Moore hopes to have bigger role with Celts next season

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Moore hopes to have bigger role with Celts next season

BOSTON Having joined such a veteran team, there were plenty of role models for E'Twaun Moore to look up to in his rookie season with the Boston Celtics.

But among them, second-year guard Avery Bradley is the one he wants to emulate.

Bradley did what no other young player could do in recent years -- unseat a member of the Big Three (Ray Allen) in the starting lineup.

Moore doesn't anticipate his stock to rise to the level of being a starter next season, but he does believe that he can have a bigger -- a much bigger -- role than the one he had as a rookie.

And if he's looking for a blueprint on how to do it, he has to look no further than Bradley.

"It's definitely a good thing to know that if you work hard, and make the most of your chances to play, good things will happen," Moore told CSNNE.com. "I feel pretty good about my chances next year."

Moore added, "I've learned a lot from all these guys, Avery included. But we're all players here. We all want to win. We all want to play, too."

He'll get that opportunity next month when the Celtics field teams in both NBA-sponsored summer leagues in Las Vegas and Orlando.

They will serve as opportunities for Moore to not just play, but prove he's worth keeping around in Boston.

As a late second-round pick in last year's NBA draft, Moore signed a two-year deal with only the first year being guaranteed. The second year won't become guaranteed until after summer league.

More than aware of his uncertain status, Moore refuses to put any added pressure on himself.

That's not all that surprising when you consider how he has come across to his teammates and coaches.

"Very confident," C's coach Doc Rivers used in describing Moore. "But not cocky. He feels he's good enough to be here, he belongs and he's not shy about letting you know. That's a good thing."

Added Paul Pierce: "He's one of the best shooters on the team. He's going to be a really solid player in this league, in time."

Like most young NBA players, Moore needs to improve in all facets of his game. But his lack of playing time was dealt a blow before he showed up for his first practice.

With the league starting later because of the lockout, players such as Moore did not have a summer league to play in. And once the season started, developing young players in many ways was put on the back-burner because there were so many other logistical challenges and hurdles all teams had to work around.

"It was a really tough year for our young guys, all young guys in the league, actually," Rivers said. "And when you don't really practice that much, it makes it even tougher to really see their improvement."

But during the early stages of this shortened season, Moore showed flashes of being someone who could contribute immediately.

Despite a shortened preseason with no summer league, Moore had moments early in the season in which he showed considerable promise.

His career-high of 16 points against Orlando on Jan. 26 could not have come at a better time.

Boston trailed by as many as 27 points in the first half of that game before a 91-83 comeback win.

Moore's 16 points included a go-ahead 3-pointer (79-76) in the fourth quarter, the kind of big shot that Moore has no hesitation about taking.

"We have a lot of guys on our team who are confident about themselves and what they can do," Moore said. "Like I said earlier, I feel good about my game and what I can do on the floor when I get an opportunity. It's just a matter of me continuing to work hard, and just be ready when my number is called."

Just like his role model, Avery Bradley.

Blakely: No. 1 pick isn’t necessarily the road to title contention

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Blakely: No. 1 pick isn’t necessarily the road to title contention

BOSTON – Celtics fans are slowly but surely getting over the disappointment of the team not landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft lottery earlier this month.
 
As cool as that would have been, the conference finals serve as a reminder that while having the top pick can be a good thing, most teams have to take a different route when it comes to getting on track towards and NBA title.
 
Of the four remaining teams in the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the only one that has truly been elevated to their current lofty status courtesy of landing the number one overall pick (first with LeBron James back in 2003 and more recently with Kyrie Irving in 2011).
 
That means the rest of the remaining field built their way up into an NBA power relying on a combination of making wise draft picks and shrewd additions via free agency and trades.
 
So much of that has to do with leverage, something the Celtics have plenty of on all three fronts.
 
They have the potential to free up enough salary cap space to sign a pair of max players, a first for this franchise. Boston also has eight draft picks in next month’s draft (three in the first round, five in the second), the most of any team leading up to the draft since it went to a two-round system in 1989.
 
Those picks plus a roster full of really good but not great talent, gives them the kind of ammunition to pull the trigger on a trade that could add that much-needed All-Star caliber talent.
 
But it’s like a high school chemistry experiment as the Celtics try to figure out the right combinations to avoid having it all blow up in their face.
 
For now, the emphasis has to be on the June 23 draft.
 
A big part of that planning process involves figuring out what to do with the No. 3 pick, the highest selection the Celtics have had since they took Jeff Green (and traded him that night) with the fifth overall selection in 2007.
 
If the Celtics keep the pick, it will certainly bring about some controversy regardless of who they select.
 
By taking Dragan Bender of Croatia, the Celtics will be selecting the youngest player in the draft (he turns 19 in November) who may take years to develop into a legitimate contributor.
 
Selecting Providence College’s Kris Dunn, arguably the best perimeter defender in this draft, seems a bit redundant considering all the guards Boston has under contract whose strengths are essentially the same as Dunn’s.
 
Buddy Hield of Oklahoma is another option. He’s the best shooter in this draft, but doesn’t provide much other than scoring. Is that really worthy of a No. 3 overall pick?
 
Regardless of who the Celtics take with the No. 3 pick (and that’s assuming they keep it and not trade it away which is indeed an option), one thing we know for sure.
 
History tells us that if the Celtics keep the pick, he will wind up being a pretty good player.
 
In the past 20 years, the No. 1 overall pick has produced 12 All-Stars.
 
Among top six picks in that same span of time, the No. 3 selection has generated the second-highest number of All-Stars (8), while the No. 2, 4, 5 and 6 picks each had five All-Stars.
 
That’s important to note because the need to have multiple All-Stars is paramount to a team’s chances at making a deep playoff run.
 
Take a look at the four remaining teams.
 
There’s the defending champion Golden State Warriors, whose roster includes a quartet of current (Stephen Curry; Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) and former All-Stars (Andre Iguodala).
 
Cleveland’s roster includes a similar breakdown of recent (LeBron James; Kyrie Irving; Kevin Love) and not-so-recent (Mo Williams) All-Stars.
 
And then there’s Oklahoma City (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook) and Toronto (Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan) who each have a pair of All-Stars.
 
For Boston, the team's lone All-Star is Isaiah Thomas, who knows all too well that he can’t carry this team to a deep, meaningful playoff run without getting some All-Star caliber help.

The top two picks in this year’s draft – Duke’s Brandon Ingram and LSU’s Ben Simmons – are head and shoulders above the rest of the draft class, but the Celtics are in a good spot if you’re talking about adding a key piece to a potential title contender. 

Report: Ainge in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender

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Report: Ainge in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his son, Austin Ainge, the team’s director of player personnel, will be in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender, the potential No. 3 pick in the draft, the Boston Herald reported. 

Bender, a 7-foot-1, 18-year-old from Croatia, won’t be playing in games this weekend but will be practicing for Maccabi Tel Aviv.  Bender is a bench player for Maccabi, averaging 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds. Still, his size and potential to develop  have him projected to go as high as No. 3.

Here’s CSN’s scouting report of Bender.

Danny Ainge was in Croatia earlier this week scouting 6-11 Ante Zizic. 

 

Report: 76ers look to deal Okafor or Noel in draft trade

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Report: 76ers look to deal Okafor or Noel in draft trade

There’s a high likelihood the Philadelphia 76ers will trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel in connection with the June 23 draft, in which the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, ESPN’s Chad Ford reported.

The Celtics, who have the No. 3 pick, have been rumored to be willing to part with it in a deal that includes Okafor.

Ford said in an interview with Philadelphia-area radio station ESPN 97.3:

You will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season. I think that they'll gauge the interest of both players. I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of those two players doesn't necessarily work.

The Sixers are expected to choose LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the top pick.  Ford and Marc Stein also reported Philly’s willingness to deal Okafor or Noel in this ESPN article. 

As a deal with the Celtics for the No. 3 pick, Ford told 97.3:

Absolutely…If I was Philadelphia, it would be done tomorrow. I don't know if Boston would do it, but for Philadelphia, 100 percent. That would allow them to actually I think bring in another guard, an elite guard, whether that's Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray, and suddenly now you've got a very, very bright future. I think that's an easy call for the Sixers if Boston would do it.