Digging the Draft

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Digging the Draft

The excitement. The drama. The picks. The trades. The genius. The idiocy. The uncomfortable interviews. The hilarious entourages. The gut-wrenching Green Room. The suits designed by Stevie Wonder on LSD. My God, the UPSIDE!

Ladies and gents, its the NBA Draft. And if youre a sports fan, theres nothing like it.

Its not drawn out over four Chris Berman-burdened days like in the NFL. Its not jam-packed with hundreds of high schoolers who will never make it or wont be heard from for years like in baseball and hockey. Its one night, two rounds, 60 players all looking to make an immediate impact. All ready to realize a lifelong dream, and change the course of their lives and this game as we know it.

OK, maybe thats an overstatement, but who cares? Especially since for the first time in a long time, Celtics fans dont have to live vicariously through the excitement of others.

Lets face it: Its been a while since weve had reason to get excited about the draft here in Boston. That's what happens when you have great teams, with few needs and crappy draft positions; when the immediate future of your franchise is already set in stone.

But this year is different. Regardless of what happens with Kevin Garnett, the future of the Celtics is cloudier than it's been since Draft Day 2007. Sure, the page hasn't entirely turned on this era of excellence (although KG could change that), but it's getting close. Throw in Boston's two first rounds picks and a draft class that's deeper than Michael Sweetney's belly button, and we're all expecting the Celtics to make some noise.

How, and with whom? Your guess is as good as mine. You've heard the same names, watched the same highlights and scoured the same mock drafts: Royce White. Jared Sullinger. Andrew Nicholson. Terrence Jones. Fab Melo. Quincy Miller. Jared Cunningham. Tyler Zeller (Oooh! I like that kid, says every Celtics fan over 45). Acie Earl. Joe Forte. They're all on the Celtics radar. They all might help in some way, shape or form. Then again, they all might be off the board by the time Celtics pick. In a way, that takes some of the wind out of our sails. But on the other hand, it just adds to excitement.

That as much as you and I and everyone outside of the Celtics war room will spend the next eight hours trying to makes sense of what might happen, we just don't know. And on top of that, the Celtics don't know either. They can fall in love with as many players as they want. They can make promises or not make promises or build a high-speed bus to cruise Royce White around the country. No matter who the Celtics want, if one of 17 teams Houston, NO and Portland all have multiple picks before Boston want him first than the C's are SOL. It's a scary proposition, but creates so much anticipation. It will leave us at home, on the couch, remote in hand, slamming on the fast-forward button, just begging for a way to make it all happen faster.

And then there are trades. We haven't even talked about trades! With the Celtics there will always be trades, or at least rumors of trades. When you consider Danny's pension for wheeling and dealing, and Doc's proven reluctance to rely on younger players, there's nothing close to a guarantee that the Celtics stay where they are in the draft. Adrian Wojnarowski is already reporting that Boston's aggressively trying to move up into the lottery and turn the potential for two quality young players into one big time baller. And the reports won't stop there. We'll be hearing rumors right up until the moment David Stern creeps up to the podium for the 22nd time.

It's going to be chaos.

It's going be awesome.

Despite months of preparation, and weeks of speculation, for two-plus hours we'll watch the Celtics future unfold, unscripted and in real time. No doubt the results will leave us talking to tomorrow, and will be felt for years to come.

It's the NBA Draft. It's time to get excited.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Anthony: Despite trade whispers, 'I'm committed' to staying with Knicks

Anthony: Despite trade whispers, 'I'm committed' to staying with Knicks

BOSTON -- When most of Carmelo Anthony’s elite NBA brethren were looking for max-money deals with the flexibility to bounce to another team from one year to the next, the perennial All-Star signed a five-year, $124 million deal in 2014, which was one of the many ways he showed that he’s all-in on being a New York Knick. 
 
And as the Knicks continue to drop one game after another, 'Melo once again finds himself having to answer questions as to whether he wants to be in New York for the long haul. 
 
He acknowledged prior to tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics that he recently met with Phil Jackson, New York’s president of basketball operations. He declined to talk specifics about the meeting, but he was asked whether he felt a need to reiterate his commitment to a Knicks team that finds itself -- for now at least -- on the outside of the playoff picture. 
 
”I think it was just a . . . yeah, I mean, I'm committed,” he said after the team’s shootaround this morning prior to tonight's Celtics-Knicks game. “I don't have to prove that to anybody. I don't think I have to prove that to anybody. I don’t think I have to keep saying that. I don't think I have to keep talking about that. I know for a fact people know that; people see that. And right now my focus is on playing ball and staying with these guys. Because a lot of these guys have never dealt with all of this stuff before. Especially being in a market like New York and dealing with the articles and everybody has a different opinion on different situations. So a lot of these guys have never dealt with that. So for me it's just, it's all about being there. Moreso than ever right now during this time for them.”
  
Since he arrived via (forced) traded from Denver, 'Melo has seen his share of ups and downs in New York -- probably more downs in terms of the team’s success.
 
But even with that familiarity, Anthony acknowledged that this season’s problems do have a different feel than previous ones. 
 
“I've had this a couple times over the past couple seasons so I kinda know what this feeling is like,” Anthony said. “I think now it's a little bit different being the fact that the guys we have on this team, the talent level that's on this team, and for us to still kinda be losing these games, close games, non-close games . . . that's a different feeling.”
 
New York traded for Derrick Rose, a former league MVP, and signed Joakim Noah via free agency. 
 
With those former Bulls, coupled with Anthony and an emerging star in Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks were expected to provide a nucleus for success that would position them to be a playoff contender. The season is still young, but they've have been one of the bigger disappointments in the NBA this season. 
 
After a 16-13 start, their slide began with a Christmas Day loss to Boston that put them in a tailspin that they’re still trying to play their way out of. They come into tonight’s game having lost 11 of their last 13 games and sit six games below .500 at 18-24.
 
And as far as Anthony's future with the Knicks, if he leaves it will be his decision. 
 
But he's maintained -- throughout the peaks and valleys in his time with the Knicks -- that he has no desire to play for any other franchise, which is why the no-trade he has is so important. 
 
Simply put, he ain’t leaving New York unless he wants to. 
 
“I think as players you always want to protect yourself,” Anthony said. “I didn't think it would get to this point, but I think as a player if you can get that (no-trade clause), you have a right to protect yourself and take care of yourself when it comes to that. It's very hard to get . . . So, I have it and that's that.”

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

BOSTON – It has been well-established that the Celtics are a three-point shooting, bombs away kind of team and nothing seems like it’ll deter them from continuing along that path.
 
But as we prepare for the second half of the season, beginning tonight against the New York Knicks, we come to realize Boston’s launching of 3-pointers isn’t just unusually high.
 
This group of Celtics rank among the league's all-time leaders in 3-point attempts by the halfway mark of the season.

And when you look at the company they’re keeping when it comes to 3-point shooting, it speaks to how important it has become in this NBA to have as many long-range shooting threats on the floor as possible if you're trying to win at a high level.
 
Boston’s 494 3-point attempts thus far this season ranks fourth all-time by the halfway point of a season. But this season, that’s just good enough to be third behind Houston and Golden State with 617 and 505 three-point attempts, respectively.
 
The other team in the top four all-time is last season's Golden State squad, which took 519 three-pointers by the midway point of the season.
 
And all those 3’s by the Celtics have included an NBA-record six straight games in which they made at least 15 3-pointers.
 
That has allowed the Celtics to score at least 100 points in 15 consecutive games, the franchise’s longest such streak since they reached the 100-point plateau in 19 straight games in 1991.
 
Of course Isaiah Thomas’ 3-point shooting stands out, particularly when you see how dominant he has been this season in the fourth quarter with a league-best 10.1 points per game.
 
But his offense, while potent, is aided heavily by the shot-making snipers coach Brad Stevens surrounds him with on a nightly basis.
 
That’s why you didn’t see Stevens or president of basketball operations Danny Ainge freak out earlier this season when the Celtics were struggling.
 
Kelly Olynyk, who shot better than 40 percent on 3’s a year ago, was still on the mend after offseason shoulder surgery.
 
Jae Crowder, whose 3-point shooting has steadily improved throughout his career, had some minor injuries that set him back and maybe more important, didn’t allow him to get into the kind of shooting rhythm we see now which has allowed him to shoot a team-best 42.6 percent on 3’s.
 
Al Horford, Thomas, Amir Johnson … they all missed some time due to injuries this season, which has impacted the team’s chemistry and timing.
 
But the past couple of weeks have seen the Celtics healthier than they’ve been most of this season, and it has allowed them to play with the kind of space they want which has allowed Thomas and his cohorts to take lots of lightly contested to open 3’s most of this season.
 
“We’ve got pretty good shooters on this team where you’ve got to pick your poison,” Thomas said. “We’re shooting at a high level, and I got to say, you just have to pick your poison who you want to stop and my job is just to make the right play each and every time down.”