Celtics prepare to work out rookies Wednesday


Celtics prepare to work out rookies Wednesday

By A.Sherrod Blakely

With the NBA draft just around the corner, teams are starting to get a better look at potential draft picks.

The Boston Celtics are no exception.

While the C's have done plenty of scouting throughout this past season, as well as when the season ended, a number of players will be in the Hub in the coming weeks with the goal being to impress the Celtics' brass.

Here's a rundown of some players expected to workout for Boston on Wednesday:

Justin Harper, Richmond
Height, Weight, Position: 6-9, 230 PF

2010-2011 stats: 17.9 points, 6.9 rebounds

Expected draft status: Late first round

Here's the skinny on Harper: A bit undersized for an NBA power forward, Harper makes up for that with the ability to stretch defenses with his perimeter shooting skills, as well as having the kind of strength needed to hold his own around the basket.

Jon Leuer, Wisconsin
Height, Weight, Position: 7-foot, 223, PFC

2010-2011 stats: 18.3 points, 7.2 rebounds

Expected draft status: Early second round, but strong workouts could lift him into the latter part of the first.

Here's the skinny on Leuer: Has great footwork and a high basketball IQ - two things you can never have enough on your roster. But his lack of strength and lateral quickness are two of the biggest concerns that teams have with him at this level. Still, a 7-footer with his pick-and-pop skills might be too much to pass up if you're the C's.

Jamie Skeen, VCU
Height, Weight, Position: 6-8, 242, PF

2010-2011 stats:15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds

Expected draft status: Second round

Here's the skinny on Skeen: A former Wake Forest player before transferring to VCU, Skeen's strength and ability to score from the perimeter as well as around the basket, makes him an interesting talent. While taking him with the No. 25 pick overall may be a bit of a stretch, if by some chance he's available at No. 55 - the Celtics would be wise to scoop him up especially when you consider the void that may exist in the C's bench if Glen Davis opts to sign with another team.

Matt Howard, Butler
Height, Weight, Position: 6-8, 230, PF

2010-2011 stats: 16.4 points, 7.7 rebounds

Expected draft status: Undrafted, but strong workouts could get him drafted late in the second round.

Here's the skinny on Howard: Great collegiate career at Butler, but the skills he displayed don't necessarily translate to the NBA. Teams know he has the ability to score, but the two things that could go far during workouts that could help him get drafted are showing better lateral quickness on pick and rolls, and proving that he's strong enough to play some around the basket.

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

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

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Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”