Celtics Blog 2016-

Post Draft.

And In The Third Race, Bird Lite.

By Tom Mahoney

The Celtics had a dream, "get another Larry Bird like player and turn it into three Championships again." It was a dream that seemed so clear and so easy to see. The Celtics believed that Durant could be a Bird-Lite like player in Boston. With the young Celtics around him, and maybe a veteran or two added to race, they could add three more championships. It was so close and so beautiful. Then of course the Boston media had to turn it into something ugly. Pathetically calling him everything from "coward" to "weak".  

I understand the disappointment, they were so damn close to hitting the next trifecta. "We had felt all along that it would make sense to come East," Wyc Grousbeck said. "Putting ourselves in his shoes, but it would make sense to come East, it would make sense to be part of winning a championship. We thought we could win Banner 18 and maybe 19 and 20 with him, and he would be the leader of it. He'd be the Larry Bird of it." They were neck and neck with the Warriors, and just fell short by a hair on the end of Steph's nose.

They brought in a triumphant of TB12, Ortiz, and even some Canadian named Olynyk, to put them in position at the wire. "I feel like weíre in good position," Ainge said. "I feel like we still have all of our pieces. Weíre excited about Jaylen. Weíre excited about whatís going on for us in free agency [Horford, Johnson and Jerebko]. And weíre continuing to develop guys that I think arenít even in their prime of their career yet that are continuing to get better." They rode it as hard as they could. 

Durant even said that Brady was his favorite football player. "Heís a huge Tom Brady fan," Ainge said. "They talked for a minute or two and then we sat down as a group." It all seemed so cozy with Smart, Thomas, Crowder, and Olynyk, being joined by Danny, Stevens, Pagliuca and Wyc. "We flew in to the Hamptons and we got in early, so we went out to have lunch," Ainge said. "I think it was fun for all of us to sit there and talk to Tom Brady and ask him questions. You know, hereís a guy thatís going to be 39 next month, and he talked about his health and fitness and nutrition and his dedication to the game. I thought our players were listening intently to him. And he had some fun stories." It must have seemed at that second like they were a nose hair away from winning the Triple Crown.

They did everything in the final race, from promising to go after whatever  jockeys Durant wanted to ride with, to signing Horford seemingly a split second after it was all over. "We felt like that was the most important part of the whole presentation: who heíd play with, and how heíd be utilized," Ainge said. "He had some good questions about that and about his role. How he would play. How we would use him. I think we did a great job of explaining and making a great presentation, and I think it was tempting for him. I think he is very, very excited about: Boston, and the history, the Celtics, all of that. I think he loved what Brad had to say. I think he was impressed with Bradís preparation, and we had a really good feeling about it." To already having the coach that he respected the most.

Durant was paying attention. "I got the impression that they knew something before we did," Ainge said about Horford and Durant in the 1st race. "I know that they had some conversation. They were very familiar with what Horford was choosing between. It seemed to me in the presentation like Al and KD had been discussing their plans together." It seemed he had talked to Horford and knew he was going to ride with the Celtics before they did. 

But in the end, you can only go with the horses you got. "You know, I thought about that before and Iíve thought about that after, and I really donít think so," Ainge said when asked if he thought there was more he can do. "Shy of a couple of moves that I couldnít do. But in deals that we could have done that we refused to do, I donít think that would have mattered for this. I think that KD really likes our players." But Durant liked the Four Horsemen better.

When you come in second to those four guys, it is more of a complement than insult. "I felt like the meeting and presentation couldnít have gone any better," Ainge said. "I think we all felt that. I think it went as well as it could have, and we got a really good sense that it was going to be a really hard decision for him, but that we were a strong consideration." But it still hurts to lose by a nose hair.

I thought for a minute that Danny was going to call for the photo finished to be checked. "You know, in a situation like that, you never really know," Ainge said. "I didnít really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had some chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance. I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasnít meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didnít happen." But in the end the Warriors had the four horses of the Apocalypse on their side. "[Not] under any circumstances," Ainge said, "We werenít going to be able to produce Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green [and Iggy]." So He chose: Curry, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala. Which you really can't blame him for doing. They have been one of the best teams ever over the past two years.

The Celtics are clearly on the right track. They came so close to landing Larry-Lite. "He's also said Larry Bird was his idol or his favorite basketball player," Wyc said. "But then it was two-and-a-half hours face to face with him and his dad on a couple of couches in the living room. You come out of that and you feel like you have a good chance and you feel like you were really resonating with him. What Brad said. What Danny said. What our players said. What Tom Brady said. What Steve Pagliuca, and I were able to say. It just seemed that the conversation was very very positive. I actually think we were very close, but we lost to the Golden State Warriors. I don't think I'm going to make any apologies. I don't feel like losing to a team that won 73 games is a failure. If someone's going to go to a team that's already that good, what are you going to do?" They were the only team that Durant considered that hadn't won a Playoff series in the past two years, and came in second to signing the best free agent to be available since LaBron left Miami. The Celtics are clearly racing in the right direction.

Ortiz and TB12 Come Through Again.

By Tom Mahoney

It just seems whenever New England needs them they are there. "I think it was just as much fun for all of us to be around Tom Brady and just talk to him," Ainge said. " Our players were really infatuated and excited to meet with Tom Brady and just talk to him about fitness and training at his age, and how he stays so healthy. There was a lot of discussion about that over lunch. It was fun listening to Tom teach our young guys." So even though they didn't land the big fish, Big Papi and TB12 still stepped up in the clutch and helped the Celtics.

It is really such a special situation that no one seemed to think it was as big a deal as it really was, and why Boston is such a unique place. "First Tom and Kevin greeted each other," Ainge said. " They had met each other before. Tom's a big fan of KD's. Then we sat down fairly quickly and got down to business. Tom talked a little bit about the Celtics and Boston and what it's like as a city and how they embrace sports." In what other city would two superstar Champions like Brady and Ortiz step up and help another team in the city land a player from another sport.

Durant clearly made a mistake when you look at in that context. "It's hard to know for sure what kind of impact Tom [and Ortiz] had on things," Ainge said. " Obviously it was beneficial for us and I think for sure it was great for our players. It was fun to be around Tom. I think it had some impact on KD for sure, but how much, I don't know. You could tell there was a great deal of mutual respect. Tom did a great job for us and we're very grateful, regardless of the outcome. It was a good experience for us." He could have joined Brady and Ortiz [and Larry Legend] in the hearts and minds of the most unique sports city in America. Instead, he went to Oakland. Yay.

No players from any of the other cities other franchises, especially Oakland (if their is one?), took the time to come out and help their city or State. And no offense to David, but Tom and Julian are in their off season, and took time out of their vacation time to come and help their Massachusetts brethren. "Listen, they are an outstanding team," Ainge said. " And nobody can deny the great talent that they have. But weíre not going to just lay down and die, Iíll tell you that." Now Durant can travel down the other bridge in San Fran Bay. You know, the one no one knows the name of.

It really was such a special moment in Boston Sports history to have those guys come out from other teams to help the Celtics. It never has and never will happen in another State. "I felt that we did what we went out to do," Ainge said. "And it was in their hands. Thereís a lot of different factors in their decisions, and we respect that." I think that was the most wonderful thing lost in this whole Durant debacle. 

But Boston shined brighter to the while NBA world because of their two Champions. "This was an unique experience," Ainge said. "This was a good experience for us to go to pitch to Al. Then pitch to KD. I think we all learned something from it. I think we got better from Al to the KD one, even though we didnít land KD. I think it was a fun process. It was good for our team. And it was good for team-building with the players and the coach. I think it was good experience for all of us." The Celtics just became a top destination in the NBA.

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So now the Celts are back to the drawing board. "We need more shooting," Ainge said. " We have some guys who are versatile and can play center and 4. We can use a stronger center, and those are the two biggest things. Maybe another ball-handler as well." I just don't see the need for another ball-handler. Did he watch Rozier play last night. Boom! Game over man. I told you he was the best player on the Celtics Summer League roster.

They brought the two guys back on one year deals that will free up 20-Mil in Cap cash for next off season, again. "Amir and Jonas are two of Coach's favorite guys," Ainge said. "They play hard. They are loved by their teammates and they had terrific years last year for us. We are excited to have them back." When you add that 20-mil to the expected 20-mil plus bump on the Cap again next year, they could have over 50-mil in cap cash again next year. So all this big name free agency can start all over again after next season. And maybe a Bruin could take a minute out of their busy schedules to make a recruiting trip to help a city out? Nay, just kidding.

They also still have Sullinger and Zeller on the hook. "I've talked with both those guys and we'll continue to see how it all plays out," Ainge said. "We are still looking at doing deals and we're certainly not finished for the summer. Those are two very good players and we'll continue talking with them as the summer goes along." But I don't think either one will sign one year deals to keep the cap free for next year.

As for shooting, Young has been knocking threes down like he is ready to make the Celtics final roster. "Listen, you have to earn a roster spot," Ainge said. "There are some exceptions, like James Young is an exception. He was drafted at 18 years old, and we have to be patient with him. But now itís time. But competition is a good thing. It brings out the best in these guys." He is pretty much useless on every other facet of offense, but he has been the best sniper in the Summer League this year. He was even hitting them after he missed a few early, with guys in his face, in last night's game against the Spurs. That translates to the NBA.

Summer League: Trade Winds Are Ah-Blowin'.

By Tom Mahoney

he Sixers have officially announced they are open for Okafor business. "Jimmy Butler and Jahlil Okafor are said to be still available," Bulpett wrote. "But getting them now wonít be as easy as on draft night when Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively, both coveted the No. 3 overall pick so they could take Providenceís Kris Dunn." With the signing of Wade, Jimmy Butler is no longer available. They have to win now.

So that leaves the elusive Okafor-trade which is a must for the Sixers. "I would be surprised," 76ers' HC Brett Brown said, when asked if Okafor, Noel, and Embiid would all be on their roster opening day (don't forget veteran PFs: Carl Laundry and Eldon Brand, and a couple of Euro Bigs Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic). "I would be surprised. I talk freely always with my players. This is something that in a different world, maybe itís awkward, [but It isnít [here]. Because itís true. Itís real. Itís part of pro sport [positions matter]. Sometimes for the players too, like they have to understand that maybe itís best for them too. Instead of sort of hiding from this kind of, what could be the elephant in the room or an awkward moment. I donít like doing that. I speak freely with my guys about it. Itís just we understand the positional balance of our roster needs to rule the day. We have to find a balanced team." Honestly, they could trade both Okafor and Noel, and it wouldn't hurt them at all. But, they don't have legit NBA options at PG and SG. That will kill their season this year.

The Sixers still have to trade one or two of their Bigs for a wing and a point. "Whoís gonna guard the point guard? (ah-Rozier)" Colangelo said. "Whoís gonna be able to shoot it in a catch and shoot situation? (ah Crowder) Whoís gonna be able to be a secondary ball handler or a backup point, if say Ben Simmons is off the floor. Or the primary ball handler if Ben is off the floor? (ah Rozier) I just think we need to feel our way a little bit here. Weíre not gonna win a championship this season. But we hope to make incredible strides in terms of getting better and building this program. But when you add a versatile, talented piece like Ben Simmons you let some of that stuff work itself out." They need a young PG and young wing shooter to grow with Simmons. The Celtics have two guys, Rozier and Crowder who instantly impact their two biggest needs.

Rozier solves one of those issues, but I don't want to give up Bradley. The situation really is untenable for both teams. The Celtics are going to lose three or four assets who could play in the NBA this season. Meanwhile the Sixers not only have Embiid, Noel, and Okafor (and the other four), they have Simmons and some Euro named Dario Saric who has grown into a power forward like point forward like Simmons. The Sixers probably want Bradley more than Crowder, but if you threw in a couple if 1st Round wing shooters, like James Young and RJ Hunter, it would help both teams immeasurably. 

And most important for the Celtics they have to hold onto the 2017 Swap (which means their 2017 pick as well, you cannot swap picks if you don't have a pick to swap) and the Nets 2018 pick. They cannot trade the Swap under any circumstance. But they can trade their own 2018 1st. Also Young and RJ are past 1st round picks, who are not getting off the bench for Boston this season. Which helps Colangelo and Brown sell the trade to the Philly base, like Trump disgracefully sells hate. Throw in the Celts 2018 1st, and it can be sold as a steal. A veteran Wing with one of the best Cap friendly contracts in the NBA, and four new and used 1st round picks.

They are in big trouble with their nine Bigs trying to get minutes in two positions "We all have to be reminded that Embiid hasnít played a second of [NBA] basketball," Brown said. "Ben hasnít either. And I hope to get Dario here, and he wouldnít have played a second either. Those are all sort of front-court players. As you said, we need back-court experience. We need to identify starting NBA point guard and I think really focus on like our 1ís and 2ís with veteran NBA players." Cleaning up that clog of Bigs and getting a PG who can settle things when the offense gets clogged, and a wing shooter who can spread the floor would be as big for them as getting a Big in Boston. 

The Sixers all know and understand this fact. Brown wasn't talking himself out onto the ledge alone. "Brett and I are together on everything and to be honest with you, I donít think itís a public appeal," Sixers' GM Colangelo said. "Itís just an acknowledgement of where we are. We really would like to improve the backcourt, whether itís the one or the two position. I like to say guards and wings. We really do need to improve this basketball from top to bottom and thatís something that weíve been trying to do. Some of it entails developing the young guys that we have and some of it means bringing in some better players. And Iím in search of those better players right now via free agency, via trade conversations that weíre having." Rozier is the perfect solution to grow with this young team.

You can laugh at Rozier if you want, but he got a ton of valuable experience as a rookie last year. And, he played very well in the Playoffs. "The Playoffs helped my confidence more than anything," Rozier said. "This off-season grind is me trying to take advantage of it. I took five, seven days off after the season, and then I got right to it. This is an important summer for me." He was also terrific against the 76ers squad in Utah.

He has been the best player on the Celtics Summer League roster. "Heís our point guard," Shrewsberry said down in Utah. "I put a lot of onus on him to play great and take advantage of his time. He spends a lot of time with coach Allen. Every timeout, heís over talking with him about, ĎHey, you can do this? You can do that. Look for that.' Terry listens. Heís great at taking things that you give him and being able to implement it in a game situation." The Sixers have to get someone who can play next to Simmons, and is athletic enough to cover opponents PGs. That description fits Rozier to a T.

He is so good at getting into the paint, and shooting it from a variety of shots and release points. "It is an important shot because in this league, guys are great shot-blockers," Rozier said. "I have to have some kind of pull-up, whether itís off the break or coming off a pick-and-roll. Thatís just part of thinking the game, being smart, and knowing when to score or create for others." Just like what Simmons is working on right now.

Plus when Simmons gets in trouble, Rozier can bail him out. He just has that knack for bailing out the offense. "When we bogged down, you can always call a high pick-and-roll for him," Shrewsberry said. "He creates so much pressure on everybody else and on the defense, just being able to get into the paint. Heís so shifty. He can be going one way, stop, come back the other way. You think you have him cut off and heís going right back the first way he was going. Heís doing a good job of finding his teammates too. Pushing, attacking in transition when he has it, and getting settled in the half court. He and R.J. looked like theyíve played in games. They were calm for us." The Sixers need someone who can be calming influence on their young superstar.

Not that I want to get rid of him, because I think he is a young star in the making. "It was mostly my agent Iíve worked with," Rozier said. "We got into the gym three times a day. Heís a good shooter, and we just talked about a lot of things. We were just always in the gym, and thatís a lot of shots, and seeing the ball go through. He played a little ball, but he lives his dreams through his clients. I wouldnít call him a shooting coach, but he does more than what an agent does. He invests his time in his guys. Just keep working is what I take out of it. Summer league is the perfect time for me to keep working on it. Once I see it go through, Iím a guy who can quickly adjust. It makes me a better player. Jerome and I are working on a lot of stuff coming off the pick-and-roll, and thatís something I have to apply to the game." But just like Okafor in Philly, where are they going to get minutes.

The Sixers are overloaded with PFs and centers. "That is the question of the day," Brown said when asked who the heck was going to be their guards. "Itís a good question. Itís the most real one that is just staring right at us. And on the time when the draft finished and even on that night. Because you know, there are eminent type of trade speculations. Some are true, some are not entirely accurate. We get it. We got a glut of Bigs. Weíre trying to figure out how that all plays out as it relates to the point-guard and to the two-guard. And how do you get these guys that havenít played a second of NBA basketball a little bit more comfortable to some back-court guidance." The Celts are overloaded with Wings and PGs.

Rozier is an instant starter on the Sixers, but might not get off the bench in the first half of the season for the Celtics, expect in mop up duty. While Okafor is an instant starter for the Celtics, but might not get off the bench in the first half of the season for the Sixers, expect in mop up duty. Plus, the Celtics are going to want Brown to start at small forward. That takes a lot of minutes away from Crowder. But he would be an instant starter for the Sixers. 

The Sixers are desperately trying to move forward away from the disastrous Hinkie experiment. "Iíve given Sam lots of credit," Colangelo said. "I really donít like to look backward, I like to look forward. So what weíre trying to do is build a team. I donít know what Sam would have done in the draft. I donít care what Sam would have done in the draft. What I care about is what weíre doing right now to build this basketball team." Rozier and Crowder seems the perfect medicine for what ails them. 

Summer League: The Rookies Are Taking Over.

By Tom Mahoney

The Celtics Summer League started off a little slow. The players looked a little tentative at first. These are just some notes and quotes from memories that may or may not be true. These are just some first impressions from the first game (that really is two games now). The 1st half of the first game was a little chaotic as players from both teams looked nervous and a little out of place. But both teams settled, and it even got a little nasty in the 2nd half.

Brown got a cheapshot by Richaun Holmes, and allegedly hyper-extended his knee trying to dunk on him. "I could've got a layup," Brown said. "But I was a little frustrated earlier. So I decided to just take it out." He exploded up over Holmes like he had dynamite in his sneakers, and Holmes could barely reach his elbow as he tried to rip Brown to the ground. But I'm not buying the sprained knee.

He showed up in the next game against Utah with a giant goofy ace-bandage knee wrap like it was the 70s. If he sprained his knee in a meaningless Summer League game they would have shut him down for the rest of the games, not sit him down for one game. "The next one will be better," Brown said. "I have higher expectations for myself. Today was a good first game. We got the win. I think we played the game the right way. I think we got some stuff to clean up, but next game will be much better." We will see Friday night if he plays again.

Rozier is the best player on the roster. He controlled the offense like a veteran point guard. He is so quick, low, and strong that he can get to wherever he wants on the floor. However a few times in the first game, once he got to where he wanted to go, he didn't know what to do. But he continues to pass, rebound, and score like a Summer League Fat Lever. I love his game. He develop a perfectly formed jumper. But he can also score in multiple ways going to the hoop. He just has to understand better when he should shoot and when he should pass. 

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James Young just doesn't seem to have a quick twitch bone in his body. He was so young when the Celtics took him that it seemed he had to get better physically. He did not look like he did. He also seems to lack aggression. He still doesnít have a great Vert and can look weak going to the hole. "Iíve been putting a lot of work in," Young said. "So itís just starting to show off. And Iím just going to keep working until I'm where I need to be." However, he can really shot the three.

He was 2 for 2 on Threes, and scored 8 points and grabbed 6 rebounds against Philly. Those are some good, not great, numbers. He is a smooth player. But the more he drives to the hole the worse he looks. But, when he just catches it and shoots from Three you can see him on the Celtics team next year as a sniper off the bench. "Just because I know how much work Iíve been putting in," Young said. "Itís starting to pay off." I love how he talks about hard work whenever he talks about himself.

He also hit four Threes against Utah. "The shot he made in the corner was huge," Shrewsberry said. "Just being able to have just the mental focus just to knock one in and kind of put the game on ice. Thatís good for him. I think anytime you can have positive results like that in a pressure situation, everybody builds off that." He is still only 20-years old, as he went to Kentucky as a 17-year old freshman.

He went 2 for 2 in the first game from Three, and 4 for 5 against Utah. In the two Summer League games so far he is shooting a very comfortable 85.7%. Now obviously that is not going to last. But if he can continue that shooting and end up shooting 40 to 45% from three during training camp and preseason games, they will not be able to cut him.

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Jordan Mickey was looking for his big break, and hurt his shoulder instead. "From what Iíve been told, the MRI looks good," Stevens said about his shoulder. "It doesnít look like a subluxation (a partial separation), like we talked about with Kelly." But he hasn't been able to get on the floor and really show what he can do. "Heís going to go through a light workout today," Stevens said. "The idea behind summer league when we first got together before the draft was for Jordan to get a lot of time. And for Jordan to get a lot of opportunity." But he did not get that time and opportunity so far.

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The Celtics are trying to see how Yabusele translates to the NBA. They are making the translation a little harder by playing him at center for the first time. He struggled a little in limited minutes against the Sixers. But he showed he was not shy about shooting. He has that offensive aggressiveness that you need young players to have as they enter the NBA.

But he played better in the second game against the 7-2 Tibor Plies. "He's like a big dancing bear out there," coach Shrewsberry said before the first game. "Man, he's got great feet. First of all, when you see him, like he's got that just big lovable looking personality, like a big smile. He's always happy. But he's done some really good things for us. And like I said, his feet. Man, he can move on the perimeter. He makes good plays offensively. You can give it to him in the seam and he can make really good passes. He made some great passes yesterday when people were helping. Finding guys in the corner or out on the perimeter. It's fun. Even for us watching, as assistant coaches, watching clips on film to finally get him and see and now we can try and tailor some things to make him look even better." I thought they would try him at a smaller position, like SF, because he has such nice agility moving laterally on defense.

A nice power lineup with Jaylen and Yabusele playing the Wings. "What put me over the top on him was his ability to move laterally," Stevens said before Summer League. "For a guy that size, the ability to move laterally is pretty unique. With all of the agility stuff we do and measure, it was pretty impressive what he was able to do. That stood out. And what we saw on film is that he'll be able to guard a few different spots." Now I know his true NBA position is as a stretch-4, but I saw him as a power small forward as well. He showed he could power up some centers against the beanstalk Plies.

I know everyone is going to small ball, but he could really hurt some guys at small forward. "A lot of coaches tell me I have good footwork," Yabusele said. "Even if I'm 270 pounds, I can move a lot, jump and run. I was always like this because when I was young I was a little bit skinny, so it was easy. But I gained some weight and I'm still moving, so it's great." I do love how this dancing bear moves his feet.

Summer League: Jaylen Brown.

By Tom Mahoney

Jaylen Brown looked like a kid with top five talent against Philly. He was a little lost at first, but found some rhythm going strong to the hole and drawing fouls in the 2nd half. "He was pressing just a little bit," Shrewsberry said. "He wants to play so well. He wants to please and do so well. This is a hyped up matchup. He gets a chance to guard Ben Simmons, the number one pick. He was trying just a little too hard." In the 2nd half he had his mind right.

He is such a smart kid that also understands that there is nothing wrong with a freebie. "Itís everything," Brown said about going to the free throw line. "Itís easy points. If you shoot a high percentage from the line, it just makes things a lot easier, adds to your scoring total." He drew those fouls going strong to the hole. He earned all of those freebies with his aggressive drives.

You have to attack the hoop if you want to be a star in the NBA. "Heís an aggressive player," James Young said. "Coaches tell him to be aggressive. He makes open plays for a lot of people." In his last two forays to the hoop, he soared up over a foot over everyone. " Jaylen can do some things," Shrewsberry said in the understatement of the day. "And he can fly a little bit." He was up with a Vert that only LaBron James has shown for a player his size. Guys with their builds just can't get up that high.

He also hit an early Three, which was a beautiful shot. In the 2nd Half he really started attacking their defense, and soaring up over everyone. "He was great," Rozier said. "We need a guy who can play above the rim like that. You can here a lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs'. He impressed me too. Heís a great guy. He didn't come in thinking heís better than everybody else. I talk to him all the time. All I tell him is Iíll get a hand-off to you and you just go dunk the ball. Thatís all you have to tell him. Heíll go dunk it and tear the rim down." But the dirty rotten 76ers kept hitting and cheapshotting him rather than play defense.

They hit him every chance they got in the 2nd half. "This is a manís league for sure," Brown said. "So you take some bumps and some bruises and itís rough when your body is getting adjusted at first, but Iíll be all right." He kept his aggression up, and then walked calmly to the line. Even though he knew he was a marked man.

It was so important for his potential and development to show some toughness on the court in Vegas. "I guess it kind of started growing up. In the city where I grew up itís kind of like we all have a chip on our shoulder," Brown said. "Everybodyís trying to get somewhere. Everybodyís trying to do something so thatís just how my city raised me. My brotherís a football player. He's actually trying out for the Raiders now. Heís much older than me. So he used to beat me up pretty bad growing up." The veterans will give him no respect, and really try to bully him from day one.

It was so good to see him have to be restrained a little (by Yabusele, I think?) as he spit a couple of expletives at Richuan Holmes. "Absolutely, itís a manís league," Brown said. "Youíre not playing against kids anymore. Youíre playing against grown men who do this for a living so you just definitely have to take care of your body. You have to be aware of things when they come up, make sure youíre healthy as possible and ready to go." Veterans are going to try and make him back down physically, and he has to show that he will keep coming (like he did, according to legend, against Jimmy Butler).

It sucks that he had to sit, but he showed he could stand up to the cheap stuff. "Thatís a good thing," Stevens said. "Thatís what heís got to be able to do. And thatís something that he can impact, as far as getting to the rim right away. Now, itís a little bit different, and he saw that at times as our other guys did when Richuan Holmes was in there blocking shots. Like, you have to be able to finish when those guys go vertical and thatís a whole different thing than finishing at other times in the summer league. Thatís part of the progress of getting better." The veterans he will face know every sneaky dirty trick in the book.

That is why he will be able to play as a rookie. His older brother was a football player, and you can see that when they played he had to play as physical as an older football player. He played with that physically on defense against Simmons, and on offense in the 2nd Half. He will have to play with that physicality against veterans as a rookie. Because they will try to beat him up pretty badly, and the refs will give him no respect either. But he has the experience against the older tougher football player, and now has the body to stand up to anyone.

One of the best signs for Brown is that the Celtics were spreading the floor like nothing he ever saw at Cal. In fact, I wrote in some notes watching Cal that, "when he was on the bench the Cal offense seemed to stagnate." Cal just had no shooters, two Bigs they kept in the paint, and no one else who could create their own shots on the team. "There was so much space on the floor," Brown said on the 4th of July, "I didnít know what to do." When he was in attack mode he looked like a top three pick.

I know I know. My name is Tommy. And you can call me Heinsohn if you want as well, because Brown has some serious ups. He looked like a young LaBron attacking the hole. "He puts a lot of pressure not just on the defense, but [puts pressure on] the refs also to call a foul," coach Shrewsberry said. "He shot so many free throws, you didnít notice that he didnít make a field goal, because he was getting to the line and scoring points. Heís great to have. Fun to have [on the team], to keep getting him ready for the season." We don't know what his Vert was, because he didn't go to the combine, but he is a big strong kid who can fly like a young James.

Brown kept courageously taking it to them, and shot an amazing 17 free throws in that game. "Iím going to try and get to the line as much as possible," Brown said about his stat of the day. His aggression was wonderful, but he still showed he has too much kid in his game. He was not efficient scoring at all. He went 11 for 17 from the line, and 2 for 7 from the floor for 16 points.

But what was most impressive was Brown's defense on Simmons. He was up in his face and not giving him a step all game. Simmons could not get by him, and was forced to pass it almost every time. Granted, he made some incredible passes. He was giving freebies to his teammates all game. Simmons was able to get to Brown's shoulder a few times, but he couldn't get past his shoulder and take it to the hole. I thought Simmons was more physically developed than Brown, but he matched him pound for pound.

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The Celtics could still make a trade for a veteran player (though I'm not sure Okafor should be classified as a veteran player), according to Bulpett: "Jimmy Butler and Jahlil Okafor are said to be still available, but getting them now wonít be as easy as on draft night when Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively, both coveted the No. 3 overall pick so they could take Providenceís Kris Dunn." But can they get that deal done without giving up the uber valuable 2017 Nets Swap, or the increasingly interesting Jaylen Brown.

I say no! But, he could put them in position to beat the Cavs. He'd give them a Big Three of Thomas, Horford, and Butler. He is the kind of fierce defender that Ainge likes, and the kind of shooter (20 PPG) that Stevens has been looking for this off season. He would also add a certain meanness that this team is lacking. However, the Bulls where looking at all three Nets picks plus some of the Celtics young veterans. Also, with LaBron finding his meanness in Game Five of the Finals and Durant finding his Dream Team, should we really be looking to win now? 

Okafor is a more likely trade, as they have to get rid of him. The Celtics have a ton of 1st Round talent they could give the Sixers. They need a point guard. Rozier has shown he can handle the point a little, and show some spark last year. He has been great down in Utah. Plus, his jumper looked much improved in Summer League. The Celtics could give up other first round picks like Hunter and even Yabusele (to give Simmons someone to play SF when he is at PF, or stretch-4 when he is the point forward) if need be (though it would hurt me). And add a veteran like Crowder to make it all work. That would improve the Sixers at multiple positions, and give Simmons some shooters to kick it to.

The problem is that Brown's stock soared every time he exploded off the floor and took it strong to the rim. "Walter always has a saying. Anytime somebody gets a step heíll just yell it out 'On Yo Head,'" Shrewsberry said. "It happens. I heard it a couple of times on the bench. Jaylen gets a step and he can just take off. Heís done it a few times in practice that heís made those plays really aggressively. Itís great to have that energy. Getting to the free throw line, just getting to the basket aggressively. He puts a lot of pressure not just on the defense, but the refs also to call a foul. He shot so many free throws, you didnít notice that he didnít make a field goal, because he was getting to the line and scoring points. Heís great to have, fun to have, to keep getting him ready for the season." The Celtics are simply no longer able to mentally trade Brown, even for Butler. They also cannot trade the 2017 Swap under any circumstance. But (no!). Maybe (no). The 2018 picks could help lure Butler to the Celts (noooooo).

Defense Wins Championships.

By Tom Mahoney

They chose the young player over the veteran, much to the chagrin from the negative nabobs of trolling twit-land. Browns offers a ton of talent. He can drive to hole like a young LaBron James. And not just power dunk righty like James, but thunder dunk lefty as well. That is such an elite talent for a young kid to have. But he does not just use his young James like body on the offensive side. He is also a great man defender. He is a better defender now than James was at the same age. You have to have guys who can play defense in the NBA if you want to win.

Brown can be a shut down guy on the D-end like Jimmy Butler. "Everyone is so focused on the offensive side of the ball," Isaiah Thomas said (the HOFer, not the Celtic). "There are very few players that I have run into who are as gifted as he is athletically and offensively. He wants to learn to play defense and be a great defender." That means that he is almost already an elite player half the time he is on the court. Plus, he already is a top two transition player from this Draft.

If you want to win Championships you have to be elite defensively. It has always been so. When the Celtics say they think Brown can be developed into an elite defender that is the talk of Champions. "We feel that heís got the physique and the competitive drive, and motor skills, and really important: the character and the intelligence [to be elite]," Wyc said. "He's a very, very smart guy. Iím really impressed with Jaylen, A to Z, and Iím looking forward to having him in Celtic green. I think itís the right move for our team at this time and our future." He has LaBron like potential on the defensive end. Meaning he can make plays physically on defense that less than 2 or 3 percent of the players in the NBA can make. 

So when twits laugh at Brown's potential on defense as a BIG reason to draft him, like it's a joke, it makes my balls ache. It's like no one just watched the Celtics lose to the Hawks, because the Hawk's were a better veteran defensive team. It's like no one watched the Finals this year. Both those series went to the team that was clearly the better defensive team. Both games where decided by switches, rotations, and great individual defensive plays. I hate when twits don't understand the beauty of basketball.

Right now the best player in the world is LaBron. He just beat a team that was on the verge of being considered the best single season team ever. They were the best shooting team ever. So how did the Cavs win against such an offensive juggernaut? They won with defense. The Cavs were down 3 to 1, and two thing happened. First, the Cavs could not defend the Warriors spread offense. Then suddenly they figured it out. They made some brilliant "defensive" adjustments, and shut the best offense in the NBA down defensively. Which was something that everyone thought was impossible up to that point. They create the game plan to stop all this 3-point shooting nonsense.

Second, the Warriors lost Bogut. His contribution to the offense was virtually nil. However, he was literally their entire interior defense. He controlled the paint, like a true rim protector. When LaBron drove into the paint, he suddenly had to make another adjustment to avoid Bogut. It was really hurt his scoring. When Bogut went out, the Warriors could no longer play defense in the paint. The Cavs exploited that, especially Kyrie Irving, by driving and scoring layups. 

Plus, the defining play of the series was LaBron's superhuman bock of Iguodala on a fastbreak, on a basket that could have changed the outcome of the game. The definitive play of this years Finals was a defensive play. When did you know the Cavs were going to win that game? I knew, and I think most people with basketball smarts knew, was when LaBron made that game changing block.

Brown has the physical talent to play defense like LaBron did in the Playoffs this year. Now he has a long way to go to make a play like that, LaBron was a twelve year veteran. The rookie James would not have been able to make that play either. This idea a 19-year old is all that he will ever be is maddening. Now, young James had some obvious stuff that Brown doesn't have now. Brown showed a little that an offense could run through him early in the season last year at Cal. The 19 year old James showed such elite passing skills, basketball smarts, and court vision on a level that Brown has not shown yet. Brown is much more book smart than young James was. He has to turn those book smarts into basketball smarts. 

I know in this bold new world of fantasy everything, defense is lost to more and more self proclaimed experts every year as stat guys practice their addition and division of numbers, yay. Only, and I think this has become the forgotten fact of not just basketball but all of sports, when your on the court you are playing defense half the time. That is a fact of team sports. It shocks me to hear how many people don't seem to understand that. 

Surely you've noticed how much defense played into the Celtics Playoffs last season. They essentially lost to Atlanta in the Playoffs, because the Hawks overwhelmed them on defense in the first two games, and of course the final game as well. The Celtics got back into the series when they started overwhelming the Hawks on defense. And the Hawk got back into the series when they started overwhelming the Celtics on defense again.

I don't mean to come off as arrogant (maybe a little preachy), but there is a reason why "defense wins Championships" is one of the oldest and most truthful sayings about team sports. Like when the Celtics played the Cavs in the Playoffs two years ago, they scared Cleveland with their defense. "We're not done here. [Brad] Stevens is damn smart. He's coming at us with something new. So we better be ready," Kyrie Irving said. "We all agreed, 'Man, this guy is limiting us. He's making it tough on our actions. Every single possession matters to him." It was the Celtics defense that scared the Cavs two years ago not their offense. "We knew he'd come back with an adjustment he hoped would change the series, and he did," LaBron said. "He hit us with all sorts of wrinkles we'd never seen." The Cavs made the adjustments to the Celtics defensive adjustments and won the series. The Warriors didn't make the adjustments to the Cavs defensive adjustments and lost three straight elimination games.

One of the reasons MJ was the best player in world when he played, and some say they best player ever, is because he was not only dominate on the offensive end, he was the best defender in the NBA when he played as well. He was as fierce a defensive player who ever played the game. You win with defense, just ask the Hawks how they beat the Celtics. They beat us with defense.

My philosophy of basketball is "if you can't rebound, you can't win." What I mean by rebounding is not just grabbing a missed shot off the rim. It is also about playing defense well enough to help cause the miss. Getting into defensive position to affect the shot, and then boxing out and grabbing the rebound. Rebounding is not the beginning. Rebounding is the culmination of great defense, positioning, heart and hustle. My philosophy of rebounding is how the Hawks beat the Celtics in the Playoffs. It is how the Cavs beat the Warriors to win the Championship, and why veterans always beat young kids in the NBA.

So when the Celtics say that Brown is a great defender, they mean that as a means to a win. "[He has] great athleticism," Ainge said. "[It's] sort of the vogue, the new type of player in the NBA: a versatile wing, who can play multiple positions defensively, and we think he has a lot of upside. We think that heís a 19-year-old kid that can get out on the court and play with the big boys right out of the gate, and those are rare." He is an NBA caliber defender right now. He can make the switches that the Cavs were making against the Warriors, like when LaBron kept being forced to switch onto Curry, and then stuffed him.

When a coach, like Brad Stevens is talking about a player's versatility, he is talking about the ability to defend multiple positions, or do you think a two-guard shoots the ball differently than a small forward? "Iím strong enough to guard the big guys, and have enough heart to lock them down," Brown said. "The way the NBA is going forward with versatility and everybody being able to play multiple positions, Iíll fit right in." Danny may have had final say, but Brad Stevens loved this kid to death, defensively.

Ask any successful coach in any team sport and they will inevitably start raving about defense. Because defense is harder. "Basketball is like war in that offensive weapons are developed first," Red said. "And it always takes a while for the defense to catch up." They know every time a player steps on the court he will be playing defense half the time. "Before you're ever critical, constructively, of your team, I think you have to say, 'Am I putting my team in the best position to be successful offensively and defensively?'" Krzyzewski said. "And I'm constantly working on that." When you have a player who can cover LaBron and then switch off on the power forward and/or the point guard and shut them down than you have something very special.

You have to be mean on the court, especially on defense to win. "The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot," Bill Russell said. "You got to have the killer instinct. If you do not have it, forget about basketball and go into social psychology or something. If you sometimes wonder if you've got it, you ain't got it. No pussycats, please." Russell lead the Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years, and did it with defense and rebounding. 

And he didn't just play against the best who ever played (Wilt Chamberlain averaged over 50 PPG for one full season), he played against all-star teams designed just to beat him. "A rebounder, or a shot-blocker for that matter, is always at a disadvantage if he tells himself the only way he can succeed is by out jumping the guy next to him. Sometimes he will have to, but most of the time he will not. Most of my rebounds came from positioning, where I was able to get the ball while in heavy traffic," Russell said, then went on to talk about Wilt. "After I played him for the first time, I said 'Let's see. He's four or five inches taller. He's 40 or 50 pounds heavier. His vertical leap is at least as good as mine. He can get up and down the floor as well as I can. And he's smart. The real problem with all this is I have to show up." But Wilt only beat Bill once, when he was playing with a bum shoulder in 67 and shouldn't have been on the court. Because while Wilt was the best offensive player who ever lived, Russell was the best defensive player who ever lived. 

Wilt was the best offensive player in the NBA every year Bill played against him, but Russell was the best defensive player in the world every time they played in the Playoffs (except in 67 when he could lift his arm up). Curry was the best offensive player in the NBA last year, but LaBron was the best defensive player in the Finals last year. The Celtics had the best offensive player on the floor against Atlanta this year, but the Hawk's had the better team defense.

Last season the Celtics didn't have the players to fully execute Stevens switching defense. They had to rotate guys too much. "We weren't able to switch a whole lot last year early on," coach Stevens said. "Because we knew that we had that logjam of Bigs. So we really tried to honed in on creating a very system rotation based defense. And it was very good for us. But I think you need to be as versatile as you can [on defense]. And you need to be able to do that [rotate], and you need to be able to switch if need be. Because against the very best, the less you can be in rotations the better. So the more guys that can do it [switch off on different position players] the better. And all the guys you mentioned can guard multiple positions. There are couple of other guys sitting up there [Yabusele and Zizic] who can do that too." All coaches judge their players by defense as well.

Jaylen has the body (size and quick twitch) to switch and cover players from LaBron to Irving. "The defensive versatility that travels right now," Stevens said about Brown. "I mean, that's the one thing that [that really matter]. You know, most of the last four teams were switching quite a bit. The ability for someone to be able to match up with LaBron for a couple on minutes, and then also keep up, from a footwork stand point, with a guy like Kyrie [is really important to winning]. And their's other teams that have guys that are that hard to match up with [defensively]. Than, those are really important guys [who can switch successfully against bigger and smaller guys]. There are not many guys who can do that." The Celtics just got one.  

Brown has already made positive impressions, defensively, on all-star caliber shooters. "It feels good" Brown said about Butler's shout out. "Me and Jimmy, we kind of have the same mentality. I met him in Chicago for the first time at the NBA combine, and we have the same trainer, and [their trainer] said we have similar work ethics. So he wanted to see for himself. So [he] cut his vacation short, got in the gym with me, we worked out, and then we ended up playing one-on-one, and we ended up being in there an extra hour. We ended up going tooth and nail at it. So Jimmy is a great worker, and itís an extraordinary compliment from someone like that." It takes a great worker to be great on defense.

A 19-year is never at the peek of his shooting, unless he stops shooting reps. "From what I've seen in the early stage of this [Brown's mechanics shooting], this is going to be [about] reps, and it's gonna come quick. I have not lost sleep over his shooting, by any means," Stevens said, and then went back to defense. "Sometimes you have to weigh having a guy who can not only be serviceable defensively, but great defensively. With his [shooting] percentages. So maybe a guys not a 40% 3-point shooter, But maybe he's 35 and a great defender. You gotta weigh some of that, as you know. But you have to be able to shoot it at a minimum level to draw the defenses attention." 33% is that level. 33% from Three is the level where the 3-point shots becomes as statically efficient as shooting 50% for Two

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Continuing on the defensive theme, the more I think about it the more I see the Celtics giving a Max deal to Horford, who certainly isn't worth that money offensively. "As we continue to move forward it is clear that we've got some really good players who have become a part of this, we've gotta address some needs in free agency with regard to putting the ball in the basket," Stevens said, and then switch to defense again. "And maybe some size needs obviously. That's something that we'll have to discuss. But we've gotten more versatile [on defense], and we've gotten a little more athletic and those things should help us." Horford instantly improves their defense and rebounding.

He is going to be paid more than he is worth, but veterans who can play defense, rebound, and maybe shoot a little win Playoff games. I don't know much, but I do know that if Horford were on the Celtics last year instead of the Hawks, the Celtics win that series easily, and maybe even beat Toronto. And with Brown and Horford on the Playoff roster next year, they are the second best team in the East (if Durant isn't in Miami). And if Durant and Horford are on the Celtics roster next year, they can challenge the Cavs to come out of the East.

There's A New Kid In Town.

By Tom Mahoney

We learned a lot about the Celtics last night. They are going with the long term plan and not the exciting short term plan. We were all expecting them to trade a bunch of nickels for a quarter, and get that star to instantly propel them to a Championship. They didn't do that.

I keep coming back to the Celtics top four needs: shooting (no), rebounding (no), rim protector (a little), and star power (maybe). Brown clearly has star potential. He has a LaBron-like body already. He has a bigger and more athletic body than Pierce had when he came out of Kansas. When LaBron came out he was a high flying freak, just like Brown is now. LaBron had an NBA ready body out of high school, and so does Brown now. 

Like LaBron physically, Brown is beast who is a great one on one defender. LaBron was a much better basketball player than Brown was when he came out. But physically they share a lot of similarities. Now I'm talking about James when he was a rookie, before he became "LaBron". He was a physical marvel who a lot of NBA vets couldn't match up with already. He was an 18-year kid, Brown is 19, who already had the body of all-star NBA veteran, like Jimmy Butler.

Fans wanted the big splash trade, like for Jimmy, that we were all but promised to make the Celtics an instant conten-dah. They booed the mighty Wyc to the melody of "we want Jimmy" echoing through the Garden. "We had trade talks all day, but we did not make a trade," Wyc said. They had a deal with Da-Bulls all set to go, but they wanted Three, Bradley, and Crowder. The Celtics wanted to add some star power to their young vets, not to redistribute their wealth of fun young vets around the League. Plus, did they really want to trade Jaylen Brown?

Jaylen had a little one-on-one grudge match with Jimmy (who he was almost traded for) at the Combine. "Me and Jimmy, we kind of have the same mentality," Brown said. "I met him in Chicago for the first time at the NBA Combine and we have the same trainer, and he [their trainer] said we have similar work ethics. So he wanted to see for himself. He cut his vacation short, got in the gym with me. We worked out, and then we ended up playing 1-on-1 and we ended up being in there an extra hour. We ended up going tooth and nail at it. So Jimmy is a great worker and it's an extraordinary compliment from someone like that." The story goes that Jaylen stuffed Jimmy defensively in the first game.

Jimmy really has made his mark in the NBA with grit, hard work, and a killer mentality. "I like Jaylen Brown," Butler said. "He's tough. Like, he's strong. I played against him 1-on-1 over the summer. I was in jeans, to tell you the truth. He literally... he really does remind me of myself. That's what's crazy. When I was going up against him, I was like that's crazy. Like, he can move his feet. He's athletic. He can play." He can play, is a big time tag for a basketball player.  Physically Jaylen already matches up with Jimmy, one of the elite defenders in the NBA.

And some say he even won that little grudge match (and with Jimmy's jeans excuse, you can bet your ass he won the first one at least). "We played to three because I guess he thought it would be easy," Brown said. "And then somebody won the first game (which means me), and he wanted to keep going. And so we kept going after that. Then he won the second. Then he won the third. Then I won the fourth, and we ended up playing all the way to 21." When an NBA vet tries to give the young kid a lesson, and the kid beats him, you want that kid on your team.

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Jaylen was an all world high school recruit who also had brains. He chose Cal, because he wanted to learn and go to class. He took a Graduate class this past year, and did well. "We grew very fond of Jaylen," Ainge said. "He's a great kid; 19 years old who has a man's body, great athleticism, sort of a vogue new type of player in the NBA, of the versatile player, the versatile wings, can play multiple positions, defensively. And we think he has a lot of upside but we think he's a 19-year-old kid that can get on the court and play with the big boys right out of the gate." I always say that basketball is a game of smarts. 

Players who play with their heads up and read opponents and understand their strengths and weakness will always win in the end. Look at LaBron now. The major difference, really the only difference, between LaBron when he was Jaylen's age and now is smarts (and the 20-thousand hours he spent shooting in a gym alone as a young Pro). LaBron always had an elite body, like Jaylen, but it was the basketball smarts he earned in the NBA that made him a Champion.

Jaylen is smart. Book smart. Book smarts and basketball smarts are two different things. He learned to play guitar and studied Spanish, while taking a graduate level class last year. "He is an extremely intelligent kid," an assistant GM said. "He took a graduate school class at Cal in his freshman year. He is a person who is inquisitive about everything. Because he is so smart, it might be intimidating to some teams. He wants to know why you are doing something instead of just doing it. I donít think itís bad, but itís a form of questioning authority. Itís not malicious. He just wants to know what is going on. Old-school coaches donít want guys that question stuff." You start off learning basketball smarts by asking questions about basketball. 

He looked like he had more questions than answers last year. He had more TOs than assists. He often looked like he didn't understand what was going on, on the court. He looked worse at the end of the season, after teams changed strategy against him. They backed off him to stop the drive, and let him shoot. He had no counter moves for their new strategy. No basketball smarts to see and understand what they were doing, and change his strategy to defeat them. 

Then like LaBron as a rookie, he shot 29% from Three last season. Opponents' strategy to make him shoot worked. "He showed us that heís a much better shooter than [he showed at Cal]," Ainge said about the infamous 76 shots. "He shot 38% [from Three], I think, in the high school leagues with the same amount of shots the year before. There's a lot of good shooters that have had bad shooting years and bad freshman years, particularly. Weíre not too concerned about that. We feel like he has a chance to be a good shooter. But he wasnít this year." But it wasn't just the shooting. It was also the lack of basketball smarts to understand the strategy opponents where using and defeat it. 

Not that I worry about a young guys shooting. 3-point shooting is a matter of 20,000 hours of shots in an empty gym for young guys. "A lot of good shooters can have bad shooting years, especially when thatís during their freshman year in college," Ainge said. "We're very fond of Jaylen. He has a man's body, and we think heís the kind of player who can play with the big boys right out of the gate." Physically he can step up and play defense. But we need him to be more than just an elite athlete who can play defense.

Jaylen wants to be great, and he has the physical body to be great. He has the smarts, but just has to turn those book smarts into basketball smarts. And he just needs to put in the work shooting in an empty gym until the lights are turned off, and then shoot some more in the dark. "I feel like nobody else is doing it," Brown said. "I heard stories that Kobe Bryant wakes up at 4 or 5 and heís at the gym at 5:30. Heís fully drenched in sweat by 6:30. He hits the weights after at 8 and then he starts practice at 10 back in the gym. All that Kobe has accomplished has been by a relentless work ethic. Iím a big believer that it takes 20,000 hours to be great. Kobe put in those hours. Iím trying to chase that model. That representation that Kobe laid out for us. He set a great example, and Iím trying to follow." If he follows that example he will be the steal of the Draft.

He also studied chess, which is a good sign. "When I walked into the chess class at Cal," Jaylen said, " the people were looking at me like I was lost and in the wrong class." In the end, Basketball smarts comes down to strategy. Seeing and understand what an opponent is doing, and planning a few moves ahead to defeat him. Just like in chess. 

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Danny Ainge said he was unsure how close he came to a major trade. "I never know how close we are, because ultimately you need another team who is going to agree to do a deal for you," Ainge said. "There was a lot of discussion and no deals. It was just that simple. We pulled away from some, they pulled away from some. I donít think it was a lack of value (in the pick), but to find trade partners in those kind of deals it has to be good for both teams. We just didnít find one. Iím confident we are moving in the right direction. We still have free agency and a lot of money to spend in the free agent market to still build our team." I'm not buying it. 

I think once Jaylen came in and hit 76 out of 100 shots in an empty gym, the price rose too high for another team. Danny had his mind made up. The price was no longer for the 3rd pick, it was for Jaylen Brown. The kid with the LaBron body and jumper. Who just needs to learn what he needs to learn to develop into a star that can power a team in the Playoffs. 

I said before the Draft that when Brad and Danny get together and fall for a player that I could not argue. "There was a lot of discussion over the last couple of months with the No. 3 pick," Ainge said. "And a lot of study and hard work by my staff. We had some, like I said, a lot of discussion and even trading that pick and trading down in the draft and trading for future picks and so forth. Ultimately, there wasnít anything to our liking." When the price for the 3rd pick become more than Okafor and a bag of magic beans than it was obvious that they think Jaylen could a blend of LaBron and Butler.

He has LaBron's body. In fact, he is more built up now than LaBron was at 19. But he also has Butler's scrapper mentality on defense. "We grew very fond of Jaylen," Ainge said. "He's a great kid. A 19 years old who has a manís body, great athleticism. Sort of a vogue new type of player in the NBA: of the versatile player, the versatile wings, can play multiple positions, [and great] defensively. And we think he has a lot of upside. But we think heís a 19-year-old kid that can get on the court and play with the big boys right out of the gate." He is not the player LaBron was at 19, and doesn't have his basketball smarts yet.

Physically he could be a top two or three player in the NBA right now. "It was a tough choice," Ainge said. "There was a lot of good players. Lot of good players at 3. So that was never really done completely [before the Draft]. Thereís a lot of different views, internally, and we went back-and-forth many, many times. But everybody unanimously really liked Brown, as well. There was other guys as well." This pick was about star power. 

The Celtics are lacking the star power that can fuel them through the Playoffs. But they saw a guy with a LaBron-like physicality, with his elite leap and instincts flying to the hoop to dunk. An inquisitive basketball mind that wants to learn about the game, sometimes to his detriment. But Jaylen doesn't have LaBron's passing smarts, and elite ability to give teammates open shots and make them better. But he does have the desire to learn strategy, and studies other basketball greats. He considers his friend Isaiah Thomas (the HOFer not the Celtics) to be his mentor. Defensively he has the smarts to adjust his strategy and win. 

Plus, he is a force of nature going to the hole like LaBron with either hand. Both he and Yabusele are faster on the break that 99% of players in the NBA now, and both also have elite strength. They are unstoppable in the open court. Stevens wants to run, and they just got two of the best open court players in the Draft. It is hard to say there is a better open court player than Simmons, but Jaylen and Yabusele are close. In five years, Jaylen could be the Playoff Killer this team has been looking for since the New Big Three left.

But... They still need a Shooter?

By Tom Mahoney

As a team, the Celtics shot a pathetic 27.5% from three last season. "I was embarrassed by the number," Crowder said. Only the D-League Sixers shot worse in the NBA. "Guys have put in work," Stevens said. "There's no reason for me to believe they wonít shoot it in." They did a great job spacing the floor so I was completely shocked by the stat.

Brad Stevens loves the 3-point shot. "People have figured out that rather than shooting an 18 or 19 footer, it's best to have your range be a couple more feet," Stevens said. "Because over time and in mass those shots are ultimately, you're going to end up scoring at a high rate, they're much more efficient." So one thing they have to fix this off season is their 3-point shooting. 

I mean, their 270-pound power forward was one of their best 3-point shooters at the end of last season. "Maybe this is why I'm not as much an analytics guy as everyone portrays me to be," Stevens said about Jared. "I still believe in him shooting. I've seen him shoot. I believe in his form. I believe in how much he shoots." That just reeks of desperation.

Of course, you don't fix that right away with rookies. "I'm definitely going to improve in that area," Smart said smartly. But it still doesn't hurt to start drafting shooters. Bender fills there two biggest needs right away: rebounding and 3-point shooting. Of course he is the youngest player in the Draft and won't be ready to really show it for a few years. So they need anther pure shooter or two (Hel-looo Kevin). 

Korkmaz has a great stroke from Three. He is a guy, who if he continues to work hard, will be a terrific NBA 3-point shooter in a few years. His stroke is terrific. His form and mechanics are what you look for. The Celtics cannot simply rely on their current shooters, they have to get more. "That is something that I think we can improve with work in the summer," Stevens said. "Certainly you can improve it with roster additions, but I think that all of our guys can improve their numbers, and can raise their shooting profile." Furkan isn't likely to help right away, but he will come off the bench and shoot Threes. 

They know that they have to add shooting at multiple levels this off season to progress in the Playoffs. "We've gotta continue to improve our skill," the HC of the BC said. "We've gotta continue to improve our experience level, decision-making, all that stuff that goes into winning in a game against that level of talent. And we can. I think we will. I'm sure we'll make some roster additions that we think will improve us, but I think the most important thing is continuing to develop this group." The most important thing is to add Durant (by any means necessary).

One thing about drafting Euros is that they can shoot the Three. Don't be shocked if they start stocking up on Euro shooters in the 2nd round as well. They could draft, LOL, five Euro shooters in the 2nd Round and let them battle it out overseas for two or three years. But if Korkmaz or Luwawu is on the Board at 16, they have to grab the Euro shooter. It might not help them as much as we'd like next season, but if we can't swing a big four or five for one deal than he can also stay in turkey and continue to shoot his way into the NBA.

Also, don't be surprised if a different rookie makes a big impact next season. I though Terry Rozier looked like the real deal in limited playing time last season. Improving his 3-point shot could get him some instant minutes next season. "You get out what you put in," Rozier said. "I put in a lot of work shooting 3s. A lot of people said thatís where I was going to struggle and thatís probably my best thing. So itís something Iíve always worked on. Even early on I went to the practice gym and got up a lot of shots with my friends." I thought he look a little quicker and faster than everyone else on the floor when he played. 

He as some serious quick twitch upside. He just to become a better 3-point shooter. "[He] has got to continue to work to improve his shot and do it at the pace of an NBA defense," Stevens said. "And then I think anytime youíre talking about point guards, youíre talking about finishing. And you talk about different, creative finishes around the rim. And he has all the explosiveness in the world. And heís got good touch. And so I think heíll be able to grow in those areas pretty quickly." Which can honestly be said about all the Celtics.

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The Celtics really should go Euro here. They have eight friggin' Draft picks. That is just ridiculous. In fact, they should go Euro with all eight picks if they want to retain more than one player's rights from this Draft. If Korkmaz is still on the Board I think Danny jumps all over him. He could easily play for two more years in Turkey. Then can come over to America as a veteran 20-year old with a killer Jumper.  

The problem is that Danny doesn't draft Euros. Even though he claims that Drazan Petrovic and Kresimir Cosic are "Two of my all-time favorite players and people," Which is swell Danny, but you really need to draft a Euro or five. I think they are preparing to take the 3rd pick, hoping LA makes a mistake, and if not they will gladly take Bender.

But this leaves them a little vulnerable. Butler, Noel, and Okafor could give them a round or two in the Playoffs next year. That lure of instant improvement vs. long term improvements to a Championship level. Does one of these guys make them a legit contender? Butler is not a superstar in the normal sense, but his defense makes him more than just a 20 PPG scorer. But he has some petulance in his personality that can rub people the wrong way. 

Okafor is an enigma. I really liked him in last years Draft. He showed some Duncan like qualities at Duke, but his rebounding and defense were so disappointing that he is out of that class in my mind. But I compared him to Duncan last year. He was the 3rd Pick in a much better Draft. He started off slow at Duke as well. He played primarily on the blocks at Duke, and has to learn to expand his game out while facing the basket, preferable at the angles like Duncan. So his whole offensive game has to change. Defensively he has to learn to use his long arms better to alter shots. He has to be able to average 10 RPG as well. His problem is that he did not look good last season. But can you judge him for his rookie season on the worst run team in the NBA? He has the talent, but he has to adjust his game to the ways the NBA is trending. He was unable to do that last year. 

Noel could be the prize, but he has had trouble overcoming that knee injury. He has developed into a legit NBA rim protector and rebounder. But he still only averaged 10.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 SPG, and 1.7 BPG. Those are not star numbers. He is still only 22-years old. I'm just not sure you can give up the 3rd pick in the Draft for a limited offensively defensive center. Does he have a better shot at leading the Celtics to a championship than Bender or Brown? That is the question Danny has to answer. I say no. 

Simmons Is A True Superstar In Waiting.

By Tom Mahoney

I'm starting this Draft off with a rant. "He is going to be the best basketballer Australia has produced," Ben Simmons former coach in Australia Kevin Goorjian said. "There was a quote that came up that if you get the No. 1 pick and you donít take Simmons you should be fired. Iím totally behind that. He is the No. 1 pick. Itís clear." If you don't think he is the clear cut number one pick than you should be fired.

Contrarians do the same thing every year, sounding like fools, and thinking it makes them sound smarter than everyone else (and yes I know that makes me sound like arrogant boob as well). "He's got a hint of Magic. You know at times, you can see like a younger LeBron where you're not sure what position he is," the HC of 76ers said. "One moment you think he's a 4, maybe he's a 3. He looks comfortable handling the ball. When you say, 'What is your identifiable, NBA elite skill?' most people will go immediately to passing." When a draftnic compares Ben Simmons to Magic and LaBron, we are not comparing him to LaBron now-days. 

We (and other rational draftnics) are not comparing him to the ten year veteran superstar LaBron (I wish I could put make his name flash). He is the best basketball player in the world (Steph Curry is the best shooter in the world. We are comparing him to the 18 year high school kid who entered the 2003 NBA Draft.

We have not seen a 6-9 guy with Simmons' court vision and passing abilities since Magic. "I feel like you said the one that most people come up with first, and it's true," the HC of 76ers Brett Brown said. "You know, he's got a hint of Magic. At times you can see like, a younger LeBron, where you're not sure what position he is. At one moment you think he's a four, maybe he's a three, he looks comfortable handling the ball. When you say what is your 'identifiable NBA elite skill' most people will immediately go to passing." Magic was a skinny kid who looked like he had twigs for arms when he hugged Kareem after they won their first Championship.

LaBron is now a fully developed man with a fully developed game. He was more muscular than any high school player I had ever seen, but he still wasn't close to a fully form adult. Simmons is also very muscular for a 6-10, 19-year old kid. For all those peckerwoods who are annoying me so badly, none of these 18 and 19 year olds are fully developed men. They are kids whose bodies are still far from fully formed. The same can be said for Bender, who is skinnier than Simmons.

Another bag full of ignorant statements that are driving me nuts, is that Simmons can't shot a Three. First off, not everyone in the NBA has to be a great 3-point shooter. And no one who succeeds in the NBA has the same Jumper as a 10-year Vet that they had as a rookie. "I'm just very aware of Ben's situation," Brown said. "I lived in Australia for a long time. I coached his father for five years. I'm aware of his junior coaches throughout Ben's entire life and when you look at his form, no differently to when we drafted Kawhi Leonard with the Spurs. One of the assessments we had to make was 'Was this shot transferable to the NBA? Was it a total rebuild or was it a little bit of a makeover? I think that his form isn't one that you have to blow up and start over. I think it can translate." The easiest thing for a young player to fix is his Jumper, through good coaching and repetition. 

Magic shot 22.6% from Three as a 19-year old rookie coming out of Michigan State, and then promptly cried himself to sleep every night for three years in embarrassment. "You take that collection of comments and you add it into a 6'10" frame," Brown said. "The comparisons to those two players could be a little bit reckless. Could be a little bit ambitious. But there's no denying that he comes to the draft with a very unique skill package." LaBron shot 29% from Three as a rookie, and then tanked the rest of his career in shame.

Michael couldn't hit a Three to save him life as rookie. Like, oh, I don't know Ben Simmons (that was very cathartic, thank you). Another spoon full of ignorance that is killing me is that he can't shoot the Three so he hurts a teams 3-point percentage, or some such nuisance. Have you seen his game? No one in this Draft drives towards the hole, attracts over half the defense, and then kicks it to a teammate for an open Three better than Ben. Did you see the Oklahoma game? He had at least five assists kicking it out to teammates at the 3-point line, in the 1st Half (oh, I feel a Tape coming on). 

What makes Simmons the clear and only Number One pick in this Draft is that he makes his teammates better, no matter how much they suck (and they sucked at LSU. They missed about ten layups in the Oklahoma game alone). "He sets teammates up for scoring opportunities," 76ers GM Colangelo said. "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." That's better. He makes his teammates better defenders. Better shooters. Better in the fast break, and unequivocally better 3-point shooters.

Like LaBron, he might not be the point guard, but he will be the primary ball handier in most situations in the NBA. "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." Like Michael and Kobie, he will be the superstar that the offense works through. 

In today's NBA the stars who win are the guys who are the point forwards or guards who can control the ball in the final two minutes of a game. Like Pierce and Dirk, and in today's game like LaBron, Steph (yes I know he is a real PG), and Paul George. And don't forget the pairs who work together to dominate the 4th quarter: Westbrook and Durant, and Lowry and DeRozan. Simmons is the best point forward of all those guys, except maybe George. Simmons has the ability to average double figures in Assists at a very young age. If he can make clutch shots, he will become the best basketball player in the world.

Note: Simmons is the guy that everyone is looking to criticize. He picks up crap simply for doing what everyone else is doing. Last year, they top three to five players didn't participate in the Combine, but Simmons gets crap. My favorite is that Ingram agreed to go to the Combine and participate, but then refused to do anything. I think that is worse. If you show up, then show up. Not a peep of criticism for that at all, even though I found that to be stranger. I think he just got a free hotel room and that was it. Hield showed up, got measured, but refused to do the athletic measurements. I bet you didn't hear anything about that either. Strange how the press singles guys out for criticism, and other guys they refuse to even mention for doing the same thing, or worse.

Note Two: Can we please put the trade for Kevin Love in the wastebasket. He sucks. He is not what the Celtics need in any way, shape, or form. Let it rest. Just because he does nice interviews with Bill Simmons doesn't mean he can play. His body has broken down, so let it go. However, Nerlens Noel is  a guy they have to think about give up Three for. Philly desperately wants to get Kris Dunn, and would take him at Three if they can work out a deal with the Celtics. 

Bender To The Lakers.

By Tom Mahoney

I'm not saying Bender is a reach at Two. After doing their Tapes, I have to admit I have them tied for second (wimpy, I know). So do they want the Big with vast potential and PG-skills, or the Wing with vast potential and PG-skills "If you look at our depth chart, you can make an argument that we need a player in the frontcourt," Kupchak said. "We need a Big. Jordan is a free agent and weíd like to sign him. DíAngelo, weíre very high on, and we have Lou Williams. I think weíre more set in the backcourt than the frontcourt. Two days after the Lottery, thatís where we are. In six weeks, weíll see." They have much more depth at the wing positions.

There is no doubt that they are going to help the frontcourt in this Draft. But who do they take and where. If they stick here, and feel they need a Big more than a Wing? "I think our backcourt is better than our frontcourt," Kupchak said. "I think we do have to address the frontcourt." That means, "me likely the Dragan very-very much".
If they can trade up for Simmons they would have to think about it. "One is always better than two," Kupchak said. "If youíre one, you can get anybody you want. If youíre two, you can get anybody you want, minus one. Iím not sure thereís as dramatic a cliff as people think between two and three. Any way you look at it, we feel weíll get an excellent player at two." I don't think there is any drop in talent between Bender and Ingram, and Bender is going to be a 7'2"-7'3" guy like Gasol, who also has PG-skills. That sounds like a nice way to start rebuilding your frontcourt.

I mean, both these kids are still 18. But Bender has been living and maturing in another country on his own for two years. He has had a more mature basketball experience over the past two years than Ingram. "Benderís performance for Croatia in the 2014 FIBA U-18 European Championships is instructive," Luke Walton said. "He averaged 4.9 assists, third among all players." When the GM says they need frontcourt help, and the HC talks about a players game is like it is an instructional video than there really is no question who they are taking.

You can say "experience" is Bender's biggest weakness, but it is also Ingram's biggest weakness as he only played one year of college basketball. "Experience, piggybacking off what you mentioned with his age, Bender has gotten limited playing time this year for Maccabi," Chad Ford said about Benders' biggest weakness. "He's averaging 12 minutes per game, but his role is quite limited, especially offensively. Bender's lack of significant development on the court over the past 18 months makes him a bit of a wild card. With Kristaps Porzingis, scouts got to see him play a big role in the best league in Europe before drafting him. Bender is more theory than practice right now. He also needs to get stronger. He's tough and plays really hard, but he'll get pushed around at first in the NBA." Like all 18 and 19 year old rookies.

This idea that any 7-foot tall rookie doesn't look like a freak made of toothpicks is stupid. All 18 and 19 year old 7-footers look emaciated. "That lack of strength shows up a couple of places in Bender's statistics" Kevin Pelton, a stats guy for ESPN said. "His foul rate is astronomical, nearly seven per 36 minutes. And though Bender has been pretty good on the offensive glass, his translated defensive rebound percentage would be poor for a small forward, let alone a 7-foot-1 big man. You're also right about Bender's small role. He's used on 16.9 percent of Maccabi's plays, which translates to a tiny usage rate in the NBA. Lastly, in part because Bender was spacing the floor, he rarely got to the free throw line." Apparently refs don't give rookies any breaks in the Promise Land either.

Stats are for guys who can't see it with their own eyes. But they do come up with some interesting tidbits sometimes. "I think thereís a case to be made that even No. 4 is too low for Bender," Pelton said. "Benderís consensus projection is for 3.5 WARP. Second in this yearís draft behind Ben Simmons. Nobody else is above 3.0, with Brandon Ingram at 2.9. Murray (2.6) and Dunn (2.3) are far below Bender." And yes, WARP is meaningless to me as well. Stats guys like to add up a bunch of stats add an acronym, and pretend they know what it means. So according to the stats that Pelton likes, when you cram them all together Bender is a click better than Ingram. Okay, so I agree with him. But more importantly, apparently so do Kupchak and Walton.

So he is a top two or three player in this Draft. But he doesn't really compare to another player. He was a point guard until he was 15, and still has the handle, eyes, and passing ability of a PG in a 7-2 center's body. He is better than Porzingas in every aspect except as a pure 3-point shooter. "Because Porzingis was a year further along in his development, it's tough to compare the two players at the point they were drafted," Pelton said, then talked in circles until he confused himself. "But if we compare Bender to Porzingis in 2014, when Porzingis was the same age, the comparison is more reasonable, and favorable to Bender. His translated NBA winning percentage [okay you have to read this nonsense: the per-minute component of my wins above replacement player metric, or WARP] is .444. During 2013-14, Porzingis had a translated .389 winning percentage in the Spanish ACB. [He improved to .461 in 2014-15]. As a result, Bender performs slightly better in my WARP projections ;was that warp or warped?]. Which factor in age and projected NBA performance. His 3.4 WARP projection is tied with Clint Capela for the best from a prospect in Europe since Ricky Rubio in 2009 (3.7), just ahead of Jusuf Nurkic (3.3), Porzingis (3.2) and Nikola Jokic (3.1). My SCHOENE projection system has an equally difficult time finding a comp for Bender. Comparing him to NCAA prospects, no player has a similarity score of better than 90 at the same age. Which means there are no easy statistical comps." Doesn't it really mean that Bender is better than all the rest, who scored under 90 while he scored over 90? So all those circles led back to "Ah. Beavis?" And if you had Rubio at 3.7 in your WARP score, and Porzingas at 3.2 than your WARP is clearly warped. Because Porzingas was a much better prospect than Rubio. I hate stats guys (but I say that lovingly).

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Kupchak, Walton, and myself are not alone in our love of the Dragan's game. "Heís a perfect big man in modern NBA offenses and defenses," Chad Ford said.  "Offensively, Bender can stretch the floor. He has above-average court vision and can finish at the rim. If youíre a triple-threat 7-footer who can pass, shoot or drive, there's a place for you in the NBA." I like the triple threat description.

Bender is already a better defender than Porzingas was last year. "Defensively, Bender is even better right now," Ford said. "A versatile 7-footer who can guard multiple positions both on the perimeter and in the paint. He has the physical tools, the basketball skills and the relentless motor to be a Swiss Army knife in the NBA." You don't need to go small ball with him on the floor, because he can play out at the 3-point line and drag the opposing center out of the paint.
Plus, he is the youngest player in the Draft. "As compared to power forwards in the draft, he rates as above average in assist, steal and block rates," Ford said. "In addition to that, itís important to mention Benderís age as a strength. He managed to hold his own in a competitive Israeli league despite starting the season at age 17. Heís the youngest player among your top 100 draft prospects." His experience in Israel, while not pretty, makes him more prepared for the NBA than most of the other freshman rookies.

He can also play power forward and small forward defensively. "Porzingis is a better athlete and shot-blocker and came with much more experience," Ford said. "Bender is arguably a more versatile defender, better shooter and better passer. Most of the international scouts Iíve spoken with think Porzingis is a better prospect, though Bender has his fans." I am really sick and tired of the Porzingas comparisons. They are very different players. The only real comparison is their age and the fact that both look like they will grow into 7-3 sharp shooting freaks.

Okay back to the stats guy. "Beyond the shooting, the versatility you mention stands out in Bender's translated statistics," Belton said. "As compared to power forwards in the draft, he rates as above average in assist, steal and block rates. In fact, his block percentage ranked fourth in the BSL [the Israeli League Bender plays in], and two of the players ahead of him are centers who previously played in the NBA." That sounds like a steal at Two.

Ingram To The Celtics.

By Tom Mahoney

For all you rebooters and rebuilders, there are two ways to do it. One, you get some veteran to speed it up. But it doesn't last long when you do it that way. Two, you get Draft picks. Which adds years to the process, but if done right you end up with three HOFs who spend their entire career on your team. The Celts went with Draft picks.

So to blow it all up again now, when they have three bright shiny Lottery pots o' gold in waiting just seems so stupid to me. "I just think overall we've all got to improve, and any time you have a year like this it becomes even more important that you get better," Stevens said. "Because, I said this going into last year, there wasn't a ton of difference going into the year really between two and 13. Certainly Toronto separated themselves from everybody else below that, but as we go into next year I think that that will probably be pretty similar. Some of the teams that didn't make the playoffs are a couple of breaks away from flipping the script on the rest of us. So you have to get better if you want to stay in the mix." They can grab a young star here, and bring him along slow. 

Then they will have an opportunity to do it again next year when the Draft is much better. "A player that is going to take time to develop or a player that may not come over to the NBA for a year or two, if we really believe that playerís the best player, we have to take him," Ainge said. "We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesnít fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting. We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance. There are just too many examples of really good players that the fans havenít been excited about on draft day." This is not a good Draft. But the next two will be much better. Ingram would just be the first piece in building a championship level team.

So don't be surprised if they don't make a move for a big time veteran. They have a nice young team who can win in the regular season and lose in the Playoffs. They do that for three more years, and pick up a player as talented as Ingram or Bender each year and the take over the East when LaBron retires. That is the most honest truth about this team.

The Celtics are not true contenders. They are not close to being a contender. They are a nice regular season team with some nice young and fun players. But they don't have a single Playoff Killer, never mind three. I think Bradley was the only guy showing signs that he could that Playoff Killer you have to have to be a contender. But he is more a third stone cold Killer than the second stone cold Killer. 

So you green face painters have to take a chill pill. "Right now, weíre trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out," Ainge said. "I guess thatís the best way to put it. We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year. And, at the same time, we want to build something thatís sustainable for a longer period of time." They are in the infancy of building a legit contender, not anywhere near the finish line.

Danny will have to pull off more than one impossible KG trade to make this team a contender next season. "We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesnít fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting," Ainge said. "We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance." Remember last time they had Pierce already. Now they don't have one top three piece (except maybe Bradley if he can get a little more aggressive on offense). 

The problem isn't that they don't have the lure that Paul provided like everyone says. The problem is that they now need three guys not two. They could get three guys in the next three Drafts. Or they could trade for one or two aging guys who can help them win a round or two. But does that really make them contenders? Sure, if they get George and Durant they could be legit contenders, but Kevin Durant is not walking through that door. 

Sure, if they get get George and Butler then they could be a contender. But their three most interesting assets are the three Nets picks. That is going to take three to five years to figure out. "[Pick Three] certainly doesnít have the same cachet in trade conversations, in trying to get better quicker, so that sets that back a little bit," Danny said. "Or weíd have to give up more [in a trade]. I think that there are good players, if we end up using that draft pick. Weíre excited about the potential players." You do not dismiss their potential so casually as to trade them off for a veteran to be named later. 

You have to be careful not over inflate them, but if you want to build a Champ team for 15-years, you have to get three young stars out of those picks. "We're really excited about the guys that we think will be available there," Stevens said. "And so that's been our focus. And again, I am a little bit in catch-up mode in regards to scouting and really looking at the college guys versus the rest of our front office. But that's what I'm doing for a chunk of my day right now is watching the six, seven, eight guys that we think are most likely to be available that we will try to decide from. We'll talk about obviously other options and those type of things as those type of things present themselves, but hey, there's a lot of good players. We're fortunate to be picking as high as we are." They are looking at the most talented prospect they have had a chance to take in a long time.

So again, the primary objective over the next few weeks is patience. "This foundation we have is very unique in the world we live in: pressure packed, public world in pro sports," Ainge said. "The fact we have such great unity with ownership I think is unique. I value that premium. Itís a great working environment, I have a great relationship here, stronger trust, year in and year out. As we work together I believe great things will happen in Celtics history." So he has the time to sort out the three Nets picks, and he will take it.

The 3rd Pick in the Draft Just Got A Lot More Interesting.

By Tom Mahoney

The Celtics find themselves in another quandary. You know Danny wants to trade the third pick for a veteran to help them in the playoffs next year. And there are some interesting options like: George, Noel, Butler, and Cousins. But are any of them transcendent players. I think George is, if not for his knee. If he is sound he can be a transcendent player. They need a stone cold Playoff killer to help them win at least one series next year.

However, can they trade the 3rd pick in the Draft before they know what picks One and Two are? "Right now our talent level is not good enough to contend for a playoff position," Kupchak said. "It's just not," It was the decision these guys made over the past few years that have propelled their Franchise into position to get top two picks. If I'm a betting man, I'd have to say mistakes will be made.

We are talking about the current Philly and Laker management? "The number one challenge this offseason is to improve the talent level," Kupchak said. "I'd like to get to the point where our team plays exciting basketball and there's growth. Not so much day to day, but week to week, and as the season goes on you build some excitement and hope for the future." They have done nothing but tear their teams down for the past few years with their decisions, and now are expected to suddenly start making the correct decisions.

Are they capable of making decisions that start building a winner? "Our players are going to get better, the ones we have," Kupchak said. "And I think, even if we don't improve the team, which certainly we intend to do, and you just add marginal talent, I think we'll be better." All evidence to the contrary. They need a sudden and violent influx of talent to become contenders again. To say otherwise is simply irrational.

What teams do over the next month in the Draft will affect their Franchises for a decade. "A lot depends on the players that we bring in this summer if we are lucky enough to bring in players," Kupchak said. "Maybe we can contend for a playoff spot, and maybe we can do much better than that. But I do want to get to the point where we feel our team is fun to watch, exciting to watch, and people say 'you know something, that team is going to be even better next year.'" I'm not sure I would trust the guy who said that.

Meanwhile, the Sixers are busy trying to propagate that it was all worth it. All the mismanagement and bad decisions was "worth it" to get in position to take Simmons or Ingram. "We talk a lot about 'process', not outcome," Hinkie said. "And about trying to consistently take all the best information you can and make consistently good decisions." When you keep desperately trying to trade the players you just drafted a year or two earlier than the "process" is broken and your decision making ability is broken as well. 

You have to hear this to believe it. "I want to be very clear, this is not about a departure from a 'process', a departure from a strategy, this is moving forward with everything that has already been established, everything that is in place," the new GM incomprehensively bragged. "We're going to be measured in our continued building of the organization." They picked Moultrie and trade him. They picked MCW, and then trade him for a Lakers 1st, and also lost out on Brandon Knight in the process. You can't make this broken crap up. What about Elfrid Payton. The lists goes on and on. 

They picked Holiday and trade him for Noel, and now are looking to trade Noel. Their "process" could not be more broken. Literally, their "process" has been to: earn a Lottery pick through incompetence, pick a player, and then sell him off to the lowest bidder. Anyone who wants to continue that "process" is by definition insane. When you keep getting Lottery picks, and then trading the player a year or two later, you're calling your incompetent "process" broken beyond repair. The idea that they are now shopping their Lottery picks from last year and the year before means that anyone who says the "process" is working has a broken brain. 

All the trades the Sixers have made around Draft time have been epic fails. Yet they want to continue the "process". "I do think it's been a success," Colangelo said. "We're at a jumping off point now where the organization is poised to take a major leap forward because of what's transpired over this last few years, of what I'm going to call a measured rebuilding process. When we move forward, you're going to be excited about the pieces that come to the table, because there's been a 'process' involved. Everyone knows about it, everyone talks about it. It's led to the results and led to this platform that we can now move forward with." That's the scariest thing I've ever heard. The "process" has robbed and is robbing the Sixers of everything except a one-footed center.

The incompetence of their "process" is so staggeringly brutal that is almost makes me feel sorry for Sixers fans. Almost, LOL. "My predecessor, Sam Hinkie [failed so epically that he reminds me of Dr. Frankenstein. No, I mean], has done a nice job of establishing the assets and resources to move forward in a positive way," Colangelo somehow said without crying. "I'm sorry that Sam won't be a part of that, it was intended all along that he would. The organization is poised to take a major leap forward because of what's happened. The fact that he put the effort forth, he deserves credit for it. It's not going to sit well with everybody, but the people that understand what was involved and where we are now, I think we're excited about that.... This may be one of the best jobs in basketball right now." Now the guy who made up the "process" finally got fired, and the new guy wants to continue the hinky "process" that got Hinkie fired so ignominiously?

The more you look at the Lakers and Philly the more it looks like mistakes will be made. And you have to say both their "processes" are broken. Word on the street in Philly is that they love-love-love Dunn, but they think Simmons is the transcendent player in the Draft. He is the transcendent player in this Draft. That is their quandary. They have to take Simmons 1st, but how do they screw up that pick with their hinky "process". They think Dunn is the best player who can help their team right now. I mean, after trading four point guards that they picked in the 1st round in the past four years it is not surprising that they are desperate for a point guard.

Word on the street in LA is that more than one exec thinks Bender is a transcendent player. They are gearing themselves up to pick Bender. Which also does make more sense for them than Ingram. They have the two guards Russell and Clarkson who they like. They have Randle inside, and getting another Big who can swing and step outside would work very well with Randle. Physical, and a lot of his driving and inside game reminds me a ton more of Pau Gasol than Porzingas. If Bender does grow to 7-2 or 7-3 he could be a Pau Gasol with a nasty 3-point shot, and a much better passer and ball handler.

So can the Celtics trade Three when it looks like two of the three worst run Franchises picking in front of them are looking like they want to give them the gift of Brandon Ingram. Ingram is a different cat, like Simons. But he was well schooled at Duke. He needs to be motivated sometimes by the coach, but he responds well to coaching. I know this is blasphemous in Boston, but his game reminds me a lot of Bird's. He doesn't have Bird's nearly psychotic competitiveness, and all consuming need to win. But he is just 18-years old.

He has similar mechanics on his Jumper as Larry. He puts his right foot forward, and shoots 3/4ers with his right arm forward, and snaps his wrist nicely. Larry loved to set up on the right angle. Ingram set up more on the left angle at Duke, like KG, but beyond the arc like Larry. Plus, Larry had to use up fakes, jab steps, and head and shoulder side fakes to get a step on the defender to drive to the hole. Ingram has a similar first step as Larry and needs to use fakes, and pin guys on the opposite side of his body as his dribble to drive. Larry had to use a variety a release points to get his shot off when driving, and Ingram more uses his incredible length than Larry, but also has to release the ball in multiple ways to score off the dribble. 

Larry average about 10 boards and 5 to 7 assists a game. Ingram is a great rebounder who can cover PFs and rebound off his defense. He also played a little PG, and can be the guy the offense runs through, like Larry, and could average 5 to 7 assist per game. There are a ton of other little things, like they both will play the big Small Forward position in NBA, and pass over other SF to their teammates. Not the swiftest of feet. Ingram shot 40% from Three in college (mostly form the Angle and Baseline). Ingram uses up fakes off his Three point shooting. He is a hit the Three, and drive off his shooting scorer in college. Both could post as well in college. 

But I'll say it again. Ingram is not the stone cold killer that Larry was mentally. In fact, Larry is epitome of my term "stone cold playoff killer". He wasn't just the epitome, he has the model. He was the basketball player I watch who showed me how important mental toughness was in basketball. Now Larry wasn't a Stone cold Playoff killer at 18, he was a  garbage collector. Ingram needed to be pushed and prodded by Coach K (my dyslexia forbids me from spelling Krzyzewski). That is troubling. However, Larry became a stone cold killer late in college at Indiana State. He only lead his team to the NCAA Champ game when he was a 23 year old Senior. 

Ingram will be a four year veteran when he is a 23 year old Senior. I always say that basketball is a man's game. And not to insult women too much, I mean it as it is a grown mans game. Kids can have fun playing basketball, but the true game is played by adults. When the body still works, and the mind has matured enough to see all of its' vast and glorious beauty. The problem with the NBA Draft is that the top players are still kids. Which offers vast potential, but also a mental cliff they can easily fall off of. Simmons, Bender, and Ingram hold the most upside in this Draft. But they are kids coming into a grown man's League.

So these odd and interesting words on the streets just made pick Three a whole lot more valuable. If you want Three, which could turn into Ingram or the hottest rising stock in the Draft the Dragan, you better not try to under cut Danny. Philly's "process" is looking for a way to ruin the Ben Simmons pick. LA is looking lovingly overseas. While the Celtics are sitting at Three smiling like the Cheshire Cat. So why not help the team above the Celts screw it all up. 

The Celtics have to call Philly and get the 1st pick. It should be impossible with Brett Brown as their HC. But if they want Dunn badly enough and don't want to put Simons on the floor with Noel and Okafor, than there is an opportunity. Philly isn't just rebooting (again), they are crash and burn rebuilding. You start with all eight pick in this year's Draft, and Avery Bradley. And listen, I'm a Bradley guy. I would only put him in a trade him for Simmons. Bradley is a clutch NBA shooter, who looked like he was turning into a Playoff killer shooter. Plus he is a lock down defender. So I don't say trade Bradley easily. In fact, I don't think you trade him for anything.

Except of course a transcendent player. You trade anything and everything to get your greasy hands on a transcendent player or two, or should I say a Playoff Killer or two. Philly needs guards in the worst way possible. This trade gives them Dunn as their rookie Point, and Bradley as their Playoff killing shooter at SG, to help Dunn transition to the NBA. It allows them to keep their Twin Towers. So maybe all this rhetoric about the "process" won't sound so reverberatingly stupid. Plus, they'll have seven other picks that they might be able to turn into three or four rotation guys if they get lucky. 

I know it seems as far fetched as... I don't know... LA passing on Ingram for Bender. But it looks like that is going to happen. If that is the only way Philly can be assured to add Dunn to their team than they have to think about it. There is the best pure talent, and then there is the best player for your team. Dunn is clearly the player the Sixers need the most in this Draft, team wise. He fits their most desperate need, what the HC wants to do, and is the player who adds the most wins next year. GMs can look at the long haul, but coaches need to win now.

Which circles us back to the Celtics. Philly is maybe at worse 95% likely to take Simmons. But you can say that LA might be 50/50 on the Ingram/Bender dilemma. Both are still 18. I think they are the two youngest players in the Draft, but certainly the youngest players in the top twenty-three. Both have tremendous upside that could help a team for 15 years. Bender has more upside because of his elite length and point guard skills. While Ingram has more upside because he has shown it in the clutch at Duke. The Third pick in the Draft just got a whole lot more interesting.

Part V: Dragan Bender

By Tom Mahoney

He is the next best thing to Porzingis. "It's fine for me to be compared to Porzingis," Bender said. "He's doing really good this season. Basically itís perfect for every European guy coming to the states. Especially for a big guy. I am really happy that he's having this amazing season. I did play against Porzingis. It was a junior tournament in Barcelona, a Euro-league tournament. I was playing with guys that were born in 1995, so two years older, with my brother. It was a pretty competitive game. It was really nice. At that point he was also a really good player, with an outside shot and a mid-range jumper. We have a lot of similar stuff in our game. We can both shoot from 3-point range, we can lead the break, we can pass the ball, we can defend multiple positions. He has a lot more experience than I do, playing in Europe and in the NBA." Porzingas and Bender are part of the new Euro invasion.

The new Euros are steeped in the great Euro fundamentals, but they also are athletic enough to match up with American players. "I think for someone his size he moves really well," James Weldon an Irish coach said. "Bender has a good understanding of the game. He can shoot the Three to stretch the defense and open up low post isolation for a center. For me, and most of the coaches I talk to, the two most important spots on the floor now for any team are the 1 and 4 so to see someone with his talent coming on the scene is exciting." The earlier invasion had guys who could shoot Threes like maniacs, but struggle with the athleticism you need to play in the NBA.

He is not the pure shooter that Porzingis was coming out of Europe, but he has a much more rounded game. "I'm trying to be a complete player," Bender said. "To play outside or inside. Whatever the coach needs me to play. But I like to play a little face up from the three point line or from my back to the basket. In Croatia, some coaches see the talent in the player willing to play with the ball from the outside." He is a better rebounder.

He is also a better passer and more athletic than Porzingis. "I'm trying to build up muscle but also not to lose speed or agility, for sure," Bender said. "I'm going step by step, really. We did a great job this summer. It's really great. Also, the nutrition program is really great. I'm doing everything from the program to build muscle from the legs to the tops, it's been great so far." He also is a much better man defender. He has better quickness on defense than Porzingis. He is so agile and gets great lift from a standing rebounding position, and goes up and gets the ball from every angle.

He is a whirlwind on defense. Terrific fundamentals, and hyper feet and hands make him an interesting active defender. He plays above the rim on defense as well. He can block the shot of much bulkier offensive players with great aggression and timing. He can challenge a shot at the elbow by a guard off the pick and roll, and then go down the lane and block the shot of the big who got the rebound. He is so active on defense.

He is much better inside than Porzingis. But Porzingis is now listed at 7-3. Which makes you wonder how much growing Bender still has to do? He is the youngest player in the Draft. Terrific speed in the open court. He has so much growing to do physically. He is terrific, for a 7-footer, going to the hoop. He has great length, which he uses to go up over everyone and grab the ball.

He plays against crappy competition, and can grab the rebound and go end to end without anyone getting in his way. He needs to get stronger, and will often tip the ball to teammates when he is being boxed out. The bad news is that he gets trapped down low by box outs a lot, the good news is that he has such great length and leap that he jumps up over everyone even when he is out of position. Plus, he has gotten stronger and better at getting out of box outs this season.

His jumper is a little slow, but the release point is as high as it gets. When he has to rush it do to pressure he will lose a little accuracy. But with his ability to drive with either hand, it really cannot be defended. If you overplay the jumper, he can be long striding past you with interesting quickness. Plus, he has a good feel for guys moving in the wrong direction and driving to the other side. And when he drives right he has a great little hook-shot pass that he zings over to the other big in perfect position for a freebie. He is light and slight, but he is also rough and tough. He has no trouble banging with the bigger guys this season, and he will take a beating and keep coming.

He can one-dribble to the left and knock down the jumper. That is a tough shot for a righty Big. He is a typical Euro Big in that he has a great handle. He is so deeply steeped in fundamentals that he has no trouble rebounding and bringing it up over half court, and even going coast to coast and passing it or dunking it.

He can catch the low pass in the post, bring it up quick through contact, and shot it off the glass easily against the competition he is playing against in Tel Aviv. He has no trouble shooting over two Bigs in the post with his right hand. He has a nice feel for when to use his left or right hand to shoot in the post. He will shoot it with his right moving to the right from the left post when the defense over plays his left.

He dropped the ball a lot last season, but his hands are much stronger and much more reliable this year. He has clearly gained weight and strength this past off season. "This summer, I was off of the national team so I came home to Split and I tried to do a lot on the physical part [weights], and also on the shooting part," Bender said. "Because these two things are going to help me get minutes on the court. I tried to improve my defense with all the rotations. On the ball, off the ball. It's good, [the off season] helped me a lot. So I'm looking forward to starting a new season." His added weight, height, and strength really showed this season.

He was listed at 6-10, and is now listed at 7-1, and has not lost any of his agility. "When you step onto the court, its either 100 percent or itís zero," Bender said. "I did put a lot of work in the weight room, but I tried not to lose agility. Itís important for me not to lose all those things, to keep my quickness and speed. I am definitely not in a rush with the physical part. I am in a rush with all these fundamental things. I know that this physical part will come with the years and the extra work, with food supplements and food programs. Those things are going to come, I am focused on these little things, these little details in my game." In fact, he looks more agile with the added strength in his legs. That is a huge difference in his NBA potential.

He does a great job hustling to the rebound, when he is standing out at the 3-point line. You just don't see 7-footers consistently doing that. "When I was a kid I was trying to look like Toni Kukoc, trying to play like him," Bender said. "But now that he's retired and everything, I'm watching the guys in the NBA like Dirk Nowitzki and Nikola Mirotic (much better rebounders). Dirk is a famous NBA player and he's playing like a stretch-four like me. Like I want to. Mirotic came last year to the NBA, so I try to look at how he adjusted to the league." He has great movement skills. He is not the pure shooter that Dirk is, but he has been shooting Threes better this year.

His first three shots a month ago against "Spurs at the Pavilion" (whatever that means) he hit three straight threes to start the game. One from each baseline, and the third straight on. Then he was smart enough to up fake and drive left to the hoop. This kid plays much smarter than his age would indicate.

He is so active on the boards. "To become NBA-ready I need to improve all the things in my game and try to put them on a higher level. Try to put them on an NBA level," Bender said. "It's really hard to achieve those levels, but I'm really working hard to do it. Those little things are separating me from those players playing in the NBA." Plays bigger and stronger this year. He certainly looks like he is 7-1 now.

He is the clear third best player in the Draft. "The kid is simply special," a Tel Aviv coach said. "I've never been around someone that age with that kind of character. He's not afraid of anything or anyone." He is a string bean who is going to need some time to develop. He could be an interesting option for the Celtics. He could also be an interesting option they could stash for a year in Tel Aviv to save a roster spot for another of their 20 Draft picks. Of course the Celtics would likely want to get him to town to start working with Brad Stevens as soon as possible.

He has turned this Draft into a three player Draft with his great work ethic and growth this off season. So if the Celts win the Lottery, but get the Bronze, there is a guy they can work into Stevens' system. The thing about the top three players in this Draft is that all are smart, good passers, and team players. They all fit perfectly into Steven's system. But after these three guys there is a big drop off. There are four or five players who may or may not be stars, but are unlikely to become the top dog. Maybe a Scottie Pippen, but more likely the 3rd dog. 

The best player in college basketball, in February, has been the newly formed Michigan State point guard Denzel Valentine, but he is a Senior. As a shooting guard he is in the 20s. As a PG prospect I might take him fourth, or he could go in the Teens. After that you have three guys who could be Pippens: Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, and Jamal Murray. Some would include Hield from OK ST. Then a group of Bigs who could help teams with some stars on the roster.

Part IV: Brandon Ingram

By Tom Mahoney

Ingram is another anomaly like Simmons. He has some similar skills as Magic as well. IN THIS RESPECT, he has been playing Power Forward on defense, and being the primary ball handler in the clutch. Like Magic was the PG for Michigan St, and often played the center in their 2-3 zone. He plays mostly on the Wing on offense, and is also a terrific wing defender who uses his 9'3" standing reach to harass jump shooters.

He is averaging 20.6 PPG and 8.3 RPG per 40-minutes. "In a normal draft year, Ingram would be a terrific No. 1 pick," a GM said. "If we win the lottery, I think weíd take Simmons. But weíd seriously consider Ingram. He could be a monster on both ends of the floor in time." He could be averaging double-doubles by Tournament time.

The fact that he is still just 18 and a year (I think 14 moths) younger than Simmons is incredible. He is up to 2.3 Assist and 1 tick below 2 blocks per game (per 40-minutes as well, which is not a stat I particularly like because it doesn't really quantify fatigue). He is becoming a more and more efficient scorer, shooting 53% from Two, and 41% from Three.

But maybe the most important thing is that he is steadily putting on weigh to his rail thin body. "I couldnít take my eyes off him," a scout said. "He does so many things in a variety of ways and I was pleased to see the weight he gained since the McDonaldís All-American Game." He has to get stronger to play in the NBA.

What he did in the UNC game was phenomenal. "Well, we talked to our guys at the half, and Brandon didnít have a rebound in the first half," coach Krzyzewski said. "He is our best defensive rebounder so the last 10 minutes of the game we got every rebound and that was key." He ended up with 10 rebounds in that game, all in the 2nd half. Which was one of the deciding factors in that game. Remember, all rebounding starts with defense.

He is a guy who takes tough coaching. "I was definitely aware of that. I didnít grab rebounds [in the 1st half against UNC]," Ingram said. "I was letting Marshall do all the dirty work, so Coach got on me a little bit. I had to go back and get some boards." This is a guy with point guard skills and one of the top two scores on the team, embarrassed that he was working hard enough on the boards and defense.

Once UNC went up eight points, Ingram calmly drove to the basket. "Iím always in his ear, always telling him to keep shooting because I donít know what heís thinking about," Grayson Allen said when asked about Brandon. "I'm always in his ear telling him to keep attacking. I mean, we really look to him to create. So we want to do that the whole game. We don't care if he misses seven, eight shots in a row. We want him to keep trying and keep attacking." All the while in the final two minutes playing in the Paint covering the power forward down low. He blocked the PF shot in the paint, with 50-second on the clock and Duke up One. In the final possession he was in the paint covering Johnson, who had 19-rebounds. When the UNC player had his shot blocked, Ingram kept the PF on his back and tipped the rebound to Grayson to seal the win.

He not only had one of the biggest baskets in the game, he also had two game saving plays on defense. "These kids have gotten so close," Krzyzewski said. "They've done an incredible job. At one time we had four freshmen and a sophomore out there. To have the toughness that they displayed with that youth is incredible." He has become one of the top players in the clutch in college basketball.

I have seen Ben Simmons do everything on the basketball court I need to see, except that last second clutch shot. Ingram has shown that he can be the man in the final two minutes of a game. When I think superstar, I think of a guy who can score, or help score, 6 to 10 points in the final two minutes of a game consistently. He finished with 20 point and 10 rebounds.

He is still over a year younger than Simmons. "Thereís a lot of pressure on him, not just here," Krzyzewski said. "He's 18, and heís not ready to be who he will be. He's pretty darn good. He's also good enough not to let not hitting affect him. There's a toughness element with that, you know like, 'it's not going to be my night. No, I'm going to work through it,' but he really gave us a stretch there that was incredible." Plus, his length is other worldly. He should be over 6-10 and have the standing reach of a lot of NBA centers by the time he is done growing.

In an odd development, after both Ingram and Simmons had great games against rivals earlier in the week, they both looked terrible on Saturday (against Louisville and Tennessee). Simmons got in trouble and didn't start, and looked terrible in the 1st half (but he still ended up with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists). "We had to address some academic stuff with him earlier in the week," LSU HC Johnny Jones said "This is just one of the attention getters for him. We're hopeful that this will help get him focused and concentrated on what he should be doing." Its funny how easy it is to forget that these behemoths are still just kids sometimes.

Ingram struggled all game with turnovers (10), and only garnered 8 points, 2 assist, and 5 rebounds. He had more turnovers than points. The Louisville defense crushed Duke all game and they lost. You have to remember that he is just an 18-year old kid, and how he matures into a man is as important to his NBA potential as anything. He was given physical gifts that go incredible past most of us, but he is still just a kid.

Both he and Simmons have to learn what it is to be men, as much as NBA players, to become the superstars their physical gifts say they will become. They have frighteningly interesting similarities to some of the greatest NBA players ever. Both will be defined by how they grow mentally, while everyone will measure them by how they grow physically. It is such an odd reality of scouting these kids. At this point, their body will mature naturally into NBA players, physically. But for both it is all about how they mature mentally, and how mentally tough they can become while still playing a team game. That is why more of these young great physical talents fail than for any other reason. Yet it is the least concern amongst Draftnics.

Part 1:Trade who?

By Tom Mahoney

I have been watching NFL tape it seems 24-7 since the East West Shrine game. Now it's time to take a little break. The Celtics are in one of the top positions in the NBA right now. They are a top three team in the East (yes with no chance of winning it all). But they also have the two all important Lottery Picks coming up. When teams are rebuilding they need those top picks, so they have to fail-fail-fail. However because of the two Net's picks, the Celtics can win-win-win, and fall back on the Lottery picks to get the Superstar (or stars) you have to have to win it all.

What makes this so special is that instead of developing losing players to tank into the lottery, they are developing winning players who are so fun to watch that I started watching every game again. "We want to win basketball games and we want to win playoff games," Danny Ainge said "We do have a lot of players and we're hoping to play a lot of games this year. We're hoping to get to the playoffs, those are our goals. We're hoping to play 100 games this year, and you need a full roster." You have to at least watch the 4th quarter of theses games. And all the winning doesn't hurt them at all. Well, maybe a little. Having two lottery picks is still better than one.

Now the problem is that they are over-asseted (if that is indeed a word) again. All their picks and tricks are meaningless, other than they are lottery tickets, in the sense that sometimes when the stars aligned properly stars are drafted outside the Lottery. They need to convert some of their good assets into one great asset, and as long as the hold onto those two Lottery picks, they cannot get ripped off.

Which also brings up Danny's current problem. Everyone wants to make a trade with the Celtics! But they want to start at one of the Nets' Lottery picks, and end with both. But Danny cannot part with either one in any, way, shape, or form, "We value [the Nets pick]," Danny said. "Even the chance,,, Even a small chance to get a very talented player is worth [it], because you have some chance. And you can't just give up a chance to get a really good player unless [it is] for another really good player. It would have to be, certainly, a very good player. And also it probably wouldn't be someone in their 30s. That would have to be a good young player because again, even if we had a 5 percent or a 10 percent or a 15 percent chance at one of the top picks in the draft, that's worth keeping." Unless it is for a young top ten NBA player. And who is going to give up that? For a chance at a player who has a chance to become a young top ten player?

Because teams with a top five player in the NBA win it all. Those two picks have a solid chance to win an NBA top ten player that you can have on your team for 15 years. No one is giving the Celtics a top ten NBA player for the Nets picks. And you cannot give it up for less than a top ten player.

So they are untradeable (if that is indeed a word). "Sure," Ainge said (agreeing that untradeable is indeed a word). "The Brooklyn pick could be had for the right [king's ransom]. It's going to be a costly price, as it would be for some of our best players. Look, we're not looking to trade the Brooklyn pick. But at the same time, I could certainly see some things that we would do for the Brooklyn pick. And they wouldn't be taking risks." They would be for a young player who is closer to turning into a top ten NBA player than Simmons or Ingram.

Which brings up more problems for the other GMs. How do they go to their Owner say we're trading a top starter to the Celtic for a bag of magic beans, and still didn't get the one of the two Nets magic gifts from heaven. Those two assets, while having a chance to propel the Celtics Franchise to another level in five or six years, severely hurt them in the short term.

Despite the fact that the Celtics are so much fun to watch, you give up any group of players on the roster to get that one guy. Even if it sabotages their Playoff hopes this season. Because their greatest Playoff hopes, this season, are getting to the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavs. Then LaBron breaks a leg so they can win. They cannot get to the finals if LaBron is not broken. They cannot win it all unless the Warriors have three players break their legs in the Finals. They are using this season to get their current young players (Smart), some Playoff battle tested experience.

If they can get to the Eastern Conference Finals, that is three rounds of Playoff wars for the young kids to learn what the NBA is all about. It is not about resting stars. It is not about stars not playing back to backs. It is not about veterans taking nights off. It is about spending every asset you have in the Regular season to get ready for the Playoffs. The teams that get themselves in position to do that, and do it right, will meet in the Finals.

The addition of Simmons or Brandon Ingram with that Playoff experience (by: Smart, Sullinger, Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, and even Thomas, Turner, Bradley, and Johnson) makes them perennial Playoff contenders until they have a top five NBA player. Plus, the experience this team can garner by winning a round or two would make all those players better NBA Playoff players. Just that experience alone makes them a better contender in 2017. And with Simmons or Ingram could make them a Finals caliber team in two, three or four years, instead of five or six.

 

Part II: Love 'Em, But He's Not A Superstar.

By Tom Mahoney

But there is trouble in paradise. The Celtics have to keep the chance of getting a top three pick in this draft, and next years Draft. Even though it really is a small chance. Right now the Nets are in 3rd place as the worst team in the League, which gives the Celtics a 42.6% chance of snagging a top three pick.

A big man like Drummond is a safer bet by far. Granted, he is a nutbag, and there is a 50-50 chance that he destroys the great chemistry of this team. And nutbags never really stop being nutbags, especially when they wear cartoon socks. So the Tobias Harris deal was a good one for the Celts.

I'm not a Kevin Love guy. I don't like his defense. But, if you can't rebound you can't win. However, he is not a superstar. He is a very good player who was not even an all star this year. He is averaging 15.7 PPG and 10.8 RPG. I love the rebounds, but you cannot call a guy a superstar who is not averaging at least over 20 PPG. And maybe the number is 25 PPG. He has not even helped a team to a championship, or even close. He was knocked out of his 4th career Playoff game. You cannot call a guy a superstar who has played less than four playoff games.

Never mind the fact that they were against the Celtics and he acted like a little bitch when he got knocked out. "I thought It was a bush league play," Love said after Olynyk ripped his arm out of its socket. "I was out there and Olynyk was in a compromised position with no chance to get the ball, and it's just too bad that he would go to those lengths to take somebody out the game and do that to someone. I have no doubt in my mind that he did that on purpose." Funny how Smith punching Crowder in the face was an accident, but Olynyk holding Love's arm so awkwardly that it resulted in a freak accident that no one could have envisioned, but that was on purpose.

With that being said, he is a veteran rebounder who would help them win in the Playoffs, maybe, if he can play well in the Playoffs, which he hasnít proven yet. Plus as you know, I love passes. My favorite guys are guys who are great passers, like Ben Simmons. Love is the best outlet passer in the NBA. They can certainly use his rebounding and 3-point shooting. Plus I love hookers. Love has one of the best jump-hooks in the NBA. That alone makes me like this trade. Just please, for reality sake, don't call him a superstar. A star maybe, but he is not close to earning the superstar moniker yet.

I am also not a big Al Horford fan. But he is big, tough, and can rebound. He is fierce inside, if a little undersized. But what is most important is that he is not just a veteran, but a Playoff veteran. In many ways, he is the one thing the Celtics are seriously lacking. But he is not a superstar either.

So the Celtics could end up with one or both veteran power forwards (that's how over-asseted they are), and that would cause a lot of problems for their opponents in the Playoffs. I'm not a huge fan of either, but getting a couple of veteran Bigs can do nothing but help this team. But most important of all, is that they hold onto their two Lottery tickets (the NBA lottery picks, not the one in a million shots). Anything Danny does at the trade deadline to improve the team, pales in comparison to getting Simmons or Ingram. They are the key to the next Championship. They have the potential to be transcendent players. The Celtics have almost a 42.6% chance of shooting up the charts into finals contention within the next three or four years. Simmons and Ingram are that good. Love and/or Horford can only help one of them lead the Celts to 18.

Part III: From Magic to LaBron.

By Tom Mahoney

I don't trade any shot at getting Ben Simmons. "You really have to hang on to even the smallest of percentages of picks that could turn into a transcendent player," Ainge said. "Because transcendent players are so hard to find and acquire." Simmons is the closest thing to a lock transcendent player since Anthony Davis, and maybe even LaBron.

A 13.8% chance for Simmons is better than acquiring any player linked to the Celts this offseason. "There's obviously a lot that I don't want to touch, more than others," Ainge said. "Realistically, until we get to a point where weíre competing for a championship, we canít have a mentality that we wonít listen to every conversation and every idea." I'd rather have that lottery Pick than Blake Griffin.

Simmons is a beautiful basketball player. He is one of the best passers in college basketball I have ever seen. He is the best non-PG passer I have seen in college basketball. I have been comparing him to Magic. He is a better pure athlete than Magic, but Magic was a pure PG, and a better athlete with the ball in his hands (or rather dribbling the ball). And I don't say that casually. No one hated Magic more than me in his wars with Larry. But in the end I had to give him my begrudging respect, because he was so damn good. So I do not say he has as much potential as Magic when he came out of Michigan State as a 19-year old sophomore lightly at all. 

He is taking over more and more point guard duties for LSU, which is just incredible for a freshman who never did it before. "I thought in the open floor Ben did a great job of getting the guys and putting them on their heels," his HC Johnny Jones said. "He was able to push the basketball and get inside their defense, get to the rim and made plays. He actually got fouled enough tonight to shoot 11 free throws." He not only is LSU's best scorer, he is the best passer, rebounder, and shot blocker. That is incredible for a 19-year old kid who is still a Freshman.

He is an old school basketball player who excels at the basketball subtleties that wins games. "I think Ben has a really great basketball IQ," Jones said. "I think he played the game the way itís supposed to be played. He doesnít force action. I think heís always very aggressive and he looks for opportunities for his teammates." He is the best college passer I have seen, who passes his teammates open, since Jason Kidd at Cal.

I love guys who can pass. And for a 6-8 ambidextrous power forward, he is a beautiful passer. He makes all his teammates better with his beautiful passing skills alone. "Our plan was really to crowd the lane, flood the lane, and put everybody to sink and clog it up, and not let him get going with his penetration," North Carolina ST HC Mark Gottfried said. "What happened was he's so tall and he's such a great passer that a lot of times he skipped it to the corners and they made some threes. It's almost like you've got to pick your poison a little bit." He has more ways to beat an opponent than any other player in college basketball, and he is barely a freshman.

In his first two games he barely shot. He dominated those games passing and on the boards. And I wondered if he was aggressive enough to be a superstar. A superstar has to be able to get his shot whenever he wants it. However, what made him an instant star in my eyes was when he started driving to set up shots for his teammates. That is incredible skill and understanding of the game for such a young kid.

But it sure looked like he was struggling to score. "Youíd like to see him take over a little more," a scout said. "He wants to set up his teammates which is good. But there are times when he should create for himself." Which he started doing. He settled down a little by game three, and soon started scoring whenever he wanted to. He still was passing teammates open, rebounding, and playing great defense, but he also was moving to spots to set up his shots.

He can get to the hole with either hand and shoot with either hand, which is more than you could say for Magic and LaBron when they came out. He is a freakish quick and explosive athlete, who often plays too under control. But sometimes he shows his great suddenness. He has a similar build to Magic and LaBron when they came out. He is also a great defender, and I think could cover a lot of NBA point guards if he needed to. Or play the point forward to help his team go bigger. Or play the stretch four to help his team go smaller. Plus, he might just be able to play some point-center to help his team go real fast. And he is real fast in the open court.

Plus, he has some of the best rebounding instincts that I have ever seen. The ball seems to bounce to him over and over again like he has magnets in his hands, and that simply doesn't happen by accident. "He's a very unique player," Marquette HC Wojciechowski said. "Because of his size, athleticism and his ability to handle the ball he is unique." He is the best prospect I have seen since Labron, and the more I watch him the more I think he is as much a can't miss transcendent player as LaBron when he came out of high school. He sees the game like Magic. He passes teammates open like Jason Kidd. He scores and rebounds like LaBron. And he is still only 19-years old.

His only real weakness is his outside shot. That will take of itself with a guy who obviously works as hard as he does at his game. Plus, Magic had as ugly a shot as an NBA Superstar has ever had early in his career. He made himself not just a good shooter, but a great clutch shooter. LaBron was also a terrible shooter when he came out of High school. MJ was a terrible 3-point shooter when he came out of North Carolina, and made himself into as clutch a 3-point shooter as has ever played. Shooting is repetition.

 

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me:

patsfanmock12@yahoo.com

 

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