Celtics draft primer: Perimeter players

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Celtics draft primer: Perimeter players

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

Ray Allen is coming off one of his best seasons ever shooting the ball, which is no small feat for the NBA's all-time 3-point shooting king.

But as much as the human Energizer Bunny seems to keep on going . . . and going . . . and going, at some point Allen's game will start to tail off.

The Celtics are expected to address this void in their roster via free agency.

But as Danny Ainge put it earlier this week, the Celtics "need talent," and may look to next month's NBA draft to add some depth at the wing position.

Here are some of the top wing prospects in next month's draft, which includes a handful, in green, that might be available for the Celtics when it's their turn to select with the No. 25 pick.

Alec Burks, 6-6, SGSF, Colorado

By the numbers: 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

Strengths: Has excellent shooting mechanics and has the kind of athleticism that will bode well for his chances of finishing around the basket in the NBA. Has great and instincts to be a solid defensive player at the next level.

Weaknesses: He needs to get stronger, which will help all phases of his game. Shot-selection could use some work as well.
Projected draft status: Lottery pick

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Klay Thompson, 6-6, SGSF, Washington State
By the numbers: 21.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game

Strengths: One of the best pure shooters in the draft, Thompson already possesses NBA range on his shot. Does a good job of playing off the ball, well aware of how to use screens to free himself up or set up teammates for easy scores when he draws attention.

Weaknesses: Does not have NBA-caliber athleticism, which hurts him more on the defensive end of the floor. Because he does not have great quickness, taking players off the dribble is a part of his game that is seldom seen.

Projected draft status: Middle of the first round

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Jordan Hamilton, 6-7, SGSF, Texas

By the numbers: 18.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game

Strengths: Just imagine Tony Allen with better mechanics, and a smoother-looking jump shot. His strength and ability to finish around the basket compliments a player who brings a high degree of toughness to the floor whenever he plays.

Weaknesses: Does a lot of things well, but doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well. His physical style of play defensively helps cover up - but not completely - the fact that he doesn't have great foot speed. His lateral quickness could use some work as well.

Projected draft status: First-round pick
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Kyle Singler, 6-9, SF, Duke

By the numbers: 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game

Strengths: An instrumental part of keeping the Blue Devils among college basketball's elite programs. Has the size and perimeter-shooting skills to stretch defenses. Has the potential to be a good pick-and-pop shooter in pick-and-roll situations in the NBA.

Weaknesses: At 6-9, 230 pounds, he doesn't rebound the ball as well as he should for his size. Foot speed and lateral quickness are both major concerns at the next level. Unclear if he's reached his full potential.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second

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Josh Selby, 6-3, SG, Kansas

By the numbers: 7.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game

Strengths: This Baltimore native's game draws some comparisons to Celtics guard Delonte West, although he was not nearly as consistent during his time at Kansas as West was at St. Joseph's. Selby's first step to the basket is one of the quickest you'll find. He's also very creative around the basket, and his on-the-ball defense is impressive.

Weaknesses: Will have to play almost exclusively off the ball, which puts him at a huge size disadvantage just about every time he steps on the floor. Has shown the ability to break players down, but doesn't attack the basket with the kind of consistency a player with his skill set is expected to.

Projected draft status: Late first-round, early second

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s Game 4 matchup between Boston and Cleveland which ended with the Cavs rallying for a 112-99 win. Boston now trails Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He was simply the best player on the floor by a mile in Game 4 as he tallied a career playoff-high 42 points with 21 coming in the pivotal third quarter.

LeBron James

Despite picking up four personal fouls in the first half – a first for him in a playoff game ever – James bounced back with a dominant performance. He finished with 34 points, 15 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. He also had six assists and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He continues to be one of the more consistent Celtics in this series. In Game 4, he had 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Love

Most of Game 4, Kevin Love found ways to make life difficult for the Celtics. He ended up with a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds with five assists and two blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

Boston’s Game 3 hero couldn’t deliver like that in Game 4, but Bradley still managed to score a team-high 19 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

 

DUDS

Boston’s sense of urgency

They had the Cavs in prime position to be beaten. But they didn’t play with the kind of effort and focus in the second half, that we saw through most of the first. And that 6:46 stretch in the second quarter when LeBron James was on the bench, and they didn’t increase their lead? That was a major, major factor in the game’s outcome.

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

CLEVELAND – They had them right where they wanted them.

LeBron James was in foul trouble.

Kyrie Irving had not yet heated up, and the lead hovered above double figures but seemed oh-so-close to creeping upwards of 20 points if the Celtics did a better job of making open shots in the first half.

Those missed shots, combined with a Kyrie Irving takeover in the third quarter, would prove to be part of the narrative for Game 4 – missed opportunities - as the Cavs rallied for a 112-99 Game 4 win.

Cleveland now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1, with a chance to eliminate the Celtics in Boston on Thursday and advance to the NBA Finals where a well-rested Golden State team will be awaiting them.

Irving led all scorers with a playoff career-high 42 points, 21 of which came in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Boston’s Avery Bradley had 19 points while Jae Crowder (18 points), Al Horford (16), and Kelly Olynyk (15) also finished with double figures scoring.

"He put the team on his back," said Tristan Thompson, regarding Irving's play. "He still has another gear."

Boston spent all of the fourth quarter playing from behind, failing to get that necessary made shot or defensive turnover or stop that they needed to slow down Cleveland’s growing momentum.

And with Irving making a slew of clutch baskets that put Cleveland in control, it was James’ turn to put the game away.

He did just that, finishing with 34 points which included 15 in the fourth quarter.

But for a good chunk of Tuesday’s Game 4 matchup, it looked as though the Celtics were coming back to Boston for Game 5 with the series tied up.

It was an odd game for sure, with nothing being any stranger than LeBron James being whistled for not one, not two, not three, but four personal fouls … in the first half.

The fourth came when he was whistled for an offensive foul against Terry Rozier with 6:46 to play and Boston ahead by 10 points.

With James on the bench, Cleveland managed to play Boston to a standstill as the half ended with the Celtics still leading by 10 points (57-47).

Cleveland slowly crept back in the game in the third, and eventually went ahead 73-72 following a pair of free throws by James with 3:15 to play in the quarter.

The Cavs were able to lead by as many as five points in the third quarter which ended with Cleveland ahead 87-80 as Irving scored the last 14 points for Cleveland which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that would be the final points scored in the quarter.

Cleveland’s strong finish to the third was a striking contrast to how the game began.

Boston got off to its best start in this series after a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder put the Celtics ahead 18-11.

The Celtics went ahead 22-13 after a pair of free throws by Jonas Jerebko and would eventually lead by as many as 16 points.

Meanwhile, James – the man Crowder was defending most of the time early on – had six points in the first quarter on 3-for-7 shooting.