Simmons had 18 20-point games this season, which was third in the SEC Ö Had an active streak of 28 games in double figure scoring Ö Had a five game streak of 20 points from Feb. 17 to March 1 Ö Had a double-double and 10 or more rebounds in seven straight contests from Nov. 19-Dec. 16 ... Had a double-double in the last four games to close out the regular season before the conference tournament Ö Became the first SEC freshman to record 20 points and 15 rebounds since Julius Randle of Kentucky in the 2013-14 season after posting 23 points and 16 rebounds against South Alabama.
The Reason: Another misnomer is that Philly can't take another Big. They need a guard. They need a shooter. Well, when you have a player like Simmons who is 6-9 (and magically grown into 6-10 at Draft time), you can't just call him a big man and be done. He is a point forward, and a Wing who can block shots and rebound. Teaching a young guy coming into the NBA to shot better is protocol, not some magical enhancement that has never been done.
He is so hard to categorize, because he does so many things well "I love Ben Simmons, but youíre not getting him," Goodman told WEEI. "Youíre not getting the No. 1 pick away from Philly. Ben Simmons has superstar potential. I donít know if heís going to be a superstar, I donít know if heís going to be one of the top five or so players in the league, but heís just so unique in a sense that what he can do at 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10 athletically, seeing the floor [and scoring, rebounding, passing, and blocking shots]. Iíve seen this kid play for three or four years. He doesnít shoot the ball at all yet, which is interesting because most kids, if you say, ĎHey, you canít shoot, you canít shoot, you canít shoot,í they try to show you they can shoot, right? This kid never tried that this year. All he did, and he told me this, he said, ĎWell, itís a higher-percentage shot for me if Iím around the basket than if I take perimeter shots.í So we donít know if he can shoot or not. Iíve talked to several NBA guys, they say his shot is not broke, that they can fix it, or with repetition heíll get better. Iím not comparing him to LeBron (I am). Heís not going to be LeBron. But at 6-foot-10 heís got the court vision of LeBron. Heís not the defender of LeBron. Ben Simmons, if you can get to No. 1, I would package all three of these picks and a player to get to No. 1 to get Ben Simmons." Simmons is a much better passer than LaBron was coming into the NBA.
And as I said earlier, LaBron shot 29% from Three as a rookie, and Magic shot 22.6% as a 19-year old rookie. We have no idea how good a 3-point shooter he will be. But it is standard operating procedure that rookies improve their jumpers exponentially through repetition and good coaching in the NBA. I find it hard to believe that he won't be able to shot close to 40% by the time he is a five year veteran. Also, just for clarification, Michael Jordan was one of the worst 3-point shooters who ever entered the NBA. He shot 17.3% from Three as a rookie. I think Simmons might be able to match that.
He can be the primary ball handler that the offense runs through in the 4th quarter. "A ball handling four who actually would be in a position to initiate the offense," Colangelo said. "Very versatile. Plays multiple positions. He could actually play some three, play some four and even some small five in some situations the way the league is playing right now. But, again, the notion that heís a ball-handling four puts him in a unique position with our team, to be a distributor." He is one of the top ball distributors in this Draft.
2. LA- Brandon Ingram- Duke, 18 years old, 6-9, 190,
17.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2 APG and 1.4 blocks in 34.6 minutes a game.
The Team: Okay, so I was just trying to find a way to make the Celtics pick more valuable. But my reasons for Bender to LA were sound. Plus, I still think Bender fits there needs better. But it is what it is. And the propaganda machine has started already. "Ingram is the player the Lakers would have targeted at No. 1 had they won the lottery, sources told The Vertical," Jonathan Givony said. ?He is a perfect fit for their roster and should generate a great deal of excitement about the future." Now I like Givony, but that is some serious BS. They'd jump all over Simmons if they magically got the 1st pick. Simmons is so good that I didn't bother to make a Tape of him, because if you can't see it in him than I don't care.
But Ingram is not a slouch. He is the second best player in this Draft. "It went great,Ē Ingram said about his workout with LA. ďItís something Iíve been working toward for a long time now, so I just worked out and tried to do some of the things that Iíve been doing in my regular workouts here." And LA needs a small forward. "Ingram will be a small forward in our league and the guys who play that position are exceptional athletes," a scout said. "They are strong, quick and physical. So when I look at his body type, Iím not sure if he can gain enough weight that heíll need to play at this level. That would be a concern for me." Not the brightest scout. Gaining weight is a natural function of the human body after their teenage years. He cannot help but to gain weight whether he likes it or not.
Getting a small forward who can pass, shoot, and be a stretch Four when they go small ball is more of a must now a days. That is why every team seems to want to trade for Jae Crowder. "The game has changed over time," Ingram said. "Guys are a lot stronger and bigger. You have to bring that to the game. You have to be able to shoot, get to the basket and defend. I think Iím positionless. I think you could put me at any position and Iíll thrive. Just put me at any position, let me stretch the floor and be able to defend those guys at the same time." He covered power forwards at Duke every game.
The Player: Brandon Ingram: Still Growing Strong.
The Reason: Kobe likes him. "I think he plays with a lot of poise," Kobe said. "Extremely long, and he knows how to use it. I was very impressed." Good enough for me.
3. Celtics- Dragan Bender- Croatia, PF/C 7-1-9, 215, 3-P% 36.9, FG% 46.6
.75 Assists, .61 SPG, 5.5 PPG, .89 BPG, 3 RPG, 14.5 Min,
The Team: I have no problem with the Celtics sitting here and taking Bender. However, the more I think about it the more I like the trade for Okafor (or Durant of course). "I did a lot of study over the summer, going back to those Spurs days with Duncan and Robinson," Philly HC Brett Brown said. "We've studied a lot of people with different teams, like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. There are teams recently that play big-big ball. I still think itís going to be a tremendous challenge." They have to get rid of Okafor, and are telling everyone who will listen that they know it.
I was comparing him to Duncan last year. "Probably the most excited I got about [Jalil] was when I talked to [Coach K] after we drafted him," Brown said. "I had done my homework with people outside of Coach K and the big thing was everyone said he was a terrific human being. When I had him in the office with his father after we drafted him, I saw that he was wired right and he thinks well. Heís a great person. And then you see what he can do on the basketball court, and I believe Coach K has gone on record saying and the scouts all brought it up when we drafted him, he is the best low-post player in the history of Duke basketball." Then he went from one of the best organizations in college basketball to the worst run team in professional sports. That culture shock had to effect him adversely.
The only real caveat is that he had some leg issues last season, and the Celtics have to damn well be sure his legs are okay. "I'm assuming everybody saw the hit [with Canaan] on his shin. It was significant. It's on the same leg, so the swelling may or may not have something to do with the knee. I know we put him on a treadmill, and there was something funny," Brown said and then continued "One isn't related to the other, we don't believe. They're mutually exclusive [the reoccurring knee soreness and the shin bruise]. We're just concerned. So we had the scan and we'll know more tomorrow." Many 7-footers lose their NBA potential because they out grow their bodies. Like Oden was never able to over come his legs. And Philly has made sure everyone knows that Okafor can be had for much cheaper than Noel.
The worry is that he didn't have great stats on defense and rebounding. But he is a better rim protector and rebounder than he showed last year. And we forget sometimes that we are talking about teenagers in a grown man's League. He was a 19-year old rookie battling in the trenches against much wiser and mature veteran with little or no help. But he still averaged almost 18 PPG and 8 rebounds. That is really not a bad season for a 19-year old rookie. I think Bender has more upside, but Okafor could a 20-10 guy next season.
I still like the comparison to Duncan (if the Celtics trade for him of course). Duncan average 21 PPG and almost 12 rebounds as a rookie. But you have to remember that Duncan was a senior who came out of Georgia Tech as a 22-year old rookie. Okafor is still two years younger than Duncan was as a rookie. In the right situation he could average 21 PPG and 10 to 12 RPG in three years. This season will be his junior season, next season could be his senior season, and 2019 would be his Tim Duncan age equivalent rookie season.
is still a 7-footer with a 7-6 Wingspan, who shot 66.4% from the
floor at Duke. There are a lot of players I'd rather have than
Okafor, but he will not be in Philly next year. He will be a better
player next year than this year. He is the cheapest player the
Celtics can get who can contribute to a Championship in 2 or 3
years. But if they can't get Durant than they are are back to the three
to five year plan.
The Player: Dragan Bender: Enter The Dragan.
The Reason: He is the player on the Board that is mostly like to help them win number 18. They are in such a unique position in the NBA right now that they almost have to strike while the iron is hot. Getting to the Playoffs two years in a row is an accomplishment that has to be built upon. So getting a gigantically talented free agent is possible, with the lure of the winning, the weaker Eastern conference, the great team chemistry and coach, and a limitless future with two more shiny Lottery picks on the way. Like the way Tim Duncan joined the Spurs that was already loaded with Robinson and Elliot. It would only take a free agent signing and trade or two to put the Celtics in the Spurs position in 1997.
Like Porzingas, he is a Stevens type player who can rebound and hit the Three, which are the Celtics two biggest needs as a team. "[Porzingas is] 7-foot-2, shoots the ball, handles the ball, catches three lobs a game [for easy slams]," Stevens said. "It looks like he could be a real versatile defender. He protects the rim. He could be special. Not very many people have a chance to be special. He does." They are different players. Bender is a better rebounder and defender at the same age, and Porzingas was a better pure shooter. But Bender can shoot the ball, handle the ball, and catch high lobs for slams like Porzingas.
If a couple of guys in the rumor mill (Durant, Butler, George, or Cousins) are smart enough to see that than the Celtics are contending next year. They just need a star or two to get them out of the Eastern Conference, and a hit or two in the Lottery to make it work for 15 to 20 years. And it is not as long a shot as it currently seems. Danny did work two miracles in 2007. So getting a couple of these guys doesn't seem so daunting.
Durant is the obvious one. As the Celtics were the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA last season (as Philly could not be considered a real NBA team last year). Getting a pure shooter would do more to help this team than anything else. Even getting Okafor to pair with Durant would easily send the Celtics into the Eastern conference finals.
Second Choice: Jaylen Brown SF
4. Phoenix- Jaylen Brown- Duke, Fr, 19-years old, 6-6.75, 222, Standing Reach 8' 6.5",
Wingspan 6-11.75, 2.9 APG, 14.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 48.2% FG, 29.4% 3-P, 65.4% FT,
He could go as
high as Four to Phoenix, as he is a better fit for what they need. But
Brown clearly needs the most work learning basketball skills of the
top seven players. "He can handle the ball," Cal HC Martin said.
"He can shoot the ball. He gets to the rim. He posts up. He plays
inside. He plays
outside. More than anything, with all that talent, his mental approach is at a high level."
He might have the most physically talented body in the Draft.
But as you get higher and higher up the levels, skills and smarts become more and more important. "Youíre not just talking about a guy that wants to play basketball. He wants to be successful in the realm of life," Martin said. "A lot of these guys get a bad rap for one and done. Jaylen and Ivan never talk like that. They want to be college student-athletes. Whatever presents itself at the end of the season, thatís what happens." He looks like an NBA small forward already.
But he needs to really work on his basketball skillset. "This guyís the best finisher in the class," Paul Biancardi said. "When he gets in the paint and at the rim, you can't stop him. He can go over you, he can go around you. A great second jump, a jump shot that needs work." He is a project who will be as good as his basketball smarts and instincts will allow him to be.
The Reason: Jalen Brown: Ambidextrous Dunker.
The Reason: He is a great physical talent. "Kid out of Cal, big strong wing, in the Stanley Johnson mold," Goodman said. "Stanley Johnson was a rookie in Detroit this year, not a great shooter. He fits because they need a big strong wing, right? But if you could have anything that they need right now it would be a younger Paul Pierce. Jaylen Brownís got that body, but he doesnít have the ability to score the ball. He doesnít have the high IQ yet in terms of decision-making with the ball and driving to the basket. He was kind of a mess last year at Cal at times, but I think heíll be in the mix." He also struggled to bring wins to Cal last year.
Second Choice: None
5. Minnesota- Jamal Murray- Kentucky, PG/SG 6-4.25, 207,
3-P 40.1%, 2-P 50.2%, FT 78.3%, 20.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.14 3-PPG and 2.2 APG
The Team: Murray is a player with NBA range on his Jumper already. "I said it to everybody that I talked to before the game," Brown, the HC of the Danes said. "Tyler Ulis is the best point guard in the country. Skal Labissiere will go number one or two in the NBA Draft, and Jamal Murray is the best basketball player in the country. Nothing that happened tonight changed my mind." He will over dribble annoying sometimes, as a lot of 18 and 19 year olds do, but he can play the point as well as be a knockdown shooter coming off picks.
He is more a Ray Allen type shooter who needs picks and some help from his teammates to get open. "I became more efficient and a skilled shooter," Murray said. "I found ways to get open when scouting reports said donít let me catch the ball. I just had to work to get open and find different ways of doing that. Just playing winning basketball and learning how to play the two-guard." But he can also create for his teammates. He does a great job getting into the lane and dishing.
He was a great point guard in high school, but moved to shooting guard for Calipari. His decision making at the point is not great, as he tries to get too fancy sometimes. "He was on cruise control," Brown said. "He was hanging out and picking his spots. In my opinion, heís a combination of Mark Jackson and Andre Miller with a jump shot. He plays at a great pace, has great feel, and great size. He can post up and can score from all three levels. Heís really good." He still has work to do on defense.
is another Canadian who came down to America (I love that ironic statement) to play basketball. "It was difficult at first, just to play off the ball so much and not have the ball in your hands," Murray said.
"It's difficult to get in a rhythm when youíre not hitting shots, but I found ways to do that, and I played with a lot more energy than I normally do, and passion."
In November and December, he really struggled with not playing the
But his story is that he is a guy who just kept getting better. "The people that have watched us at the beginning of the year know how much his game has changed," Calipari said. "And what's happened is he went from degree-of-difficulty shots, avoid the contract, and just throw a ball at the rim, not getting to the foul line, not shooting enough catch-and-shoots. Assist to turnover ratio was under water. And we just kept demanding. This is what the best version of you looks like. He's a great kid. He wants to be coached. And I was on him hard. Not as hard as I was on Karl Towns, but I've been on him really hard. All of a sudden, you're seeing an efficient player who's volume scoring." Plus, he has that clutch gene that you cannot teach.
Player: One reason teams are going to like this kid is because he can hit the Three. "I said it to everybody that I talked to before the game," Albany HC Brown said. "Jamal Murray is the best basketball player in the country. Nothing that happened tonight changed my mind. He was on cruise control. He was hanging out and picking his spots. In my opinion, heís a combination of Mark Jackson and Andre Miller with a jump shot. He plays at a great pace, has great feel, and great size. He can post up and can score from all three levels. Heís really good." What makes him so special is that he has an elite clutch jumper. Danny is watching this kid
too, and Celtics top need is a pure shooter.
But he still doesn't always trust it, and still has some learning to do. "Any inside out pass to him, weíre telling him to shoot it," Calipari said. "'Donít hesitate.' If itís inside and comes out to you, 'let it go'. If youíre coming off a screen, and you want to drive, 'drive it coming off a screen.' Weíre trying to tell him, 'do not back it out and do the And-One tape.' You just donít play that way. You donít get by anybody. Itís an offensive foul. Itís a turnover." But when the clock is running out of the Half, he is the guy who gets it done for them. Now he just has to mature as a person and basketball player.
He has some shake 'n bake in his jumper as well. He is a great 3-point shooter. He is terrific coming off the pick turning and shooting. Terrific catch and shooter from the corner. When he is not hitting Threes he is not doing much. But when he gets hot from Three, he can take over the game. He can grab the rebound and bring it up court, but then will too often just shot it without even looking to pass.
He is not a PG, and is small for an NBA SG. He has almost no PG passing instincts.
Great clutch player. He takes over games in the final two minutes. Lead Canada to championship last yeat??? Took over the final game in the final two minutes. Continued to hit clutch shots at Kentucky. He is a guy that the Celtics have to consider as a future compliment to Marcus Smart. I think those two to make a championship duo backcourt in three or four years.
But he is still so young. He is still only 19. Which reads as vast potential, which he is not ready to step in and play, like James Young still wasn't last year.
Some have been comparing him to Steph Curry, because he has point guard skills and an unstoppable jumper. "I like him," Murray said about Curry. "I watch him a lot. My dad enjoys watching him. We study his shot. Coach Cal kind of restrained me from doing all the splitting the defense and all the dribbling, but I had fun this year. Iím not trying to think about Steph Curry or anybody like that. Iím just trying to be me."
He does not play the Point at Kentucky. He is a Wing shooter for Kentucky. He is getting a great education on defense at Kentucky. "I became more efficient and a skilled shooter," Murray said. "I found ways to get open when (opponentsí) scouting reports said donít let me catch the ball. I just had to work to get open and find different ways of doing that. Just playing winning basketball and learning how to play the two-guard."
He plays tough defense. He is a Wing, who plays very good defense against bigger guys. He can really get up in defense. He is a sneaky good shot blocker. Nice sneaky rebounder.
fit here, but I think he is the fourth best player in the Draft. "He has a great knack for scoring the ball,"
an NBA exec said. "He can play two positions. He has international competition. So he would definitely fit the Sixers."
They could go Sabonis here. But he is a little stiff and
mechanical, and no where near the clutch shooter Murray is.
When Canada played the USA team in the Champ game in the Pan Am games he dropped 22-point in the 4th quarter and OT to single handedly beat the US. "Jamal is one of the greatest kids," Calipari said. "The improvement he showed over the course of the season may be unmatched by anyone Iíve ever coached. He grew into a true winner and one of the most efficient scorers. What I love about Jamal is heís a great teammate who has a smile on his face every day. Iím going to really miss coaching him." By the end of his freshman year he was averaging 20 PPG as a 19-year old shooter.
took too many bad shots early, but took to coaching and was one of
the most efficient scorers in the NCAA by the end of the season.
"There's no doubt in my mind," assistant coach Kenny Payne said. "Jamal Murray will be an NBA All-Star. Many times
over. He had to process what was going on. Whenever the spurt hit, all he did was process what we were teaching.
slowing down mentally, re-identifying his game." The guys who
can learn the game the best are the ones who succeed on the next
All teams need scoring. "He's a great natural scorer," Payne said. "Naturally, he can put the ball in the hole. More than just jump shots. Floaters, runners, midrange, layups. Drawing fouls. He can do it all. He's so young and he's learning. He's just a baby. When he accepted the way coach Cal pushed him, accepted what we were trying to get him to do, the way we wanted him to slow down, things opened up for him." Not the best fit, but in three years he could be the best player on the team.
Second Choice: Buddy Hield SG/SF
6. New Orleans- Kris Dunn- Providence, PG, 6-4.5, 220, Standing Reach 8-4", WS 6-9.5,
6.2 APG, 16.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 45 FG%, 35.4 3-P%, 2.5 SPG,
The Team: This could be the perfect pick for the Pelicans. Dunn comes with some risk. He is 22-years old and has shoulder issues. "People are gonna want to see those [medical reports] to make a decision on him," Adrian Wojnarowski said. "And now his group is gonna maybe be able to control this process and get him to a place where a team is gonna trade up into No. 3 or 4 for him." Because of his obstinatence with his medical records, he is going to drop in the Draft.
can't take a guy this early without seeing his x-rays. "[They] can't stop them from drafting Dunn,"
Wojnarowski said. "But will those teams do it without his medical
records. Without a personal workout. Without an interview with him?" I
just don't see how any team can do that. But just ask LaVine, it
One thing about Dunn is that he plays hard. ''I'm a hard worker and nothing was ever given to me,'' Dunn said. He got better every year at providence. He makes his teammates better with his passing. "Heís always creating separation in pick-and-roll," Vanderbiltís Damian Jones said. "When you bring somebody two-on-two, he's always getting guys open. He plays the game really well." He is a beast in the open court on the fastbreak, and consistently gives easy shots to his teammates.
Dunn is a terrible shooter, who only hit 73 Threes in four years at Providence. Though he still garnered 16.4 PPG, 6.2 APG, 5.1 RPG and 2.5 steals Last year. "Weíre both fast," Dunn said about some comparing him to John Wall. "We both can attack at the rim. Thatís one of our greatest strengths. And we can get people involved. Thatís what I like to do. I like to get people good shots. And John Wall, he's not a bad defender. He definitely works hard on the defensive end, and that's one of my strengths." I don't see that comparison.
Word coming out of Philly is that they want Dunn. "They made me feel like they really wanted me there," Dunn said. "We all were very engaged. We talked about a lot of things. I appreciate them having me." Great transition passer. He can draw a crowd and kick it to the wing for the layup. Knows how to get the ball to teammates. When he is locked on a man in his zone he really shows his quicks. I see the po-tential now. Slices past picks in man nicely. He can drive, stop and up fake to get the big in the air, and twist his body past the Big for an easy basket.
""Lakers enamored with Providence's Kris Dunn," Marc J. Spears tweeted. "After #2 pick & have talked about possibility of 3-guard rotation using Russell as combo, [per] source"
}I'm biased, but I really think heís a first-pick-caliber player," former Friars point guard God Shammgod said. "I think Kris can be a guy who makes 13 to 14 All-Star appearances,Ē Shammgod told Basketball Insiders. ďHeís so talented on both ends of the floor and he does the little things that people donít notice too. He throws the advance pass as well as any player Iíve seen since Jason Kidd. That may not jump out to others, but little things like that separate him from other players. With his game, leadership and personality, heís a face-of-the-franchise type of player. Heís the guy you want to build a team around. Not only is he a great player, heís a great leader and great person off the court. Everyone loves who he is and loves his personality. When he sits down with NBA executives, theyíre going to be impressed."
When he picks up a loose ball he attacks to the other side with some speed. Loves to dish to teammates in the open court. Not a clutch shooter. Nice clutch passer, who can draw the double or triple and kick to an open teammate.
HE is expected to run the set in the clutch. He makes the right pass in the final seconds of the game.
He has great size for a PG. He is 6-4 with a 6-9 wingspan, and has huge hands to control the ball. Great crossover, especially against bigger guys. Great quickness changing direction, like a much smaller player. He can make the 3/4 to full court pass look easy. He can bring chaos to the defense with his dribbling through traffic. He can post the other PG, and force the double that give a teammate an open shot on the swing.
"The reason people like Dunn so much is heís a big guard who can play point guard, and heís a terrific defensive player," a scout said. "Heís got tremendous activity. Plays very hard. Heís a factor on both ends of the court, and with a lot of younger players you canít really say that. With him, you can."
Plays a lot of zone. Very nice passer inside. "I think my greatest strength is I'm a great defender," Dunn said. "I like to defend on the ball. I like to get after people. I like to get under people's skin." He average 6.2 APG, 16.4 PPG, and 2,7 steals. He had very long arms, but he is not a great defender. Plays a lot of 2-3 Zone, where he will take a rest sometimes and put his hands on his knees.
Good not great shooter, but we all know shooting can improve with simple repetition. Good range that has not reached the 3-point line yet. Knows how to get to his spots and guts nice height on his jumper. Nice consistent jumper form the foul line. Used shooting off the dribble. I 'like to see his feet set a little more on his jumpers. Snaps his wrist nicely on Threes. He is a little to used to shooting the pull up, as he is used to being covered by smaller PGs who cannot contest the great high release point of his Jumper. He is nice pull up jumper off the pick and roll. Seems like he is always shooting off the dribble.
He reminds me of Brain Shaw as well, only he is much quicker. So teams have to decided if he is gong to be Brain Shaw or Walls. He has great quick hands on defense. He does a good job guessing when the little PG tries to pass over him, and can leap up and find the ball with his quick hands. He also uses his great understanding of passes and passing lanes to steal passes on defense.
He has such great instincts for passing. He knows when and how to get the ball to his teammate. I think he has the widest variety of passes of anyone in this Draft. Elite vision and understand of how to get the ball to a teammate. Which is why he goes from a little wild to out of control, because he expects his ability to pass to bail him a little too much.
Knows how to set up the picker on the pick and roll. Terrific drop pass on the pick and roll. Terrific passer in traffic. I love how he gets into the Paint at will, and then finds a big for the layup. He has every kind of pass in the Paint that leads to easy baskets for his teammates. He has a quick little floater inside the foul line.
Terrific leaper on the offensive glass. He looks like he is NBA ready on the pick and roll. Terrific passer of the pick and roll offense. Great speed in the open court, but looses control sometimes. Understands how to hit the second or third trailers instead of just the first. Such great vision on the fastbreak. With his speed he can also be a once man fastbreak.
Great athlete who can explode off the floor for the highlight dunk. Nice double pump layup that he can use on bigger guys. He can switch over and shot the ball going to hole with his left when a big guy comes over to block him. And nit just lay it in with his left, but shoot a high arcing off balance hook with a Big on his shoulder. He has a strong left handed hook that he can shoot off the double bounce.
Great long arms and quick feet make him a great defender. He can really get up on smaller PGs, and harass them with his feet. He does a good job not reaching gin too much, and use his position to take the options away from his opponent. But he certainly can use his long arms and quick hands to slap the ball out of a smaller PGs dribble. He is so terrific at slicing over the picker on the pick and roll. It is almost uncanny. It's like he baits and switches him.
Quick almost casual passer. Terrific looking over the defense for the backdoor pass. He can tear apart a defense, just with passes, from the top of the key. He can get a little too fancy with the dribble, but when it works it is something to see.
Very strong handle going left. He is s force going to his right, and then just jumping over the smaller PG for the easy layup. He can go left, and still pull up and hit the jumper. He can go to the hole righty, and when the big comes over, calmly glide to the left and put it in with a little lefty hook.
He doesn't have to beat the PG with his dribble, he just gets to where he wants to go and shots over him. WE have no seen a PG prospect like this since Walls.
He can really bully opponents PGs with his size. Terrific set up guy. He knows how to distribute the ball to keep the team going. Nice no bounce pass for the easy layup.
He decided to come back for his senior season even though his Dad and college coach told him to go. "I donít want to just be drafted," Dunn said. "I want to be a professional player, and Iím just not there yet, physically, skill level. "Iíve seen a lot of players go [to the NBA], and are one and done and get lost in the NBA. And they felt like they should have stayed one more year. One more year never hurts anybody because youíre learning more about the game and youíre learning more about yourself." It doesn't always work when guys stay on school, but it worked for Dunn.
The Reason: The Pelican desperately need a point guard. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are both free agents after this season, and both look like they are gone. ''For any point guard who's going there, who wouldn't want to play with Anthony Davis,'' Dunn said. ''He's definitely a superstar, up there with LeBron and all those guys. To be able to play with a guy like that, it's only going to help me.'' So they need to look for replacements for those guys.
Some think Hield and Dunn are the two most NBA ready players in the Draft. ''We're obviously going to get a good player,'' Pelican's HC Gentry said. ''I think there are a lot of good players that potentially going to be strong players. It's going to help our team and then we will move forward from there.'' It is time for the Pelicans to start winning, especially if they want a chance of keeping Gordon and Anderson.
Second Choice: Jaylen Brown SF
7. Nuggets- Buddy Hield- Duke, Fr, 22-years old, 6-5, 212, Standing Reach 8-5,
WS 6-9.25, 2.2 APG, 20 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 40.8 3-P% on 3.14 3-PPG 45.4 FG%, 1 SPG,
The Team: After the top three their are four guys who have the talent to maybe reach an All-Star game or two, maybe. Then the dearth of talent in this Draft really takes over. Poeltl could slip into the top seven. He has a very low floor but also has the lowest ceiling in the top ten. Sabonis could make it a top eight, but he is a little slow, methodic, and robotic. Deyonta Davis sucks. Chriss has the upside, but he is like a stash and carry high school kid, who should be ready to contribute when his rookie contract is up. Labissiere has the Tyson Chandler body, but looks less develop than Chandler when he came out of high school (which is scary). Ellenson has a tragic lack of hops, but he moves around the court nicely. I like the French kid Timothe Luwawu and the kid from Spain Juan Hernangomez as stash guys.
He will bring the ball up sometimes and shot the jumper without looking at a teammate, which I hate. "Been impressed from day one, his passion for the game, his ability to focus from a work ethic standpoint on things he needs to do to get better," the OK HC Kruger said. "That's from his freshman, sophomore year. Every day he would ask me, 'Coach, how can I get better? What do I need to work on? A lot of kids will say that, but then theyíll go work on the things theyíre most comfortable doing. In Buddyís case, you say, 'Hey, Buddy, left hand needs to be improved, need to take it to the bucket stronger.' Those are things he would work on. He was very focused on what he has to do to complete himself as a player." He is one of those guys who worked so hard on his lefty game that he now drives more to the left than right, which I love.
He makes plays shooting and scoring. Guys who can do both are the special ones. "Buddy is going to make plays for us," his teammate Ryan Spangler said. "We are going to have open shots because of Buddy. We are going to get the ball in good places because of Buddy, so he will make plays for us. I think thatís the most important thing. Itís just great to see him succeed, because I see him work hard and heís Ďs earned everything thatís coming his way, so itís just fun to watch." Tough as nails and is explosive going to the hole. You cannot let him drive right.
He also can lead the fastbreak and dish to a teammate. "Buddy plays at a special level," his teammate Jordan Woodard said. "I couldnít be more pleased for him, primarily because of the way heís handled it. Heís passing around the praise, complimenting his teammates, coming with enthusiasm and passion every day. Itís great to see." But it is his 3-point shooting that will get him drafted in the top eight.
He should develop into a solid 3-point shooting Number Three. "I think the guys recognize Buddy is at the core of everything we do," Kruger said. "Buddyís going to get that target on his back. I think the other guys, number one, they recognize what Buddy has done as being very special and theyíre comfortable with that. They also recognize, too, when defenses make it tough on Buddy, they've got to be able to step up and take advantage of additional opportunities." In the end, he was the guy that made his teammates better at Oklahoma.
The Reason: They want to win now. They have their young Big Three, and need to start winning now. They just need to get more experience, but they also need shooting. Hield is as old or older as the core three, and he can shoot. The Timberwolves best shooter last season was their big center Towns. That has to change. Hield can step in and start shooting Threes day one. Plus, when you draft a player who F-bombs walking up to fulfill his dream, you have to think LaVine is gone the second his rookie contract is up.