Boston Celtics

Change in top recruit Marvin Bagley's status would put him on Celtics' radar

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Change in top recruit Marvin Bagley's status would put him on Celtics' radar

BOSTON – Marvin Bagley III has proven himself to be among the best high school basketball players in the country, a 6-foot-11 left-handed power forward whose skills are as close to NBA-ready as you will find in the prep ranks.
 
Sensing his jump to the NBA might be sooner rather than later, he’s attempting to re-classify himself and play college basketball this season rather than play another year in high school.

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It is a complicated process, one that becomes even more convoluted when you consider the 18-year-old has already attended three high schools (two in Arizona, one in Southern California), meaning there will be at least three different paper trails the NCAA must take into account if he is to have clearance to play Division I basketball this upcoming season.
 
And that doesn’t even take into account that for most universities, the school year officially begins in a couple of weeks.
 
If he does manage to get the green light to play from the NCAA, it has potential ramifications for both the college game (whatever team he signs with will likely be the odds-on favorite to win a national championship this season) and NBA teams, such as the Celtics, who are likely to have one of the top draft picks next year courtesy of yet another first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets as part of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade in 2013.
 
As much as the Celtics would love to be in position to draft a player with Bagley’s talent, having him start the one-and-done process this year rather than the fall of 2018 has other benefits as well.
 
It provides yet another talented option near the top of the 2018 draft board for the Celtics to choose from, just in case they don’t get the No. 1 overall pick.
 
And if they do get it, maybe they will trade it, which is exactly what they did in June.
 
In return, they slid down two spots to No. 3, where they selected Jayson Tatum from Duke in addition to acquiring a future first-round pick.
 
And while the Celtics get plenty of praise for landing top-tier free agents each of the past two summers in Al Horford and most recently Gordon Hayward, championships are won by teams with both stars and a supporting cast that learns how to become stars in their respective roles.
 
We’ve seen that with Golden State and Cleveland as they’ve gone back and forth with the Larry O’Brien Trophy the past three years.
 
And we see Boston in the early stages of assembling a team with similar growth among its youth, such as second-year wing Jaylen Brown, whose play steadily improved with him earning a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie second team while playing on the team that finished with the best record (53-29) in the Eastern Conference.
 
Boston still has some pieces to add on before they are firmly entrenched as a championship contender, but they know the quickest way to get there is to draft a player with superstar talent from Day One.
 
The 2018 draft, more so than the past couple of draft classes, appears to have a handful of players many believe can come in and contribute significantly to any team – even one that’s a legitimate title-chaser like Boston – in part because of their size and versatility.
 
Bagley III would join an elite top-of-the-draft class of big men that includes 6-foot-11 Missouri-bound forward Michael Porter, 7-footers DeAndre Ayton (Arizona) and Mohamed Bamba (Texas) and Texas A&M big man Robert Williams. The top international prospect is Luka Doncic, a 6-7 wing from Slovenia.
 
Of course, Boston’s chances of landing one of those players rests heavily in the hands of the Nets, who are once again projected to struggle this season.
 
If the Nets have the kind of season most anticipate, the Celtics will be in line to use that pick from the Nets and add one of those players next June to help strengthen a roster that’s trending in the right direction in its quest for what truly matters to this franchise – Banner 18.

30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

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30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The New Orleans Pelicans. 

Anthony Davis has waited patiently for the New Orleans Pelicans to assemble a cast around him that could be competitive in the West.
 
Still waiting...
 
The Pelicans have more big-name players on their roster this season, but those players, by and large, are well past their primes. And that will likely result in yet another playoff-less season.

 
New Orleans’ best hopes of bucking the odds and become a competitive, playoff-caliber team will hinge on how a couple of former Celtics perform.
 
Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo, both members of Boston’s 2008 championship team, will be looked upon to provide solid play as well as veteran leadership.
 
Rondo, now 31, a four-time All-Star, was in and out of the Chicago Bulls lineup last season before emerging in the playoffs with a pair of strong performances against the Celtics, which put Boston in a 2-0 series hole despite the first two games being at the TD Garden.
 
However, the point guard broke his right hand in Game 2 and was unable to return, which proved to be a major turning point as Boston went on to win the series in six games.
 
In Allen, the Pelicans add one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. And while he is 35, he doesn’t come with the kind of wear and tear you typically associate with a player his age.
 
That’s because Allen has not ever been a player to log major minutes. This past season in Memphis, Allen averaged a career-high 27.0 minutes per game.
 
Despite playing limited minutes, it still didn’t keep him from being recognized for his defense, which has led to him being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first or second team, six times (first team in 2012, 2013 and 2015; and second team in 2011, 2016 and 2017).
 
Those veterans will be important, but the key to making this work for New Orleans lies in how well Davis and DeMarcus Cousins mesh.
 
Acquired just before the trade deadline in February, the Pelicans were just 7-10 with Cousins in the lineup and 4-4 when he did not play.
 
However, that came on the fly, which is why there’s optimism in New Orleans that Davis and Cousins will work together even better with a training camp under their belts.
 
Ultimately, the Pelicans have to field a team that can be competitive, if for no other reason than to appease Davis.

While Davis has shown no signs of wanting to play elsewhere, you have to wonder just how much patience will he have with a New Orleans team that has made just one playoff appearance in his five NBA seasons.
 
Of the other 13 lottery picks from his draft, only one (Kendall Marshall) has made fewer playoff appearances.
 
Anything short of a playoff appearance will only lead to more questions about Davis being traded.
 
"I understand it's a business, but if I don't hear anything from Dell [Demps, the Pelicans general manager] or my agent, I don't pay attention to it," Davis told reporters this summer, regarding the rumors about being traded to Boston. "Once I first heard [the rumors], then I heard it again, then I heard it again, I just wanted to make sure. I found out it wasn't [true], and that was the beginning of the summer, so I haven't paid attention to it since."
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Tony Allen (Memphis); Rajon Rondo (Chicago); Ian Clark (Golden State).
 
Key losses: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento); Tim Frazier (Washington); Terrence Jones (Qingdao Doublestar of Chinese Basketball Association); Langston Galloway (Detroit);
 
Rookies of note:
 None.
 
Expectations:
31-51 (fifth in the Southwest Division, 14th in the West).