OFFSEASON

Celtics draft primer: Big men

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Celtics draft primer: Big men

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

With the NBA becoming more guard-oriented, there's a very good chance that a number of the quality big men will slip down a few spots in next month's NBA draft.

For the Boston Celtics, that's a very good thing when you consider one of the C's biggest needs is to add more depth in the frontcourt.

With the return of the O'Neal "brothers" -- Jermaine and Shaquille -- next season very much up in the air, the C's will look to fortify its center position in the offseason.

The Celtics' preference will be to do it via free agency, but Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has never been one to rule out any scenario if it could possibly help the C's.

Which is why the Celtics will indeed give some thought to adding a big man in this year's draft, even though all indications are that there are very few high-impact players at the power forward or center position.

Here we'll take a look at some of the top big men in next month's draft, which includes possible targets for the Celtics with the No. 25 pick, in bold.

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Jonas Valanciunas, 6-11, C, Lithuania

By the numbers: 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game

Strengths: Excellent pick-and-roll finisher around the basket; has a wide frame that will allow him to carry more weight without affecting his mobility; does nice job offensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Picks up fouls too quickly. Does not have great or even average foot speed for an NBA center. Low post game has very little variety to it.

Projected draft status: Lottery pick (top-14)

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Bismark Biyombo, 6-9, FC, Democratic Republic of Congo

By the numbers: 6.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game

Strengths: Impressive shot-blocker, courtesy of a freakishly long 7-7 wingspan. Does a good job of attacking the offensive boards. Plays with great energy.

Weaknesses: Inexperience; doesn't have a go-to move offensively, relies primarily on put-backs and dunks; listed as 18 years old, there are concerns about his age.

Projected draft status: Lottery pick (top-14)

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Enes Kanter, 6-10, C, Turkey

By the numbers: Averaged more than 30 points and a double-double in his one season (2009-2010) at Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley, Calf.

Strengths:Very talented big man with size, strength and intelligence to play the role of difference-maker. Better than average free-throw shooter.

Weaknesses: Talented, but just 18 years old. He has had some knee injuries that may impact how long he stays on the board.

Projected draft status: Lottery pick (top-14)

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Tristan Thompson, 6-9, F, Texas

By the numbers: 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game

Strengths: Has good hands and does a nice job of finishing around the basket. Long wingspan allows him to be a good weak-side defender.

Weaknesses:Undersized to play power forward in the NBA, spends too much time around the basket. Horrible free throw shooter; jumper needs a lot of work.

Projected draft status: Middle of first round

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Markieff Morris, 6-10, PF, Kansas

By the numbers: 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game

Strengths: Has an NBA-ready body. Has good range on his shot, making him an ideal pick-and-pop player. Good finisher around the rim.

Weaknesses: His mid-range touch is still a work in progress. Very little versatility to his around-the-basket game.

Projected draft status: Middle to late first round

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Donatas Motiejunas, 7-0, PF, Lithuania

By the numbers: 13.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game

Strengths: Lefty can handle the ball extremely well for a player of his size. Can score from the perimeter as well as around the basket. Decent lateral quickness.

Weaknesses: Doesn't always play hard as he should. Needs to add strength.

Projected draft status: First round pick

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Kenneth Faried, 6-8, F, Morehead State

By the numbers: 17.3 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game

Strengths: Incredible rebounder at the college level. He has great timing on his jump, and exceptional instincts. He's a high energy player.

Weaknesses: Undersized to play power forward in the NBA. Post-game needs work. Has no real perimeter-shooting touch.

Projected draft status: Middle to late first round

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Jordan Williams, 6-10, F, Maryland

By the numbers: 16.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game

Strengths: Has a nice touch around the basket. Does a good job of getting position and holding it as a rebounder. Above-average athleticism for his size.

Weaknesses: Conditioning remains a concern. Offensive-game is still a work in progress. Still learning how to create space when tightly defended by a bigger player.

Projected draft status: Late first round to early second

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Willie Reed, 6-10, F, St. Louis

By the numbers: 12.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game

Strengths: One of the more athletic players in this year's draft; has the potential to be excellent help-side defender.

Weaknesses: Needs to develop a mid-range game. Needs to add strength. Poor free throw shooter.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second

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Justin Harper, 6-10, PF, Richmond

By the numbers: 17.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game

Strengths: A "stretch 4," already has NBA 3-point range. He's another solid pick-and-pop big man. Better-than-average ball handler for his position.

Weaknesses: Needs to add more muscle to his lithe frame; doesn't use length enough in the post; usual concerns with being a mid-major player coming to the NBA.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second

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Trey Thompkins, 6-10, F, Georgia

By the numbers: 16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game

Strengths: Big man with a nice pick-and-pop game; high basketball IQ; excellent footwork in the post, playing off the ball.

Weaknesses: Not a great shot-blocker despite impressive wingspan and basketball smarts; passing could use some improvement; lateral quickness may be an issue.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second

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JaJuan Johnson, 6-10, Purdue

By the numbers: 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game

Strengths: Runs the floor well; finishes in transition around the basket and above the rim; great timing defensively in terms of blocking shots.

Weaknesses: Pushed around too easily because of lack of strength and weight; limited offensive game.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second

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

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin. 

 

OFFSEASON

Celtics are anything but "a middle of the road team"

Celtics are anything but "a middle of the road team"

Charles Barkley said Friday that the Boston Celtics are a "middle of the road team in no man's land." Kevin O'Connor joined Greg Dickerson on Sports Tonight and explained just how foolish of a statement that is.

Make sure you watch the video above, but here are some of the key stats O'Connor mentions regarding the state of the Celtics.

Competitive teams rarely select at the top of the draft, but the Celtics have already done it before and could again in 2017 and 2018. Over the last 40 years, only 10 teams have won at least 45 games and used a top five pick in the draft. Here’s the list:

PLAYER TEAM WINS YEAR PICK
Greg Ballard Washington 48 1977 4
Mychal Thompson Portland 58 1978 1
Magic Johnson LA Lakers 47 1979 1
Kevin McHale Boston 61 1980 3
James Worthy LA Lakers 57 1982 1
Charles Barkley Philadelphia 52 1984 5
Sam Bowie Portland 48 1984 2
Len Bias Boston 67 1986 2
Darko Milicic Detroit 50 2003 2
Jaylen Brown Boston 48 2016 3

Two of those teams won a single championship (Washington and Detroit). Two became dynasties (Boston and the Lakers). Four of the players are Hall of Famers (Johnson, McHale, Worthy, Barkley). You’ll also find Jaylen Brown, who could be a cornerstone even if we don’t know it yet.

If they play their cards right and the Nets struggle as much as everyone expects them to, they’ll be right back in the conversation for another star next season. Due to their tremendous flexibility, that could happen through the draft, the trade market, or free agency.

For more on this topic, click here.

OFFSEASON

Carroll: Crowder doesn't understand what it takes to win in playoffs

Carroll: Crowder doesn't understand what it takes to win in playoffs

Celtics forward Jae Crowder recently said, “Toronto is not a team we’re worried about,” and Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll thinks that's a silly comment to make.

“It’s a comment from a person who hasn’t really been in the playoffs that much. That’s how I reacted to that type of comment. When you haven’t been on that level and you don’t understand what it takes to get to that level. Myself going to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, I understand what it takes,” Carroll said on SportsNet.ca. “It’s a comment from a guy who hasn’t been on that level, who hasn’t played on that level. It sounds like a young comment.”

The Raptors won 56 games last season and went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling in six games to the Cavaliers, so Carroll is right that he’s speaking from experience.

But you can understand the confidence Crowder has. After winning 48 games last season, the Celtics just landed Al Horford, and they have repeatedly said they’re not done making moves. So perhaps their roster will look even better on Opening Night than it does right now.

Carroll doesn’t care about that though.

“We’ll let Jae Crowder do all the talking,” Carroll said. “We’ll just fly under the radar and do what we’re supposed to do.”

The Celtics went 1-3 versus the Raptors last season. They better hope they perform better next season, or Carroll might be the one talking.