Big week for Ainge as he learns more about prospects

Big week for Ainge as he learns more about prospects
May 13, 2014, 4:00 pm
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BOSTON — Danny Ainge will be among the dozens of NBA executives listening intently this week to college and international players explain their games, extoll their strengths and exude various levels of confidence during interviews at the NBA draft combine.

And yes, Ainge will be among the onlookers during player workouts as well.

But the combine's impact on draft hopefuls isn't quite what it used to be.

This isn't the 2000 combine where Jamal Crawford wowed NBA executives to where the two-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year catapulted himself from a borderline first-round pick into the No. 8 pick overall.

There's very little that will happen this week that will create anything remotely close to a seismic shift in the order of next month's NBA draft.

"This is part of the process," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told "It's important, but there's quite a few things that you look at when you're trying to figure out who you want to draft. But yeah, this is part of what you consider."

Holding a pair of first-round picks, the No. 17 overall selection and another that has a 10.3 percent chance of being No. 1 overall, there's the opportunity for the Celtics to wind up with a pair of players who can make an impact immediately.

There's always a high degree of care and discussion among the Celtics' brass about players leading up to the draft.

But even with a pair of picks relatively high in the draft, those talks won't increase or decrease because of their draft position.

"There's a lot of good players out there and it's our job to know who they are and find out which ones would fit best with our team," Ainge said. "That's not any different now than it has been in the past with our team."

But the one wrinkle with this draft that adds another element of uncertainty to the draft process, is the ages of the top prospects.

"Plenty of players in the draft now are so much younger," Ainge said.

The Big Three in this year's draft - Duke's Jabari Parker and Kansas' tandem of Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins - are all teenagers after leaving college following their freshman year.

More now than ever, teams must factor in what draft hopefuls did in high school and on the AAU circuit as well as whatever they accomplished in college.

"Players are younger, but it still comes down to doing your homework," said one league official. "Old, young players. It doesn't matter. That's always going to be there."